For sale: 1955 rescue truck. Only 23,000 miles. Make Batavia an offer.
For sale: Former rescue squad. Some rust. Low mileage. Once the pride of the Batavia Fire Department -- in 1955.
The city is putting the 1955½ Chevrolet 3800 panel truck on the auction block.
It's been taking up space in a city garage for a couple of years. Before that, it was assigned for about 25 years to the city's Emergency Services and Disaster Agency.
Despite its age, it only has 23,300 miles on it. And yes, it runs.
Fire Chief Randy Deicke told aldermen this week a former Batavia firefighter, as well as a former ESDA director, are interested in buying the vehicle. After a reporter told him about seeing similar vehicles listed on classics.autotrader.com, he checked the site.
"From looking at those things on the website, I was surprised they can get $5,000, $7,000," Deicke said.
The city council will declare the truck as surplus property Sept. 2.
In 1954, Batavia Fire Chief Frank "Bud" Richter proposed getting a rescue truck, in his biweekly "Smoke Signals" column in the Batavia Herald newspaper. Such a truck would be useful for hauling a resuscitator device and other first aid and rescue equipment to emergencies, rather than having to put such items on a big fire truck, he wrote. Especially when a fire truck wasn't necessarily needed at emergencies such as medical calls, river rescues and automobile crashes. The vehicle would more nimbly navigate the city's streets, too.
He proposed paying for it through private donations, and estimated it would cost about $5,000 to buy the truck, get it outfitted, and buy equipment such as stretchers, cots, acetylene cutting torches, salvage covers and first-aid supplies.
More than half the money was raised in a one-night campaign in November 1954 by about 100 volunteers who went door-to-door asking for money. It was enough to order the vehicle and a two-way radio for it. The rest was raised in the next few months. Longtime Batavia dealer Avenue Chevrolet sold the vehicle at cost.
The truck was dedicated and blessed July 4, 1955, at the annual fireworks show put on by the city's firefighters.