Strasburg fire department reclaims bit of history

Chad Sherman, vice president of Strasburg Fire Department Inc., stands beside this 1953 Oren firetruck, which he and his father Gary recently purchased from a Rhode Island man. Rich Cooley/Daily

TOMS BROOK – After a decades long odyssey winding through Virginia and Rhode Island, a former member of the Strasburg Fire Department returned home Nov. 6.

Chad Sherman and his father Gary rolled a vintage engine truck off a gooseneck trailer that carried the rare piece of history to a shed in Toms Brook. The truck, built in 1953 by Oren Corp. on an International truck chassis was a mainstay of the Strasburg Fire Department until 1971 when the newly formed South Warren Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company bought it.

The engine made its last run with South Warren in 1993 when it was sold to the first of a series of private owners. It was taken to Rhode Island in 2011. The owner recently called the Strasburg department and asked if anyone there was interested in buying the truck.

That was all the encouragement Chad Sherman, who is vice president of the company, needed to buy the engine for an undisclosed amount.

“I didn’t want to leave it go since it was from Strasburg,” Sherman said of the truck.

Gary Sherman, left, and his son Chad look over some marketing material that displayed Strasburg's 1953 Oren fire engine on the front cover. Rich Cooley/Daily

The Shermans, along with a member of the fire department, headed up to Rhode Island last week to see the truck in person for the first time. Chad had only seen some pictures before then.

“It was in much better shape than I thought it was,” Chad Sherman said.

They rolled it onto the trailer and headed south, sometimes to the accompaniment of thumbs up and blowing horns from admiring motorists along the highway.

The truck still bears the lettering of the South Warren Company on its door, but Chad Sherman said he plans to rename it for its original home in the Strasburg department.

He also hopes to roll out the truck for occasional public appearances, perhaps as early as this year’s Christmas parade in Strasburg.

The engine, which can carry 300 gallons of water, has run up about 36,000 miles, many of them over rugged terrain. The truck has a three-stage water pump that Sherman calls a unique feature for the model year.

The truck has undergone a few modifications since its arrival in Strasburg from the now-defunct Oren factory in Roanoke in 1953. The most conspicuous change was the removal of the top of the cab before it went into service.

The Shermans said they see no need for extensive restoration but are confident that International parts are still available if they need to make any repairs.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com