Print  RSS 
Feb 28

Paul McLane
2/28/2013 6:14:00 PM 

I’ve always been pleased to hear about how people in our industry spend their free time. From piloting planes to operating big model trains … from jumping off high buildings with bungee cords attached, to appearing on stage in Shakespeare plays … the diversity of interests is lovely.

Martin Ashley is deputy director of Senate & Assembly Radio Services at the California State Capitol. He’s a former DJ, engineer and voice talent. He also is the only guy I know who owns a fire engine.

“My grandfather was a battalion chief in the Sacramento Fire Department,” he told me, “and as a child I spent an occasional Saturday visiting firehouses with him.” While surfing the Internet in 2008 he ran across advertisements for used fire engines and trucks, which led him to one for a 1975 Seagrave P-Series Pumper, listed as a former Sacramento rig.

“It was parked alongside the freeway in the Northern California town of Yreka. It had been there since 2003, after being sold at auction by the City of Sacramento.”

He contacted the representative and flew his airplane up to see it (hah! another hobby!). “I completed my due diligence with a diesel repair shop, insurance agent and DMV regulations, and contacted the owner, who had listed it at $4,000. It was owned by a fire equipment company in Southern California. I offered him $1,500 and he accepted.” The vehicle had sat in the rain and snow for five years; Ashley believes his was the first and only offer.
Here is the fire engine as Ashley found it in 2008.

A friend owns a diesel repair business and let Ashley build a large steel building on the lot, to house the truck. There, Ashley has put it back together. “Nothing except the body and engine was left on the rig. All appliances, warning lights and hoses/tools had been removed.”

He has reinstalled Whelen Series 7000 Super LED perimeter warning lights, Whelen front alternating strobes, Code 3 Model 550FR rear rotating beacons, American Signal 400R rotating beacon and a David-Clark U3800 Master Intercom in the cab with U3801 Remote Stations for the jump seats and David-Clark headsets in all positions.

He has restored or refurbished a conventional Motorola Syntor 12-frequency radio; a Motorola Syntor 32-frequency radio with priority scan; a Federal Signal PA300 electronic siren/PA; a customized Motorola trunking control head to integrate two-way radio audio into the David-Clark intercom system and PA portion of the siren/PA; and two Motorola HT220 four-frequency Handi-Talkies.

It all adds up, in weight as well as cost. “The water, hoses, tools, nozzles, radios, extinguishers, turnout gear and vehicle weight brings it to around 23,000 pounds,” he says. “The Detroit Diesel engine is a 418 horsepower 8V71 with an Allison automatic five-speed transmission.” Ashley has stopped counting how much he has spent on repair and retrofit. He describes his process as preservation, and thinks a true restoration would cost 200 grand or more.

So what does he do with this baby?

“The Sacramento Fire Department has embraced my efforts to preserve a piece of their history and invites me to fire station open houses and displays,” he replied. “I routinely make the parade rounds, beginning with July 4th and continuing through Veterans Day. I also take the fire engine to schools, fire swap meets and museums.”

He received historical vehicle license plates that restrict its use to such functions. “However, there are no restrictions on how many miles a year it can be driven — unlike what many vintage vehicle insurance policies allow. I often make the rounds to fire stations to share memories with those who have had experience with this particular truck. It amazes me that so many firefighters have, at one time or another, been associated with it and have wonderful stories to tell about it.”

He added a story to illustrate.

“A retired captain with the Sacramento Fire Department spent his final 13 years on this rig. Joe and the fire engine both retired at the same time and the engine went to auction. On a family trip through Northern California to Oregon, he caught a glimpse of the rig as he drove by on the freeway near Yreka. He took the next turnoff and found it sitting in the truck boneyard. He told me it brought a tear to his eye to see his former rig rotting away.”

A year and a half later, the retired caption learned via a friend in the department that Ashley had purchased the truck and brought it back to Sacramento.

“He asked if he could see it. I will always remember the look on his face upon seeing it back in service condition. Joe and all the city firefighters are the reason I was devoted to preserving their history. The day Joe brought his grandchild by to see his old rig was the day I knew I had accomplished my goal in honoring my grandfather for his dedication to the fire service.”

Here it is in its restored beauty. Click to enlarge.

  Click on the Image to Enlarge


Thank you for your comment. Please note that posts are reviewed for suitability and may not appear until the next business day.


December 2016 (2)
November 2016 (5)
October 2016 (7)
September 2016 (4)
August 2016 (6)
July 2016 (5)
June 2016 (3)
May 2016 (4)
April 2016 (3)
March 2016 (6)
February 2016 (4)
January 2016 (6)
December 2015 (7)
November 2015 (6)
October 2015 (11)
September 2015 (7)
August 2015 (8)
July 2015 (10)
June 2015 (14)
May 2015 (5)
April 2015 (6)
March 2015 (6)
February 2015 (4)
January 2015 (5)
December 2014 (7)
November 2014 (6)
October 2014 (10)
September 2014 (11)
August 2014 (14)
July 2014 (4)
June 2014 (2)
May 2014 (5)
April 2014 (4)
March 2014 (6)
February 2014 (7)
January 2014 (8)
December 2013 (9)
November 2013 (11)
October 2013 (9)
September 2013 (6)
August 2013 (5)
July 2013 (1)
June 2013 (4)
May 2013 (3)
April 2013 (2)
March 2013 (8)
February 2013 (8)
January 2013 (7)
December 2012 (3)
November 2012 (4)
October 2012 (7)
September 2012 (10)
August 2012 (4)
July 2012 (7)
June 2012 (4)
May 2012 (5)
April 2012 (10)
March 2012 (5)
February 2012 (6)
January 2012 (5)
December 2011 (5)
November 2011 (5)
October 2011 (8)
September 2011 (9)
August 2011 (10)
July 2011 (6)
June 2011 (5)
May 2011 (7)
April 2011 (3)
March 2011 (9)
February 2011 (6)
January 2011 (7)
December 2010 (2)
November 2010 (3)
October 2010 (6)
September 2010 (10)
August 2010 (8)
July 2010 (7)
June 2010 (5)
May 2010 (5)
April 2010 (11)
March 2010 (7)
February 2010 (5)
January 2010 (4)
December 2009 (2)
November 2009 (4)
October 2009 (5)
September 2009 (6)
August 2009 (4)
July 2009 (3)
June 2009 (15)
May 2009 (8)
April 2009 (6)
March 2009 (2)
February 2009 (2)
January 2009 (1)
December 2008 (5)