Seaford's antique truck is heading to New York

By Lynn R. Parks

The Seaford Volunteer Fire Department has been invited to participate in a ceremony commemorating the 50th birthday of the John D. McKean, a fireboat owned by the Marine Co. 1 Manhattan of the New York City Fire Department. The department will show its 1921 Seagraves pumper, currently on display in the fire museum on High Street, Seaford. Andy Swift, who restored the pumper to its original condition last year, was asked by the marine company to invite fire companies to show their antique equipment. The Seagraves was among the dozen engines he invited because the New York City Fire Department uses Seagraves equipment. “I thought [the old Seagraves] would capture the interest of the firemen of New York City,” said Swift, who operates his company, Firefly Restoration, from Hope, Maine. “I thought they would get a kick out of seeing it.” Swift said that the Seagraves pumper, white with lavender trim and gold leaf embellishment, is “one of the most unique” pieces of firefighting equipment in the country. “It is certainly unique in color and in the marine motif of its designs,” he said. The gold leaf paintings are of boats. Ron Marvel, spokesman for the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department, said that its volunteers are “tickled to death” to participate in the ceremony. Four of its members will take the truck to New York City Saturday, Sept. 11, the day before the ceremony. The department is sponsoring a bus for department members and their spouses who want to attend the ceremony Sunday, Sept. 12, at the Intrepid Sea, Air, Space Museum on Pier 86 on the Husdon River in Manhattan.
“The Seagraves is a rare and unique piece of equipment,” Marvel said. “This will be our opportunity to show it off.” The John D. McKean fireboat was built in 1954 and was named after a Marine Co. 1 member who died in the line of duty. “He was burned severely in a steam explosion but he stayed at his post,” Swift said. “He died a few days later.” The fireboat, which is still in service, participated in firefighting and rescue efforts after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center. The 1921 Seagraves was purchased by the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department in 1921. It was used by the department until 1960, when it was sold to Brown’s Fire Equipment in Greenwood. The late John Willey, Seaford, bought the engine in 2002 and gave it to the City of Seaford. Members who volunteered to transport the engine to New York include Barry Calhoun, Ric Marvel, Wayne Rigby and Mark and Randy O’Bier.

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