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The 2016 SPAAMFAA Summer Convention

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.