Archbold, OH

The Fire Truck That Could

This rural Ohio story was collected by John McRobbie from his grandfather for his Introduction to Folklore project in 1992:

One day, back in 1927, a fire broke out on a farm just north of Wauseon. It kept spreading and getting bigger and bigger. The Wauseon fire department couldn’t control it, so they called in the Delta and Fayette fire departments to help. But they couldn’t stop it either.

It kept spreading. The owner of the property said, “I’ll give $40 to any fire department that can save my farm.” That was a lot of money back then.

Now about 12 miles away was the little town of Archbold, and when their fire department heard about the money, four volunteers jumped in their truck, a 1921 International tanker, and headed for the fire. The old truck charged across the field and, to everyone’s surprise, never slowed down. It just drove right into the flames, right smack dab in the middle of the fire. They got their hoses out and circled the fire from the inside- and little by little they got it under control.

Cheers came from the crowd and from the other fire companies.

“Well,” said the farmer, “You did it. You put the fire out- I’ll write you out a check for $40.”

A reporter from the Toledo Blade rushed over to the Archbold fireman and said, “That was a great maneuver. What are your plans for the $40?”

“Well,” said the chief, “the first thing we’re gonna do is get the brakes fixed on that damn truck.”

– Toledo Alumni Magazine, Spring 2003. Contributed by Jo Lantz

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