Years of work, $30,000 and volunteers restore Greensburg fire engine
By Bob Stiles
Published: Thursday, May 9, 2013, 8:33 p.m.
Greensburg firefighter Clyde Snyder has been fond of the department's 1949 Seagrave engine ever since he was a Boy Scout in the 1960s.
“I got pretty well attracted to it, and I can remember it from when I was a child,” Snyder said. “It was a piece of equipment I thought was just neat. I liked the looks of it.”
Snyder's efforts in restoring the engine recently helped earn him accolades as Firefighter of the Year from the Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department's Hose Company No. 8.
Snyder joined the department in 1969. The Seagrave had been delivered in the summer of 1949.
The department retired the truck 16 years after buying it. The vehicle was then used by the city streets department before serving as the original Westmoreland County HAZMAT vehicle for the hazardous material team.
The engine spent time at the former Volkswagen plant near New Stanton and was at Westmoreland County Community College twice. On its last stint at the college near Youngwood, the engine sat for three or four years in a field.
“All it was used for was dragging ball fields,” Snyder said.
The truck came back to the fire department in the early 1980s.
It then basically sat for decades until efforts to refurbish it were rekindled a few years ago.
Getting the truck into the condition it can be seen today in the fire department's museum behind city hall took a lot of time and effort.
“It was a lot of work to get it up and running,” Snyder said.
In the early part of this century, Forbes Road fire Chief Robert Rosatti suggested inmates at the State Correctional Institution-Albion in Erie County might be able to help restore the engine, Snyder said.
“We contacted them ... and they were interested in restoring it and getting it running,” Snyder said.
The inmates did a lot of the body work.
The truck returned from the prison to Greensburg in 2005, and firefighters worked to get the pumper in working order. They rewired it and worked on the carburetor and engine, Snyder said.
“There's been a number of people who have helped with it over the years,” Snyder said.
Firefighters were able to restore the engine in time for a reception for the 50th anniversary of the St. Vincent College fire. The engine helped battle that blaze on Jan. 29, 1963.
Rick Hoyle, an assistant fire chief and Greensburg road superintendent, said he and John Solochier, a city mechanic who is a fireman, worked on the truck during their off hours.
“It's the only piece of fire apparatus around that actually fought that fire,” Hoyle said.
The truck cost at least $30,000 to restore, with funding coming from grants, fundraisers, firefighters and the fire department, Snyder said.
Snyder deserves a lot of the credit for restoring the Seagrave, Greensburg fire Chief J. Edward Hutchinson said.
“He had a lot of help, but he got it done,” Hutchinson said.
Workers still need to get the fire pumper to disperse water properly, Hoyle said.
“We tried to keep everything as original as it was the day we received it from Seagrave in 1949,” Hoyle added.
Despite the hard work, Snyder is glad the truck has been restored.
When he looks at the engine, Snyder said, he thinks of the firefighters who served on the truck.
“It's important to history,” he said.
“By preserving it, generations to come can see it and say, ‘Wow, that's what they used,” Hoyle said.
Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Parents: Metzgar Elementary schools should exclude voters, teens
- Eateries seek to serve with a swipe