Great Falls Fire Rescue recently received a generous donation from Jim and Joyce Moerkerke: a 1941 Seagrave 85' Aerial Ladder Truck that started serving the Electric City in 1960, and was retired in February 2020.
"In 2001, when the truck was decommissioned, it went up to public auction," said Assistant Fire Chief Robert Shupe. "A private buyer bought it. I understand it changed hands once since then. It came into hands by somebody who knew our mayor, and they wanted to know if we would be interested in having it donated back so we would have a piece of our history donated to the city. We made some connections and put it together. the folks were generous enough to give it back to the city and give us a piece of history back."
The truck was decommissioned due to obsolete equipment.
"In 2001, it was determined that it didn't have the safety features that modern day fire apparatus have. It also couldn't pass the latter test anymore such as the load bearing and weight requirements.
During the time it was active however, this was a one-of-a-kind truck. Shupe mentioned that these trucks were usually seen in some of the larger, major cities.
He said having a ladder that could reach 85 feet was impressive during its time, especially serving in a smaller city like Great Falls.
Shupe added this was before a lot of code enforcement and fire prevention features that were inside buildings such as sprinkler systems.
Shupe said, "I think Great Falls was one of the first to have a ladder truck in the state."
Despite its old age and decades spent serving the community, there has been no overall signs of wear and tear.
"These people have really maintained. We just used it in a funeral procession for our fallen brother, Captain Mike Kuntz, and this apparatus runs like a top."
Fire Rescue said they plan to keep the truck at Fire Station 1 as a static display, and also hope to use it during celebrations.
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