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SOURCE: Teaneck Suburbanite, March 4, 2009. p. 3.

Truck needs permanent home for retirement (1933 REO Hose Wagon)
Fire Chief Montgomery seeks to save township's history

By Howard Prosnitz, Staff Writer

REO hose wagonAn antique of Teaneck history sits inaccessible to public view in the Windsor Road firehouse. The 1933 REO hose wagon was converted by fire department mechanics in 1949 into a light and sound truck. The truck, which is still operable, was last used in the 1970s.

Fire Chief Robert Montgomery wants the township to establish a historical society and set up a building for proper display of the truck and other fire department and Teaneck memorabilia. He envisions a structue built on a parking lot south of the Windsor Road firehouse similar to a partially glass enclosed fire department museum in Wildwood. In such a building, he said, the truck would be visible from the outside and visitors would be able to enter to view other memorabilia.

Montgomery has spoken to township building official Stephen Gluck about the feasibility of the project.

Montgomery rejects the suggestion of using the old police headquarters as a township museum, siting asbestos, lead contamination and absence of heat in the building.

The fire department has an abundance of memorabilia and old photographs, much of it is stored in Montgomery's garage. He has been informed by former township manager Helene Fall that a 501 account would have to be established with the IRS in order to set up a historical society.

"It could not be done with tax money but by private donations. We would have to have a board of trustees and could spend the money solely for historical purposes," Montgomery said.

"Teaneck has never had any sort of historical museum. We have a historian but notiong else."

The 1933 hose engine was originally part of a volunteer fire department in Glenwood Park.

Montgomery's father, an iron worker and a member of the Glenwood Park fire department, was asked to fabricate the body for the renovated truck.

"At the time he was reluctant because he remembered it as the old Glenwood Park hose wagon. He did not become a paid firefighter until 1940s," Montgomery said.

Model T EngineUntil the 1950s fire trucks had open cabs. The closed cab, which was added as part of the conversion, was taken from a Dodge pickup truck. A Model T engine was installed in a side compartment to generate power for the two lights and two speakers that were mounted on the roof during a fire.

"In those days fire trucks did not come with a lot of side lighting to light up an area. Light trucks were state-of-the-art," Montgomery explained.

A permanently mounted deck gun took water from four separate hoses, generating a high volume stream for heavy fires and those where the building was inaccessible to firefighters. The stick shift operated vehicle reached a maximum speed of 25 miles an hour. Montgomery recalls using it at a 1970s fire at the former Ronald's Furniture store on Teaneck Road.

REO manufactured automobiles and fire trucks from year to year. The company was established by Robert E. Olds after he left the Oldsmobile, which he had founded.

Gluck did not return a phone call by press time.

Councilman Elie Y. Katz said he supported the idea of establishing a historical society and museum and suggested using the vacant Police Athletic League building as its headquarters.

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