Fox Chapel Volunteer Fire Department was originally started by the Fox Chapel Authority (water authority) but was disbanded at the end of World War II. In 1947, Senator William Flynn, who owned nearby Beechwood Farms, purchased two Army surplus fire trucks. One was kept at the Borough Building, and one was designated to Beechwood Farms. Paul Boyle, the farm’s foreman, trained the other workers how to use the truck.
When the Fox Chapel VFD was established in 1953 its first fire trucks were the two Army surplus trucks mentioned above (a four wheel drive fire truck still packed in shipping grease and a two wheel drive Chevy pumper) as well as a 1939 Diamond T pumper purchased from the Fox Chapel Authority. There are no known photographs of these original three apparatus.
1955 Mack B-85
The first new fire engine purchased by the FCVFD was a 1955 Mack B-85 which featured a 707 cubic inch, straight six-cylinder gasoline engine paired to a five speed transmission. This Mack, designated as Engine 1 and housed at the Borough Building, was capable of pumping 750 gpm and remained in service until the mid 1970s. The original purchase price was $18,500.
1958 Mack B-85
A short time later, the FCVFD purchased a 1958 Mack B-85 pumper designated as Engine 2 and housed in a barn at Beechwood Farms. Almost identical to Engine 1, the 1958 Mack could be identified by the addition of turn signals (aside from lettering on the doors). The 1958 Mack B-85 remained in service until the 1980s. It was eventually purchased by a private truck collector who shortened the frame and turned it into a tractor, pulling a lowboy trailer with an AC Bulldog Mack to truck shows.
1975 Mack CF686F
The first cab-forward fire engine the Fox Chapel VFD purchased was a 1975 Mack CF686F 1250 gpm Pumper. This Mack started its life as FCVFD’s Engine 1. This engine had manual transmission, and only a handful of members mastered the art of driving it as double clutching was necessary. This Mack was eventually re-lettered as Engine 2 or rather “Truck 2” and was sent to Station 2 on Dorseyville Road (the FCVFD’s old engines were actually labeled as “Trucks”).
1977 Chevrolet Van
In 1977 the FCVFD acquired a Chevrolet Van which served as the department’s first rescue-focused vehicle. In addition to various hand tools, this van carried the FCVFD’s first HURST hydraulic rescue tools, commonly known as the “jaws of life”. This van also had a K-BAR-T rescue tool and had a couple homemade bench seats along the sides. Once the FCVFD purchased a Mack Rescue truck in 1984 this van was moved to Station 2 and used mostly for personnel transport and public service events. For quite a few years it served as Race Control for the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix.
1978 Mack CF
In 1978, the FCVFD purchased another Mack CF with an automatic transmission to serve as a new engine, lettered as “Truck 1” and housed as the FCVFD’s main station behind the Fox Chapel Borough Building. This was the FCVFD’s first fire engine which had an automatic transmission, and it was also three feet longer than the 1975 Mack CF, but otherwise it was mostly similar.
1982 Chevrolet / Pierce 4x4
By the 1980s the Fox Chapel area was becoming more developed, and while there was not a need for a dedicated brush truck, this 1982 4×4 Chevrolet Pierce mini-pumper was a highly effective apparatus. Known as Engine 3, this truck’s 454 big block engine, manual transmission, and locking hubs allowed it to go anywhere (with the right driver, of course).
1984 Mack Midliner MS250
The FCVFD’s first rescue truck was a 1984 Mack Midliner MS250. The body of this truck was designed by now defunct Eastern Rescue, and it was built by now defunct Sanford Fire Apparatus of Syracuse, NY. Current President Bob Hoffman and former Chief Hap Humes picked up this truck from Sanford’s plant and drove it back to Fox Chapel in a blinding snowstorm.
1994 Seagrave Pumper
In 1994, the Fox Chapel VFD purchased a Seagrave 1500 gpm pumper equipped with a Cummins engine and Allison transmission. Designated as Engine 2 and housed at Station 2, this beast of fire engine served the FCVFD until 2015, at which point it was sold to the City of New Kensington, PA and currently serves as New Kensington Fire Department Engine 1.
1991 GMC Suburban 2500 SLX
In 2000, the FCVFD acquired this 1991 GMC Suburban 2500 SLX from the Fox Chapel Borough Public Works Department. Originally purchased as a superintendent’s vehicle, this Suburban started its life all white, and it was only painted red when acquired by the FCVFD. It served from 2000-2018 as FCVFD Squad 1 and was then purchased by former FCVFD member Bob Huber. It is presently owned by FCVFD member Mike Pohl.