Dozens of firetrucks collected over more than three decades by a local businessman will be auctioned this week in Denbo, Pa., a sale that has attracted national and international interest.
“This will be the granddaddy of all auctions,” said Jim Derstine, president of the Pennsylvania National Fire Museum in Harrisburg. “Most of the time, when someone’s collection goes up, there’s three or four firetrucks. This is huge out there.”
The trucks, including some more than 70 years old, were purchased by Sullivan D’Amico, founder of Pechin’s Shopping Village in Fayette County. He died in February 2005 at age 87.
D’Amico bought the firetrucks and hundreds of vintage automobiles with plans to open a museum, but time ran out before he could accomplish his goal, said Ray Butchko, co-owner with his wife, Sherrie Higinbotham-Butchko, of Higinbotham-Butchko Auction Service Inc., which will conduct the sale.
“Mr. D’Amico was quick to show off his firetruck collection and loved to talk firetrucks with anyone who was interested,” said Higinbotham-Butchko. “If you were lucky, he gave you the grand tour, which was like a dream come true to anyone who, as a child like me, watched the firetrucks go by with wide-eyed wonder and excitement.”
“Some of these firetrucks will fight a fire again,” added Butchko. “Some of them can be restored for antiques while some others, unfortunately, will be cut up for scrap.”
The Larimer Volunteer Fire Department in North Huntingdon Township, Westmoreland County, hopes to purchase one of its former trucks, a 1967 Ward LaFrance pumper.
“We go to more than 50 parades a year and we think it would be great to use it instead of our squad truck that we now use,” said spokesman Ryan Rodgers.
Bids will range from several hundred dollars up to $6,000, Butchko estimated. All trucks will be sold as is.
Heavy equipment owned by the D’Amico family, including cement and box trucks, flatbeds, tanker and dump trucks, also will be auctioned.
Sealed bids on all vehicles and firetrucks will be accepted from Wednesday until March 22.
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