Monessen firefighter brings back vehicle identification markers
It's a scene most motorists have experienced on a number of occasions — a car with a flashing blue light speeds by. A firefighter's license plate may be visible for a brief moment as the volunteer firefighter speeds off to the scene of a fire.
But generations before those blue lights were made, the only way the public knew their neighbor s were firefighters was by the vehicle identification marker, bolted to the grill, of their vehicles.
On the wall of his home, Monessen Hilltop firefighter John Poproski displayed for many years his father's vehicle identification marker, first given to Steve Poproski in the early 1960s. John Poproski is a third-generation firefighter.
His father, Steve Poproski, was an assistant chief in Monessen.
His grandfather, Paul Lambert, was the first fire chief of Stockdale.
John Poproski was chief of the West Newton Fire Department before moving back to Monessen in 2008.
John Poproski got the idea to preserve the Monessen Fire Department's vehicle identification marker's and sought the assistance of Douglas Education Center.
The vehicle identification marker that John Poproski owned was still painted, so he borrowed one owned by fellow firefighter Chuck Keller. The painted had chipped off that vehicle identification marker, making it easier to use to create a mold.
Anthony Canonica, 19, a graduate of Tom Savini's Special Make-Up Effects Program at DEC, jumped at the chance to get involved.
“I'm so glad I was able to be a part of this project,” Canonica said. “I was a volunteer firefighter in my hometown for two years. I think it's really important to give back to the community and support the local fire departments.”
Canonica is a native of Williamstown, N.J.
Canonica molded 20 VIMs in five days.
“We are really proud of Anthony,” said DEC instructor Shawn Ronzio. “He worked really hard on this project. There's much more that goes into the molding process than most people think.
“A lot of time was devoted to getting the details of the VIM's just right such as the contours of the fire helmet and lettering.”
Monessen firefighters Tony Evans and Poproski visited Douglas education Center to accept the finished molds.
“We couldn't be happier,” said Poproski. “Once they've been painted we plan to give them to any local firefighter on a first- come, first-serve basis. This is a great piece of history, and one that is near and dear to my heart.”
Vehicle identification markers first issued in 1930s and remade in early 1960s.
“I pursued this for nostalgia,” Poproski said. “That was the original Monessen firefighter ID. I thought it would be great to bring back that piece of nostalgia.”
After receiving the vehicle identification markers from DEC, Poproski finished them, including sanding, priming and painting them. has sold them to other firefighters to recoup his costs.
“Some guys have put them on their cars while others have put them in their man caves,” Poproski said.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Robinson received rousing reception in visit to NAACP fete
- Monessen mayor: Bickering out, blight fight in
- Mon Valley Salvation Army marks 100 years
- Monongahela church closing appealed
- Boatman: Many women face unique problems
- Cal U offers only undergrad degree in gerontology in Pa. system
- Reader requests more from ’44 on ‘This Day’ journey
- Mon Valley Financial Seminar Series continues
- Fallowfield revisits local police coverage
- 2 nabbed for drugs by Monessen police
- Belle Vernon man facing child sex assault charges