‘Spirit of ’76’ comes home: Town’s new pumper truck to be in service soon

The “Spirit of ’76” should be in full service on or before Dec. 5.

“That’s the hope,” said Marblehead Fire Chief Jason Gilliland, standing in the bay area of the Marblehead Fire Department headquarters early last week.

No, the fire chief isn’t talking about the massive painting in Abbot Hall’s Select Board Room. Rather, he is referring to the town’s newest firefighting apparatus, a 2022 Enforcer Pumper.

Not only is fire engine named after the iconic painting, but the fire chief had “Spirit of ’76” detailed in blue on the front of the fire truck where flashing lights are. On the rear of the apparatus, one will find a replica of Archibald Willard’s ‘Spirit of ’76.’ 

Marblehead Fire Department’s newest wheels, ‘Spirit of ’76,’ can pump 1,500 gallons per minute when hooked up to a fire hydrant.

A driver made the journey from the Pierce factory in Appleton, Wisconsin to Marblehead behind the wheel of the “Spirit of ’76.”

“It was about a 1,500-mile trek,” said Gilliland. “It was a good period to break in the engine.”

When in commission, the “Spirit of ’76” will become “Engine 1.” Its predecessor will then be “Engine 2.”

According to the Pierce factory and the fire chief, Engine 1 and Engine 2 are identical models, aside from minor changes. Features include the following:

  • Enforcer aluminum cab
  • 13.38-inch galvanized frame rails and cross members
  • Pierce TAK4 independent front suspension
  • Pierce command zone multiplex system, with wireless transmission of vehicle prognostics and diagnostics
  • Stainless-steel battery boxes
  • Cummins 450-horsepower engine
  • Stainless steel 152-inch body
  • 500-gallon water tank
  • Galvanized water tank cradle
  • Low hose bed
  • Waterous single-stage 1,500-gallons-per-minute pump
  • Galvanized pump house substructure
  • Low crosslays
  • Pierce Husky 12 foam system
  • 500-gallon water tank
  • 25-gallon foam tank
  • Whelen LED emergency lights and pioneer scene lighting
  • Harrison 3.6KW with 200-foot cord reel.

Marblehead voters approved a debt-exclusion override of up to $750,000 under Article 32 on the 2021 Marblehead Town Meeting warrant to purchase the fire truck.

“The vote was reaffirmed in June of 2021, when voters overwhelmingly [passed]…a debt-exclusion override to borrow $620,000 for the new pumper truck and other related equipment,” Gilliland wrote in the 2021 Marblehead Town Report.

‘The Spirit of ’76’ painting is detailed on the back of the Marblehead Fire Department’s newest firefighting apparatus.

Before the fire truck arrived in Marblehead, Gilliland flew to the Pierce factory to inspect the fire truck. Pierce then regularly sent him photos as their autoworkers assembled the town’s pumper truck.

The fire department turns over trucks based on a replacement schedule in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association. The life expectancy of a pumper truck is 15 years.

The ‘Spirit of ’76’ is the Marblehead Fire Department’s newest firefighting apparatus.
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