CLEVELAND -- Fire trucks are a symbol of hope to those in need of help, but in the case of the East Sparta Volunteer Fire Department just outside of Canton, Ohio, their main engine is a rolling mural of remembrance in honor to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
In the years following the attacks of September 11, 2001, a day that saw 343 members of the Fire Department of New York perish in the North and South towers of the World Trade Center, memorials have been constructed all over the country, much of which out of the very steel recovered from Ground Zero.
But East Sparta Chief Arnie Adams had a different remembrance in mind, as he decided to make his truck a rolling memorial, adorning the engine with an American Flag wrap and a mural of three firefighters raising a flag at the site of the attacks in New York City on the rear quarter panels.
“I don’t think we’re patriotic enough, most people aren’t, and we just thought it was very nice to do a patriotic theme for the truck,” said Adams, who has been East Sparta’s Fire Chief for 12 years.
The new truck was delivered to the East Sparta Volunteer Fire Department 10 years after the attacks of September 11, and after three weeks of work at a local graphics shop in Canton, it was officially put into service.
And no matter where it goes, be it the Ohio Fire Expo in Columbus or a community parade, it is always a topic of conversation.
“I just think when you see it, it gives you a little bit of a boost,” Adams said. “It gives you some pride in America, especially when you see it at nighttime because that’s all reflective. Every bit of that truck’s reflective. It looks like a stop sign because it stands out very bright.”
Photos: International Firefighters Day
While the truck has a distinctive patriotic look, the graphics serve a safety purpose within the regulations of the National Fire Protection Association.
“Actually, the NFPA requires so much of the truck has to be reflective, so it wasn’t a matter of cost to make it reflective and do the color scheme to make it look like this,” Adams said. “The NFPA requires so many square feet of reflective material around the truck, so instead of just doing some stripes and put stripes down the truck, we did the whole truck.”
Chief Adams has a few more trucks that he plans on giving patriotic upgrades to in the near future so that people always remember the sacrifices made by those in service.
“I think it’s just unique, and I think it’s a good way to honor our veterans and our firemen that went into action,” Adams said.
“Never forget. I don’t want to forget. That truck’s going to be here for 20 years, and it’s going to be 20 years of people being reminded every time they see it. Never forget 9/11.”