So you spent your holiday break scratch-building a miniature
fire station. You measured your models, built the thing to
scale, and lo and behold, one of the trucks doesn't fit. It's
too long, high, or wide. Don't be disheartened, as the same
thing happens with real fire engines. Except in reverse.
Many a department has had the misfortune to discover that
their newly delivered apparatus is too large for its
quarters. Heck, for years here in Raleigh, North Carolina,
our Snorkel couldn't use the "front door" of Station
15. Because of the steep angle of the apron, it exited
through the rear bay doors, through the parking lot, and onto an
access road at a adjacent park. (The latter complete with
an assist from the Street Department, with trimmed a concrete
curb nearest the rear of the station.)
Here are some similar stories, culled a while back from
members of a firefighting mailing list. Happy holidays.
"High Point, NC, ordered five 75' quints. Three of
them, however, couldn't fit in the stations because of
height problems. We looked at one that was stored in the
basement of their headquarters station. I hear they were
sold without having ever been used."
"Around 1975, Stony Point, NY was anticipating the
delivery of their first aerial apparatus, a 75' snorkel.
Having measured the building and checked the specs for the
truck, they dug up, removed, and replaced the apparatus
floor. Needless to say, when the truck was delivered, it
still didn't fit. So they had to dig up the floor
"My hometown in eastern Massachusetts, name withheld
to protect the not-so-innocent, ordered a ladder truck about
12 years ago. According to the drawings, it would fit inside
the station, until it struck the top of the doorway on its
very first call. The apparatus sat back behind Station #2
until the main station underwent a rehab four or five years
"I recall when our new 105' E-One aerial tower
arrived in Adelphia, NJ. All of the measurements had been
done and our 1965 station was found sufficiently tall to
accept the new unit. On the day of its arrival, we drilled
outside with the technician from the factory. The unit was
not backed in until later in the evening and made it by
about two inches. We are still debating whether to raise the
door or lower the floor."
"Most electric doors have a little rope that hangs
from the ceiling, that's used to disconnect the door from
the motorized track if the power fails. Several years ago at
Forbes Air Force Base, KS, the rope caught on the top of a
tanker. The light bar was destroyed but not the door. The
driver stopped in time. Something similar happened in Leon
Springs, TX, when our big pumper/tanker caught the rope. The
lower panel of that door had to be replaced. Thank goodness
the Chief was driving and not me!"
"A number of years ago, we purchased a brush engine
built on a GMC chassis with an American-Coleman all-wheel
drive conversion. (We get about 400" of snowfall
annually.) When the truck was delivered, however, it was too
high for the fire station. The light bar was at least six
inches higher than the top of the bay doors. So, we
relocated the light bar to the front bumper where it was
actually more effective. (Because it's the same height as
the rear window of a car or light truck.) And even though we
later built a new station with much taller bay doors, the
light bar remained on the bumper. As far as I know. it's
still there today, though the truck was sold to another
department last year."
A version of this column originally appeared at
Code 3 Collectibles.
Copyright 2017 by Michael J. Legeros