200th anniversary celebration of the Canandaigua Fire Department will include a muster of antique fire apparatuses at Kershaw Park.
CANANDAIGUA — It all started with a toy firetruck that was placed in Jim Kurycki’s hands before he had even learned how to walk.
As he grew, so did his passion for anything related to firefighting.
Through the years, however, the hobby — which he’d say is more appropriately called an addiction at this point — has developed beyond children’s toys and now involves a collection of the real thing. Aside from being involved with volunteer firefighting for more than four decades, the Churchville resident has collected 14 antique fire trucks of his own.
Some are parts and pieces in boxes and bags, but some are ready to roll, said Kurycki, whose sons share his interest.
“When we saw old fire trucks come up for auction, it was usually us bidding against the scrap dealers,” said Kurycki, president of the Genesee Valley chapter of the Society for the Preservation and the Appreciation of Antique Motor Fire Apparatus in America, or simply SPAAMFAA. “Sometimes we win, sometime we lose, but you hate to see the trucks go to scrap because they’re so unique. They’re a part of history.”
In honor of the Canandaigua Fire Department’s 200th anniversary, Kurycki’s passion, which mirrors that of several others from across Ontario County, will be on display this weekend in Canandaigua.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, at the east end of Kershaw Park, members of the community will have the unique opportunity to see a variety of antique firefighting equipment, from horse-drawn hand pumpers to early motorized vehicles. The muster of antique firefighting equipment that will be on display are from area fire departments and private collectors, such as Kurycki and Bloomfield resident Pat Thorpe.
“We cover the evolution of firefighting,” said Thorpe, who volunteers with the East Bloomfield Fire Department, and will have some of his collection on display this weekend.
Thorpe and his father consider themselves car guys since they own a vehicle from every decade from the 1920s through today, he said. They also have three antique fire trucks.
“I always liked the character of the old fire trucks,” Thorpe said. “As it turned out, when we first started looking for a fire truck, it was hard to find something that was small enough to fit in a garage, cheap enough where you could afford it and good enough so it could still be saved. Now, two barns later …”
Thorpe pointed out that the second barn built to house the antique equipment was constructed last year. He added that he doesn’t anticipate any more barn construction on the horizon.
“Maybe a divorce though,” Kurycki quipped as they both chuckled about their unique and largely expensive hobby.
Thorpe’s 1942 Ford American Lafrance Pumper and a 1949 Ford American Lafrance ladder truck will be on display Saturday. Both trucks served in Canandaigua, according to Thorpe, with the ladder truck being officially retired only eight years ago.
Much of the apparatuses will be in operation during Saturday’s event, including equipment that will be drafting water out of the lake, as was done in the days before fire hydrants. The event will also offer children's activities including the development of a bucket brigade and the running of hose lines.
In addition to the unique antiques that will be on display, the Ontario County Rope Team, which consists of members of the volunteer fire departments from all over the county, will be carrying out training exercises using the steel frame of the Lakeshore Drive development project located nearby.
If you go
WHAT Canandaigua firefighters' muster of antique apparatuses
WHEN 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
WHERE East end of Kershaw Park, Lakeshore Drive, Canandaigua
FEATURED Firefighting equipment from hand pumpers through early motorized vehicles, and everything in between.
INFO Free to attend