Moorestown’s Relief Engine Company will celebrate the 100th birthday of its oldest fire apparatus at town hall on Sept. 24.
“It has been our pride and joy for many years,” said Pete Clifford, president of the company.
The firefighters’ 1922 Ahrens Fox Model RK-4 – known as Bertha – was in service from 1922 until 1965 and could pump 600 gallons of water per minute. Its first partial restoration by members took place from 1973 to 1975, and its second restoration effort included wheels, tires and a radiator dome.
Bertha is currently housed and maintained at the company firehouse. Clifford described how it had been cared for all these years.
“We’ve traveled up and down the East Coast (to) different events, or what we call musters, so we try to keep it (Bertha) in (the) pristine condition that she is,” he said. “Some of the fundraising events we have are dedicated directly to (her) upkeep.”
“It’s not easy to come across parts,” Clifford added. “We can’t go out and find them quickly, (so) we have to keep things going.”
Bertha may be celebrating her centennial, but she still frequents Main Street.
“We take her out periodically,” Clifford noted. “It’s not something we do every day, but we have to keep the parts moving, so we take it out once or twice a month depending on the weather.”
“ … There’s still an amazement when people see it …” he added. “One of the things I wanted to do was celebrate it because not many fire companies have one of their original trucks.”
Bertha’s celebration will feature food trucks, a beer garden, live music, antique fire trucks and a car show.
“Last year, we started the idea of having the birthday party for her,” Clifford said, “and it’s just going to be a fun event. It’s not a fundraiser; it is really just for the townspeople to come out and see some fire trucks, some antique fire trucks (and) some classic cars.”
Clifford is proud of Bertha’s long history with the Relief Engine Company.
“It’s our heritage and the fire service is steeped in honor and tradition and heritage,” he said. “And the past is really who we are, and it’s part of the early firefighting here in Moorestown.”
“ … Bertha is part of the fabric of the town and is part of who we are and saving lives. That’s what we do.”
The centennial event will start at noon. For more information, visit the Relief Engine Company’s Facebook page or https://www.ticketsignup.io/TicketEvent/Fox100Anniversary.