Old 66: Pumper comes home to Pine Grove FD

PINE GROVE -- On Sunday firefighters and family members celebrated the return of Old 66, the first pumper of the Pine Grove Fire District.

The 1948 Ford, with the original vehicle code of 66, was used for nearly 30 years, and eventually purchased by Bob Thomsen for a keepsake.

It's glossy red coat gleamed in the brief bit of sunshine to hit Pine Grove Sunday, as the department gathered in front of the station to dedicate the restored vehicle and thank the people who devoted time and resources to the project.

Several years ago Thomsen returned the truck to the department for restoration, after keeping it in storage for years. The department has been working on the truck for about three years, starting with a complete engine rebuild, then new paint and restored accessories.

"A lot of guys put a lot of work into this," said department safety officer Kenny Morikado. "It's quite an achievement."

Most of the assembly was done in Steve Bickford's packing house under the supervision of Steve and his brother, Don.

"I'm glad to have it done," Bickford said with a smile. He said work remaining includes restoring the pump and plumbing system on Old 66. That might have been done by now said the orchardist, "but the harvest came along."

Old 66 is not used for firefighting, but for parades and special events. It made its first parade appearance in 2000, with department veterans riding in rocking chairs.

Old-timers from the department posed along with current members for an official photo before a brief ceremony featuring family members of Shig Yamaki, who served the department for 46 years before his death in 1996. A large part of the $12,000 spent restoring Old 66 camd from Shig Yamaki's estate, Morikado said. Another large portion of the funding came from the department's annual auction, held in March. The 2002 edition will be the 37th.

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