Colette M. Jenkins
BARBERTON: Old 132 — Sharon Township’s first firetruck — is getting a makeover.
Once the 1950 Chevrolet 6400 truck is restored, it will be used to escort fallen firefighters during “Last Alarm” funeral processions.
“We’re going to restore the truck to its original appearance and modernize it so that it is serviceable all over the country,” said Aaron Cole, owner of Cole’s Classics in Barberton.
The truck, which was reacquired by the Sharon Township Firefighters Association in late 2010, will be fitted with a custom-built hydraulic bed to make it easier to remove a casket.
It was initially purchased by the fire department in 1950 for $10,000. After being in storage for nearly a year in California, where it was sent for restoration, Old 132 was brought back to Northeast Ohio last summer and taken to the local restoration shop.
“We are just thankful to Aaron Cole and Cole’s Classics for stepping up and helping get the job done so that Old 132 can get back to doing her job,” Sharon Township Fire Capt. Dennis Miller said.
“Over the past year, we have had about a dozen calls for her that we had to turn down because she wasn’t ready.”
Miller said the truck has been used about a half-dozen times to carry first responders to their final resting places in Sharon Township, Brunswick Hills, Clinton Township, Seville and Ruggles-Troy Township.
The fire department in Medina County makes the truck available free of charge to families of fallen firefighters, police officers and public safety officials. The truck is also made available to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Wishes Can Happen.
Cole and Rich Guysick have taken the first step in restoring the 1950 vehicle — disassembly. The project, which will cost about $150,000, is expected to take a year to complete.
“The restoration of the truck, operation and maintenance costs are all covered by donations and money raised through fundraisers. No taxpayer money is used,” Sharon Fire Lt. Michael George said.
“Being transported to a final resting place on a fire engine is considered the highest honor a firefighter can receive and we want to do what we can to keep that tradition of respect going.”
A “Last Alarm” fundraiser is planned for 6 p.m. May 24 at Thirsty Cowboys, 2743 Medina Road, Medina. It will include music by the River Hawk and the Cleveland Firefighters Memorial Pipes and Drums bands; prizes and giveaways and a limited menu.
A $5 donation will be collected at the door. All money raised will go to the restoration, operation and maintenance of Old 132.
Donations can be sent to the Sharon Township Fire Department, in care of Memorial Truck Fund, 1274 Sharon-Copley Road, Sharon Center, 44274. Checks should be made payable to STFA and marked Memorial Truck Fund.
For more information, call 330-239-4992, follow on Twitter @last_alarm or visit STFA.Last.Alarm on Facebook.
Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She can be followed at www.twitter.com/ColetteMJenkins.