Black Canyon Fire Department
Black Canyon City, AZ
January 13, 2005
Black Canyon Fire Truck Holds Secrets
A few weeks ago, Chief Birch attempted his search again on the Internet using the military model number for the truck, MS 4403, and found a match. According to the Department of Defense website http://www.dodfire.com, there were only 100 Chevrolet/Mack 4×2 military fire trucks built between 1942 and 1944 with the Hardie LCXA high pressure pump. As the Chief dug more on the Internet, he came across the website http://www.welovenh.com where he found pictures of another fire truck just like Black Canyon’s First. He wrote to the webmaster which led him to two World War II Veterans, one in New York and one in Hawaii. The Chief communicated back and forth with them and gained a wealth of knowledge about the truck. It appears the truck was originally assigned to the Army Corp. Of Engineers who assigned one MS4403, also known as a Class 125, to each platoon. These trucks were never stationed over-seas; the 4×4 version known as a Class 135 was sent over-seas. Unfortunately at the outbreak of the WWII, the War Department confiscated all civilian commercial-chassis trucks so it is difficult to find where any of the trucks were specifically assigned.
Another source consulted by Chief Birch was the website http://www.vehicleofvictory.com, which is operated by a group of Word War II Veterans dedicated to historical information about WWII era Chevrolet and GMC trucks. According to their website as of October 17, 2004, only three of the Class 125 4×2 fire trucks had been located; since then, the Chief has learned that three others have been located, including Black Canyon City’s truck.
Chief Birch is proud to finally know the secret Black Canyon City’s First Fire Truck has held for so many years. He now has factory photographs of a similar truck brand new, specifications for the truck and for the Hardie High Pressure pump, a list of all equipment that originally came on the truck and he knows where to find a replacement motor, transmission, chassis and body parts.
Chief Birch has spoken with several of the original firefighters and none of them knew the historical value of the truck they once used to protect the lives and property of those living in Black Canyon City. Jack Harmon told the Chief he “thought we just had another old fire truck.” Now, Jack and many of the other original firefighters beam with pride.
Chief Birch plans to restore the”old fire truck” from the frame up once the new fire station is built. A garage will be built at the new station to properly protect and preserve the truck. In the interim, the Chief is able to begin looking for the equipment originally on the truck; he has purchased three of the original nozzles through a donation from the Albins Family. He will continue to hunt down the original items that were part of the truck so that when the truck is restored, it can be unveiled exactly as it was when it rolled out of the factory in 1943….. And by the way, Chief Birch advised that “No, the truck is not for sale and never will be for sale. It will remain a part of Black Canyon City’s history for many years to come.”
After reading that press release, I started to feel very good about the art that I’ve been doing. I guess I sort of found my niche in creating Realism. Each of my subjects has had a story behind it. And, even if I don’t know it at first, I can learn its true story, and tell it to the world:)
I think I’m about halfway done with my felt foundation. The photo below shows you what I’ve accomplished so far….