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February 2009
1st Responder Newspaper

Totowa's Gloor lends his newly restored pumper to celebrate 100th Anniversary


1st Responder Correspondant

There was a special entry in Totowa's 100th Anniversary parade on June 27. Former Assistant Fire Chief, Frank E. Gloor paraded his newly restored, personal fire truck, a 1950 Mack Triple Combo Pumper. It's a sentimental tribute to the town he loves and a life spent wrapped up in fire fighting and family.

In a way, it's a memorial to his father, a Firefighter for 55 years, and Totowa's Fire Chief from 1927 to 1939. (His photo is amongst the memorabilia displayed at the Applebee's Restaurant on Route 46.) Naturally, Gloor was a Junior Firefighter, and in 1947 he was on the committee that recommended the purchase of the Mack. He became an active member of the Lincoln Fire Company around the same time the Mack was finally delivered in 1950. They served together until 1967, when the Mack was transferred to the Fire Rescue Unit. It even spent a few years behind the sewage treatment plant, forgotten. Later Gloor bought it back from the town with the hope of one day restoring it.

After twelve years in storage, the Mack model 75 spent the winter at Valtek, "The" Truckbody Shop in Paterson, NJ, being refurbished. It still had the original paint on many surfaces, but Valtek tore it down, painstakingly ground off the accumulated rust, carefully repaired the miscellaneous dings and dents of age, and reassembled the unit. After applying Axalta's Primer Sealer and red Imron with a clear coat, it was baked thoroughly in Valtek's truck-sized paint booth. "The traditional red finish is lovely to see and with the clear coat protection, it's durable and easily maintained," commented Brian Vesley, President of Valtek. The Totowa 100th Anniversary parade marked the Mack's debut in its beautiful new paint job with gold leaf ornamentation by Ed May.

Gloor remembers when Firefighters first began wearing uniforms in the fifties. He says they haven't changed much since then. When he first served in the fire department, the population of Totowa was around 4,000; it's nearly 12,000 now. Totowa was a farming community; now it has a heavy industrial base, so chemicals and combustibles are common. Because of the advent of heavily traveled Route 80, the fire department now responds to more car fires than house fires.

When asked if he remembers any particular fires fought in the Mack, he instantly responds, "June 25th, 1956: The 2 Guys department store fire." He laughs shyly and continues, "I can remember the date so well because it was also my first date with my wife, Bernice."

At the time, the Fire Chief worked out of town, and Gloor, the Assistant Fire Chief was usually at his plumbing supply store in Totowa, so he often acted as Chief. On that day, a fellow he knew from town came running in to the plumbing supply to report that the 2 Guys store was on fire. No alarm had come in but when Gloor went out in the street, he saw lots of black smoke. He ran across the way to the fire station to turn in the alarm, wondering why it hadn't already been turned in.

The people in 2 Guys had called the operator, but they were on the Little Falls phone exchange, so the 1st alarm went there. Soon both Little Falls and Totowa were on the scene. Gloor quickly agreed with the Little Falls Chief that each company would handle an opposite end of the building. That settled, he raced to Totowa's end of the building, but the fire had beat him there. The entire building, which had false ceiling construction, went up in flames. At the end, it was nothing but twisted beams and girders. Home Depot and Bradlee's are located on that spot now.

The fire started at 1:00 pm; fortunately, the out-of-town chief arrived around 5:00 pm and took over from a relieved Gloor. He just made his 7 o'clock date with Bernice, and they have been together ever since.

Some years later, when the Terre Seed fire broke out, the Mack was positioned on a level spot in the frozen dirt driveway around 1 am. As the fire progressed, the ground warmed and the Mack, which has no stabilizers, began to sink into the quickly thawing mire on the side closest to the fire. Despite being on a 45Á angle and ready to tip over, the pumper gamely kept pumping for six or seven hours.

Frank has enjoyed the process of refurbishing the Mack, visiting it weekly at Valtek to videotape the work as it progressed. What will he do with it when it's done? "Parades, mostly...and thrill the grandchildren." For those who weren't at the 100th Anniversary of Totowa, the 1950 Mack Triple Combo unit will be appearing again as part of Valtek's display at the NJ State Firemen's Association in Wildwood September 18th and 19th.

1st Responder Newspaper,Sept. 1998. Reprinted by permission.