This is the Story of the Creation of
The OFD Parade Fire Engine
In 1967, the Oakland Fire Department purchased two Van Pelt Fire Engines. They were the last open air (without a roof) and the first fire engines to be powered by diesel engines that Oakland had ever owned. With Detroit Diesel V8s and Allison MT70 6-speed automatic transmissions they were very powerful. With a booster pump and hydraulic retarder they served the Oakland Fire Department well for a lot of years. Apparatus numbers 100 and 101 were first line engines that saw a lot of action with the long gone Firefighters standing on the tail board during responses.
Apparatus 101 faded into history as it was worn out and sold for scrap many years ago. But Apparatus 100 somehow managed to survive. Eventually, it was parked and left unused for years. Kind of forgotten about, but it would still run. It found its way to different locations at various fire houses, mainly to get it out of the way for newer engines with jump seats that were able to hold more equipment. It finally made its way behind OFD Station 17 where it was outside with the weather taking its toll. With fading paint and rust forming it might have been sold at auction soon. Part of our history would be gone forever.
In 2002, Oakland Firefighters Random Acts began a journey to restore and modify Apparatus 100 that was long, and sometimes seemed like it would never happen. But, the saying “It Takes A Village” was never so true. An Angel in our OFD Admin took the ball and ran with it. She was able to connect with City Attorneys, Council Members and other agencies within the City of Oakland and made it happen. Random Acts was going to be able to restore Apparatus 100. The City of Oakland would retain ownership of the engine, but as a 501c(3) non-profit organization, we would be able to use it to perform Random Acts of Kindness on duty in uniform. As it turned out that was the hard part. As far as we know, this kind of relationship between a 501c(3) created by Firefighters was a stand-alone corporation. To partner like this with a City was unheard of.
In 2005, we began the restoration process. The hose bed dividers were taken out, moved up to the sides and welded to form a back rest area. The rear stairs were fabricated at a local shop and then taken to a private home to be stripped of everything we could unbolt. Next it was taken to the Elmwood Correctional Facility Prison Shop where, with donated paint, the body work prep and painting was done by convicts. They really took a special interest in this project when they heard what Firefighters were going to do with it. It looked great!
After it came out of the prison it went to a private facility where a very talented retired OFD Engineer proceeded to fabricate the rear seating area and mount the new Honda Generator in a side compartment. Things were really taking shape. California Covers, a local upholstery shop in Oakland, did all the interior work for the entire engine for just the cost of materials. The wheels were sand blasted for free at a local sand blaster and powder coated black. The OFD shop threw in a new set of tires. Again, another member of the “OFD Village” stepped up and did all the wiring for the generator and sound system that was about to be installed. A lot of Firefighters with skills showed up to take on a little piece of creating the Oakland Fire Department’s first Parade Engine. In 2006, it was launched onto the streets of Oakland and has never looked back.
The restoration was designed by Firefighters and Apparatus 100 has become a very unique multi-functional piece of fire equipment. Now, designed to hold 10 people with seat belts, it sports a huge DJ system complete with its own electrical power. Parades, picnics, fund raisers make it the perfect match. The on board sound system is designed to come off and be set up for other venues. With CD players, wireless mics, and I-pad compatible the Parade Engine rocks where ever it is used.
A Class 3 tow hitch allows it to tow trailers, floats, or other OFD equipment. In an emergency it can ferry Firefighters and their equipment. Or, at a staging area with the on board power, lighting and sound it can serve as a fixed asset.
But, probably the most important feature of the Parade Engine is that it was designed to convert into a hearse to carry active or retired Firefighters to their final resting place after a loss. Apparatus 100 has taken on a new role and has been used for this purpose a number of times since 2006. In the spirit of tradition and respect for Fallen Firefighters it now stands ready to respond.
We would like to thank everyone who gave so much to make this project happen.
To all the Citizens and Firefighters who responded from their hearts.
This project would never have happened without you.
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