Unit : Car 713
Year : 1978
Model : OLDSMOBILE DELTA 88
1978 OLDSMOBILE DELTA 88
O.B.V.F.D’s FIRST FIRE CHIEF’S CAR
It is difficult to understand why a fire company which was so progressive with its apparatus purchases, did not have a fire chief’s vehicle for nearly 75 years of its existence. People involved with the purchase of the first car will tell you it was many of the ex-chief’s who were against it. Fire Chief’s always used their own vehicles, so why should the next guy get a free ride?
By 1977, the leadership and direction of the O.B.V.F.D had significantly changed. Under the direction of Chief Richard L. Pray in 1976 and his Asst. Chief James Conlon, the fire company had a younger slate of line officers including John Kirwin, Rich Borsuk, Dave Herbert, Mike Martin, and Greg Skurka, and many changes were instituted. In 1977, with an increase in the number of alarms being answered, Chief Pray began using unit 709, the department’s pick up truck to respond to fires. The Board of Trustees returned fire and put the kibosh to this.
Once again, lighting off a fire storm of controversy, the new world order took the issue to the floor of the fire company and after some heated discussions a fire chief’s car was passed! A committee was formed and a 1978 Oldsmobile Delta 88 pursuit package four door sedan, designed to the New Jersey Turnpike State Police Specifications, was ordered for the fire company from Laffin Chevrolet. It was rocket ship fast.
En route on a car carrier, a chain snapped and damaged the hood of the car. It had to be re-painted before it was accepted. The car was then taken to Alan Radio in North Brunswick and the lights and siren were transferred from Chief Jim Conlon’s personal vehicle to the Oldsmobile. It was put in service in the winter months of 1978, seventy two years after the fire company started. It was a major accomplishment.
The lettering on this vehicle was designed off the Ford Mini Pumper and was HAND PAINTED on the car by East Brunswick artist Al Zanetti on Joseph Street. Rumor has it that it was done for a minimal amount of money and a case of beer. Zanetti’s work was incredible and the detail was perfect.
Chief Pray had worked hard to unify the two distinctly different generations of the fire company he had to deal with. For two of our busiest years at the time, he never got to have a fire chief’s car, just a few short months with a ten year old manual transmission pick up truck.
Reviewing the run books from Chief Conlon’s initial membership through his years as chief, it is clearly evident he constantly turned out for as many calls as he could. He was the first fire chief to have a vehicle, and for the effort he put forth, he deserved one.
This was the only car purchased by the incorporated volunteer fire company for the company’s chief. It was taken out of service in the fall of 1989 when it was replaced with a 1989 Chevrolet Caprice police package sedan purchased by the fire district.
1978 OLDSMOBILE DELTA 88
PURSUIT PACKAGE FIRE CHIEF\'S CAR
RETIRED OCTOBER 1989