Police & Fire

No Town Money to Restore Roxbury's First Fire Truck

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Roxbury's first fire truck, photographed in 2015
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ROXBURY, NJ – Roxbury firefighters on Tuesday were told “sorry” when they sought township help in restoring their cherished 1917 fire truck.

Roxbury Fire Co. 1 in Succasunna wants to restore the old Model T in time for this August's 100th anniversary parade. The firefighters initially received estimates of up to $70,000 to refurbish the little vehicle – Roxbury’s first fire truck – but firefighters eventually found a shop that will do it for about $14,000.

The antique cost Roxbury about $1,800 a century ago and is now valued at about $30,000.

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“Earlier we had gotten some estimates on refurbing it and they were out of the ballpark,” firefighter Tom Bilancia told the township Mayor and Council on Tuesday. “But we had this company, Blue Sky (Performance and Restorations of Budd Lake) approach us and they would like to sandblast it all down, paint it and have it lettered like the original lettering … We wanted to bring it to council to see if there was anything you could do to help out with that.”

They firefighters made the request on the same night the council introduced the 2017 township budget, a close-to-the-bones spending plan. Money to restore the old truck isn’t part of that plan.

“Well, we’re adopting our budget and we don’t have that kind of money sitting in the budget anywhere,” said Roxbury Councilman Jim Rilee.

“That’s what I was telling you last week,” added Roxbury Township Manager Christopher Raths. “$14,000 in this budget is going to be difficult.”

He suggested the firefighters look to fundraising.

“We’ve been doing some fundraising," Bilancia responded. “We have to check on our monies, with all the monies we’re going to spend on the parade. If there’s anything the council can do to kind of help …”

Raths said he would “go back over it” with the firefighters, but suggested they solicit donations from other township organizations such as the Roxbury Area Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club.

“If there’s any way we can help you to raise the money, don’t hesitate to give us a shout,” added Roxbury Councilman Bob DeFillippo before the firefighters left the meeting.

In its estimate, Blue Sky proposes stripping the truck down to its frame and repairing the sheet metal and other components including those made of wood. It calls for subcontracting some of the work, such as hand-lettering and gold-leafing.

The estimate does not mention any engine work. Discussing the truck about two years ago, veteran Roxbury firefighter Charles Alpaugh said one of the Ford’s little quirks is a minor misfire in the ancient 4-cylinder engine.

Alpaugh, who was 78 at the time, loves the old truck. The vehicle’s almost been a part of Alpaugh’s family, having once been stored in his grandmother’s barn.

Nevertheless, Alpaugh said he questioned whether a soup-to-nuts restoration is truly necessary. “Everybody treats it with respect, but we don’t put a barbed-wire fence around it either,” he said in 2015. “That’s my analysis of it.”

Although he remains active in the fire department, Alpaugh on Thursday said it wasn’t his place to discuss the restoration effort at this point. He deferred comment to Roxbury Fire Co. 1 Association President John Miller, who did not return a messages seeking comment.

All three Roxbury fire companies will join in the centennial parade, an event expected to draw fire companies from near and far as well as thousands of spectators. The parade is proposed to take place Aug. 12 on Main Street in Succasunna.

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