Virginia’s Unusual Apparatus, or Going Back in Time – Greater Manassas Volunteer Rescue Squad

Virginia’s Unusual Apparatus, or Going Back in Time – Greater Manassas Volunteer Rescue Squad – Manassas, VA

By Mike Sanders mnsand@visuallink.com

VaFireNews.com has profiled Virginia apparatus in our on-going series of “Going Back in Time” and “Virginia’s Unusual Apparatus”.  This time, we will combine the two and profile a most unique rescue truck.

Have you ever looked at a fire or rescue truck and wonder “how did that happen”?  Specifically, have you seen a truck where its cab and body were two unlikely companions and you kind of doubt that they were originally built that way?  Virginia has had (and I guess still does) its share of unique combinations where fire and rescue departments got creative to build a one of a kind truck.  I would have to say that my favorite in this category was a rescue truck that at one time ran at the Greater Manassas Volunteer Rescue Squad and then finished its career at the Reynolds Store Volunteer Fire Department.

The Greater Manassas Volunteer Rescue Squad at one time operated a 1973 Chevrolet C65 with a 12’ Reading built rescue squad body.  I suppose the department was having problems with the 1973 Chevrolet but liked the squad body itself.

1973 Chevrolet C65/Reading “Squad One” – Mike Sanders photo

In early 1991, the department started looking for a replacement for the aging Chevrolet chassis.  Keplinger Repair Service of Winchester had obtained a 1971 American LaFrance engine formerly owned by the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA), which operates the Ronald Regan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia.   While in service at MWAA, the 1971 American LaFrance engine ran as “Red 327” and was assigned to both airports during its career.

Red 327 from MWAA – Mike Sanders photo collection

Red 327 after being taken out of service at MWAA – Mike Sanders photo collection

A unique combination was created in resolve the problem with the 1973 Chevrolet/Reading.  Over an eight month time period, Keplinger Repair took the cab of “Red 327” and joined it to the Reading squad body to create a unique truck for the Greater Manassas VRS.  In addition to the ALF/Reading match, Keplinger Repair completed a major overhaul of the entire truck, including new diamond plate, new lighting package, and the addition of a hydraulic winch.  For a fraction of the cost of a new truck, Greater Manassas VRS obtained a very versatile rescue squad.

Squad One is a 1971 American LaFrance/1973 Reading/1991 Keplinger Repair.

Squad One at Greater Manassas remained in service until approximately 1996, when the department took delivery of a new 1996 Spartan/American Fire & Rescue heavy squad.  As a result, the American LaFrance squad was ultimately sold and eventually purchased by the Reynolds Store Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company in Frederick County, Virginia.  While at Reynolds Store, it ran as Squad 20.

Squad 20 at Reynolds Store, VA

Reynolds Store sold the American LaFrance in approximately 2003 when they placed in service a large Pierce Quantum rescue engine.  Eventually, old age took over the squad body and it was scrapped.  The American LaFrance cab was used for parts to restore another American LaFrance engine.

I hope you enjoyed this unique combination of Virginia’s Unusual Apparatus and Going Back in Time.

There are numerous antique fire trucks throughout Virginia.  If you have an interest in Virginia’s antique fire apparatus, consider joining the Old Dominion Historical Fire Society (ODHFS).  You can get more information about ODHFS by visiting www.odhfs.org.

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4 Responses

  • anonomyous says:

    Mike- really enjoyed the article. Very cool history.

  • MAtt says:

    It was sold, in 2008, back to Keplinger for much less than I offered Renyolds Store in 2006. It is ashame that it is no longer around.

  • Chris M says:

    Love the flashback. I had lots of fun on both squads, sad to hear it’s no longer around. Thanks for writing the article.

  • Jeff H says:

    Excellent article. I ran with Manassas Resuce for 17 years and remember being part of the Committee that was searching for the right chassis for our Reading body. Squad 1 responded to many critical calls and held up well. It served the volunteers and their community well.

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