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Annual Meeting - 2019

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I wanted to take the time to thank all of the folks who had a role in this year's annual meeting.


Although there was no Friday night event, the Auto Show tickets were great, as well as the AACA Display that was in the Auto Show.  As usual the seminars we went to were great and it was nice to see and talk to people we don't always have time to visit with when we're at a meet.


It was nice to go down and not get stuck in any banquets and it was the first time in my life I was able to go to Philly, be able enjoy myself, and didn't have to pack a shirt and tie (after 30+ years of wearing a uniform for a living, I HATE SUITS AND TIES!!).


On Labor Day, 2016 my dad and I got the cab, engine, transmission, pump and water tank back on the frame of that truck, one week later I was messed up really, really bad in a motorcycle crash that took me out of work for 6 months, I had to endure 9 months of physical therapy and two operations with a very, very uncertain future.  At the time there was a fire truck in pieces that also had a very uncertain future and had it not been for my dad, wife and several friends, that truck might not have made it back together.  My wife was out in the shop helping my dad hang fenders because at the time I couldn't even pour myself a glass of milk let alone turn a wrench.  In 2016 I made it down to Hershey for Friday and part of Saturday, but I couldn't walk, couldn't drive, and at that time I had lost my eyesight in one eye.


Ironically in 2017 while many of you were in Philly for the annual meeting, I was on the operating table.  I had been out of work a while, medically things were not good, I was on the verge of financial ruin, wasn't sure if I'd ever work again and things were looking pretty bleak for me at best.  Even if I could've medically made it to Philly, financially I couldn't.


Last year was a total zoo after watching the Eagles win the Super Bowl, but it was a once in a lifetime thing that I got to see and enjoy right out the hotel window.  Last year was also the same time my father and I were able to take the stage and accept the Peterson Fire Apparatus Award.  After showing 75 cars over the last 17 years from Florida, Vermont, Colorado and everyplace else in between, the award last year meant a lot and it is something that my dad and I still cherish and appreciate very much, one year later.  It took all the inner strength that I had to hold it all together because one year earlier I couldn't even stand, let alone walk or drive, yet a year later I was able to not only stand, but to be able to walk up to that stage to accept that award for a truck that made it back together.


Like the Eagles, last year it was about the beating the odds for us too.  The Eagles were the dark horse, the truck made it back together and turned out gorgeous, while I had not only survived a crash, but recovered from a crash that the doctors and my coworkers all said should've killed me, and recovery wasn't even foreseeable in their minds.  Things were bad enough for me that I had found out later that the accident reconstruction time was called out and usually that is only done if they thing the accident will be or is a fatal.


To the national awards committee I'd like to thank you all for helping to bring sunshine to both my dad and I after going through a lot of dark days.  I'd also like to thank the countless number of folks who approached us last year at Philly who said "congratulations, it was long overdue."


In closing I'd like to congratulate the new recipient of the Peterson Fire Apparatus Award, thank Chuck Crane for his year as National President and wish incoming President Mel Carson well.  This year's annual meeting was a great event, but it also was a case of where we were able to just be who we are, come and go as we want, and be able reflect on a good event last year instead of a bad event.



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I saw you at Philly but didn't get a chance to speak, I didn't realize what you have been through, you look great now! Take care, I love your hauler!

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Thanks Tommy.  I was tore up really bad and I was torn up for a long time.  It took every ounce of strength I had to get through it, and then on top of it was a nasty lawsuit.  The lawsuit didn't get wrapped up until this past August, but it's all water under the bridge.  Taking that stage last year to get that award allowed us to close the book and put it on the shelf to not a long story, but to a living, breathing nightmare.  During that timeframe, my entire life was devoted to fighting my way back out of this.


As for the hauler??  I was looking at a new pickup over at the Auto Show and the one I liked was $71,000, the Suburban I saw over there was $77,000 and it wasn't even a 3/4 ton.


We bought that Ladder truck and converted it into a fire truck hauler for way, way less.  The fire department had tried to sell it, no one wanted it so they called me up and offered it to me for a price I couldn't refuse.


At the time I was out of work, my dad bought the truck, I sold my Gooseneck trailer, paid my dad back, and the money I made selling parts off the truck went back to pay for the steel.  As I write this today the truck has not quite 15,000 miles on it, and you couldn't buy a brand new gooseneck to haul that fire truck, let alone the truck to pull it for what we have in that rig.  We still have the truck, we still haven't sold all the parts and we kept the 10kw generator that was on it when we got it.


In terms of travelling, she doesn't pull hills real well, but it stops better than any truck or car trailer we've ever owned, it doesn't sway and when it comes to fuel stops, it's easier to get in because we pull in where the semi's go.  Oddly enough the truck gets the same gas mileage as the Chevy pickup we used to use for pulling the trailer.  The best part of it is we have a lot of lockable storage down both sides of the truck and that back compartment goes all the way across to the other side of the truck.  It allows us to store 8' planks in there.


We won't overload it, and instead of shelling money out for a new truck I drive a 17 year old Toyota Avalon that gets better mileage than that new truck would get.


Ironically we're looking at buying another ladder truck to build another one.  This one has a tandem axle and a six man cab.  If we get it we'll turn the back section of the cab into a sleeper and the tandem axle will take more weight.  Right now we're kicking tires.  If we get it fine, if we don't, we've still got a good truck capable of getting the job done.




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