Apollo alarm bell dedicated
Before the days of Sept. 11, 2001, sirens and mobile phones, there was the bell.
The alarm bell may be silent most of the time, but it now claims a fit and proper resting place, in front of the Apollo Area Historical Society, overlooking much of the hillside town that it helped to protect.
The significance of this bell and those it called to serve was recognized in a dedication service Saturday at the historical society.
Keynote speaker, state Rep. Jeff Pyle, R-Ford City, said, "I was honored to present a state commendation to the Apollo Hose companies. Firefighters are truly selfless servants and this bell symbolizes the protection they give us, even when we sleep."
Crafted of 80 percent copper and 20 percent tin in 1890 by the McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore, the bell now is minus its clapper. The Diamond and Excelsior Alarm Bell is no lightweight; it weighs 605 pounds and cost 22 cents per pound to manufacture in 1890. Using those statistics, the original tab of about $133 seems like small change when it is contrasted with the $14,000 it cost in today's money.
The day's celebration also included the dedication of a refurbished 1955 Oren hook-and-ladder truck. According to Apollo No. 2 Fire Chief Kevin Gibbons, "At one time, after the truck was retired 15 years ago, some members wanted to sell the Oren to a collector."
Fortunately, another group that argued to keep the truck prevailed, Gibbons said.
"We learned from some other local companies that getting rid of these historical trucks can be regrettable," Gibbons said. "So, those of us that could help with stripping paint and things like that did so -- and many gave money."
Gibbons made a concerted effort to locate area restoration specialists and was able to deal with businesses in the Delmont and Murrysville areas. The work was completed in Southwestern Pennsylvania, even down to the historically correct gold leaf detailing that accentuates the beautiful pearl white glossy finish.
Three members who were active when the truck was purchased were in attendance; Herbert Ament of Harrison and Richard Hughes and Howard Stone, both of Apollo.
Although Apollo No. 1 Fire Department no longer exists and the 1955 Oren is just a curiosity, the bell and truck represent the importance of their history to the residents of Apollo that have endeavored to keep these symbols a part of the community.