Fire truck that responded to Hindenburg disaster lives among firefighter’s memorabilia

Among Tom Herman's 18 apparatus is one of two remaining trucks that responded to the 1937 aviation disaster

By FireRescue1 staff

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — A fire truck sitting in a Chesterfield barn is one of just two remaining apparatus to have been on site at the Hindenburg disaster in 1937.

The truck belongs to Tom Herman, a firefighter who collects fire service memorabilia.

In addition to apparatus, Herman’s collection includes badges, helmets, fire alarms and fire extinguishers – but the apparatus are quite special.

"In 1976, I bought our first antique fire truck," Herman told WTVR. "Right now, we are at about 18. Just think about all the responses that they made to fires, accidents, and what these trucks have seen over the years."

The Hindenburg truck is unique in that Herman didn’t know its backstory when it first arrived at his house. He knew the truck was from the Cross Acres South Carolina Fire Department but did more research to learn about the truck’s origin.

“That’s when we find out the truck was originally built for the Lakewood (New Jersey) Fire Department," he said. "[I then got] an email which almost make me fall out of my chair.”

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The email detailed that the truck had responded to the May 6, 1937, Hindenburg fire in which 30 people were killed in one of the most infamous aviation disasters in U.S. history – and Herman has all the documentation to back it up.

"It creates great historical significance for this vehicle," he added.


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