RARE FIRE ENGINE GOES ON DISPLAY IN TRENTON
Photo Credit: Jonathan Carlucci, NJDEP
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(07/03) TRENTON - Connecting the public with priceless pieces
of New Jersey's past, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner
Lisa P. Jackson today announced the special exhibition of a rare,
antique fire engine used to battle blazes in Trenton during the
"Period fire engines of this type and condition are especially
uncommon. We are proud to bring it back to the city it once served
and share it with the people of New Jersey," Commissioner Jackson
said. "We hope this exhibit enables residents to learn more
about our state's unique firefighting history and deepens their
appreciation of the courageous men and women who voluntarily risked
their lives to protect others."
The engine is on a one-year renewal loan to the Meredith Havens
Fire Museum, located on the first floor of Trenton Fire Department
Headquarters on Perry Street.
"We are excited to see this relic of Trenton's firefighting
history on display in our city," Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer
said. "The DEP's willingness to loan this remarkable piece
of equipment is yet another in a long series of examples of extraordinary
collaboration and constructive partnership."
Manufactured in 1850 by Young & Son of Philadelphia, the hand-operated
engine was used by the all-volunteer Good Will Fire Company of Trenton
for 42 years. The double-decker rig required 16 firefighters to
operate it - eight men on the ground and another eight on foldout
platforms atop its main body.
In 1892, the volunteer fire company disbanded and formed the first
salaried squad of what is now the Trenton Fire Department, one of
the nation's oldest. That year, the engine was retired from service
and later restored by the Valentine & Weedon Carriage Company
of Trenton. In 1898, the vehicle was presented as a museum piece
to the Exempt Firemen's Association, then housed in the Good Will
Fire Company's former headquarters on South Warren Street.
The engine eventually was acquired by the late Ernie Day, a Middlesex
County resident and one-time volunteer fireman. As founder of the
New Jersey Fire Equipment Company in 1933, Day sold fire apparatus
throughout the Northeast. While delivering new equipment, he typically
purchased obsolete vehicles, successfully amassing a collection
that rivaled any museum.
Day donated much of his collection to the state; the DEP received
the distinctive, hand-operated engine in 1974, and it is part of
a 42-piece collection administered by the agency's Office of Historic
Today, the fire engine is regarded as one of the finest remaining
examples of early firefighting equipment. Along with its ornate
castings and elaborate carvings, the engine still retains most of
its original paint finish. Particularly remarkable are the mural
paintings featured on the engine's four center panels.