BASCOM, Ohio — Former Bascom fire chief Joe Brandt wasn't around when the department's original engine pumper, known as "The General" was in use. But, he admittedly has special feelings about it.
"I was just sort of drawn to it," he said.
It has been his mission and that of others in the department to find the old General and bring it home. A couple of years ago, he found it online and now he and many people in the community are making his dream a reality.
The $40,000 they needed to buy "The General" from its current owner in Montana has been raised and sometime this spring, the 92-year-old shiny, red fire engine will be returned to Seneca County.
Brandt said he's grateful that so many people and business owners in the area donated to the cause.
"It was around the holidays that all of a sudden everyone started sending donations, and at that point we reached our goal," he said.
It was a big goal for the small, rural community just west of Tiffin on State Route 18.
The next step is for Joe and his family to fly out to Missoula, Montana to get the paperwork completed and then later the engine will be trailered back to Ohio.
"The General" was made by the General Fire Apparatus Company of Detroit and was purchased in 1928 by the Bascom volunteer department. It was used for more than 20 years, having been sold to another department in Kunkle, Ohio in 1950.
The engine then found its way a few years later to the southern California area and to a private collector; that's where Brandt found it online, browsing the vintage fire engines for sale. He knew when he found it that Bascom needed to get it back again.
The excitement about the return of "The General" was also fueled by the opening of Bascom's brand new fire station complex. The old building on the main street had been in use for over 90 years and was showing its age.
As the department grew to meet the needs of the community, they were getting cramped and running out of room. Voters approved a levy for the station and the work was completed last summer. The new station is much larger and offers room for maintenance, training, paramedic quarters as well as a new radio room and offices.
"The General," however, will not be a part of the new facility. It is intended to become a focal point at the Seneca County History Museum in Tiffin, where a new exhibit of vintage fire equipment is being developed.