The City of Dayton Fire Department received their very first elevating ladder truck in 1976. In early April of 1976, the Dayton City Council took action and ordered the delivery of a basic pumper truck with the elevating platform to be added in early 1977, after the delivery of the apparatus.
The Dayton City Council consisting of A.P. Condra, Arnold Fitzgerald, Paul Levengood, and Dr. G.V. Taylor were present (Jimmy Cunnyngham was absent) and accepted the bid of $109,750 for the complete unit that was offered by Professional Fire Equipment of Chattanooga. The new truck was paid for with funds from the 1975 and 1976 Community Development Federal Aid funds.
The winning bid was not actually the lowest bid, a lower bid of $96,000 was submitted by Acme Fire Apparatus of Nashville. The Council decided to go with the higher bid due to the fact that the bidder from Chattanooga would make delivery of the apparatus immediately and Acme Apparatus of Nashville had a delivery delay of 12-18 months.
On May 6, 1976, Dayton’s Fire Chief Darrell Holmes and his men were on hand when the newest addition to its fleet arrived. The truck was immediately equipped with fire hoses and other necessary fire fighting equipment so the truck could be placed into service as a pumper until the scheduled snorkel platform could be added to it after the first of the year.
In February of 1977, the new apparatus was taken to St. Joseph, Missouri, where the snorkel platform was installed. A month later Dayton’s new Fire Chief Paul Patton along with firemen Fred Roddy and Larry Morrison spent three days in Missouri learning how to operate the snorkel.
“Snorkel One” was officially tested on March 28th on the parking lot of Kayser Roth in downtown Dayton. Policemen, firemen and other City officials took their turn riding up to the truck’s maximum height of 55 feet.
One of the Snorkel’s first major fires was the Big Orange Arcade and Amusement Center in downtown Dayton in the late 1970’s. The last major fire it was used on was the M&L Custom Cabinetry on Hwy 27 south in 2005. In between, the Snorkel truck saw many fires such as the Eckerd Drug Richland Park Shopping Center, the old freezer plant on Second Ave, the old five story mill building on Railroad Street, Bryan College and many two-story house fires in Dayton. The truck also traveled outside of Dayton's city limits responding to many mutual aid fire calls to our neighboring fire departments.
The truck was taken out of service and placed in reserve status under the command of Fire Chief Chuck Suttles and eventually retired.
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