On June 6th, one of Manheim Fire Dept.'s former fire engines, a 1970 Howe pumper, returned to Manheim. Assistant Chief Duane Ober, with help from his brother Brian, also a firefighter, and Kenny Boughter, was able to negotiate a deal with Copeland Fire Department in Millry, Alabama, to purchase the pumper from them and bring it back to Manheim. The pumper, now known as "Howie", is privately-owned by Asst. Chief Ober; it was not purchased from donations made to the fire company from the community. The pumper, which will turn 50 years old next year, was still in active service with Copeland FD until a few years ago.
This pumper, known as Engine 2-6-A for many years, served the Manheim community from 1970 until it was sold in 1987 to Wall Fire Company (PA). Wall Fire Co. then sold the pumper to Copeland in 1992. When the pumper returned to Manheim, it only had 15,605 miles on it - after 49 years of use! The pumper is in good condition; it is mechanically sound and it was just pumping water yesterday with the fire company Engineers and Asst. Chief Ober.
The Obers have a desire to take it in local parades, car shows and other special events in the area. You will also find the Obers and others driving it around Manheim - just out enjoying the fun that an open-cab fire truck brings to the owners and riders. Why did fire trucks have no roofs you ask? Open-cab fire trucks were common because they allowed firefighters dressed in fire gear to easily climb in and out of the fire trucks, and also allowed the firefighters a better view of the fire as they approached it, especially in cities, where firefighters could see higher floors of skyscrapers more easily. However, as time moved on and safety features became more common in automobiles, one upgrade that became common was the elimination of open-cabs.
With that being said, being able to bring back a piece of our history, let alone an open-cab pumper, is such a great thrill for the Obers and many others involved. Stay tuned to the fire company's Facebook page as additional photos will be shared in the future of Howie and our members enjoying its return.