Blue Mountain Fire Department

Chief Kory Bell, left, and fellow firefighter David Jordan stands beside a rescue truck with a storied history at the Blue Mountain and District Fire Department.

(Goodwin photo)

A rescue vehicle used during the response to the 9/11 attack on the U.S. remains a valued part of the Blue Mountain and District Fire Department.

Its history has not been lost on fire chief Kory Bell that the 20th anniversary of the disaster passed last Saturday. However, he also celebrates what a key vehicle it is in the fire department’s work.

“It’s a piece of history,” he said. “Not only so many civilians died, but so many first responders died. There is so much history we don’t even know about.”

The 1998 International cube van was owned by the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company in Joppa, Md., on the outskirts of Baltimore. It served as an ambulance and was among vehicles that participated in the rescue and recovery mission after airliners piloted by armed terrorists flew into the World Trade Centre’s twin towers, which eventually crashed to the ground.

The vehicle’s chassis and cab were damaged, while the box was spared. Insurance coverage allowed the truck to be repaired with a 2002 International engine, as well as a new chassis and cab, and the original box.

The City of New York also bought the company a replacement vehicle.

“(The company) kept their vehicle for two years and then put it up for tender and we won the tender,” Bell said.

Four members of the Blue Mountain department drove down to Maryland to pick it up. Bell guessed that was more than 10 years ago.

“They drove it home in a snowstorm.” He said. “We converted it so it could hold all our bunker gear, SCBA’s (self-contained breathing apparatus). We put a baby seat in it and used it at a crash site because they couldn’t use theirs because of the accident. All our medical gear is in it because it’s our first response vehicle.”

Signs for emergency traffic control and an extrication device are also stored in the truck.

The engine was repaired six years ago, while the odometer shows 138,135 miles on the original chassis.

“We played with the idea of getting rid of the vehicle but it has worked flawlessly ever since,” Bell said. “It’s treated us well and we want to have it as long as we can.”


Steve Goodwin is never without his camera and a notebook. He has been covering news and sports in Pictou County for more than four decades.