The 2016 summer meeting of the Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Motor Fire Apparatus in America (SPAAMFAA) was held in Middletown, New York, recently. SPAAMFAA exists “to serve as a place where people having an interest in antique fire apparatus can gather to share that interest and to further the preservation of antique fire apparatus,” according to its mission statement. Founded in 1958, it has steadily grown to become an organization of more than three thousand members from countries around the globe.
As with every summer meeting, there were many rigs displayed by the various members in attendance, some noticeably “antique,” others much more modern in appearance. There were chief’s cars, ambulances, brush trucks, tankers, pumpers (fire engines), straight frame ladder trucks (fire trucks), and several tractor-drawn aerials (what many consider a “hook and ladders”). There was even a fire engine that had been turned into a dump truck!
Above: An Ahrens-Fox, formerly of North Atlleborough, Massachusetts, making its way through the parade.
Below: No, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you - the tillerman has canted the rear of this ladder truck sideways a bit, "crabbing" it down the street. It's fun, but it puts added strain on the tractor up front.
Perhaps the most astounding part of this summer’s meet and muster, however, was the host site. Middletown, NY, is not some grand metropolis with many cultural attractions. In many ways, it is very typical of other small towns throughout North America. For the knowledgeable fire buff, however, it is a place worthy of at least one pilgrimage. The reason for this is that Middletown is the home of Andy and Avery Leider’s collection of fire apparatus – and what a collection it is.
Housed in what is referred to as “The Truck House,” the Leider collection encompasses several hundred vehicles, almost all of which are fire-related. There are airport crash trucks, tractor-drawn aerials of many vintages, snorkels, straight-frame ladder trucks, and several vehicles that have been converted from their original fire-fighting form to become open-top tour buses (seen above, in the center of the photo), pizza delivery vehicles, or “movie stars.” (You can read more about the vehicles in the collection here.)
Above: This is just a small part of what's inside the "Truck House." In addition to the vehicles Andy and Avery own, there are also a fair amount owned by friends in the area.
Luckily, we have more than just words and photos to remember this fun event. YouTuber homer218 took these videos over the weekend and has kindly made them available to all. We hope you enjoy the show.