A historic reunion is about to take place in the heart of Detroit. The Foundation Hotel in Downtown Detroit was the former headquarters of the Detroit Fire Department. It was built in 1929 and was occupied by the Fire Department until 2013. It reopened in May of 2017 as the Foundation Hotel and the Apparatus Room. The first ambulance for the Detroit Fire Department called that building home, it was a 1927 Packard Ambulance and it is making a historic homecoming this week.
The 1927 Packard is a very rare vehicle. Only three were ever made and currently, it is the only one still in existence according to Brent Denure, the founder of Vintage Firetruck and Equipment Magazine. This vehicle was brought back to its former glory thanks to Brantley Vitek, who found it at the Hershey Car Show for the Antique Automobile Club, a vintage automotive flea market of sorts, back in the 1970's. This is the third vehicle he has restored, and he took great care to bring back all the little details that made this ambulance special. One major thing he did was replace all the old floorboards with the original floors from the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters.
Now, this ambulance had a bit of a different job than ambulances do today. As Sheryl Fox, a Detroit Fire Department Historian and former firefighter told us, this ambulance was donated to the fire department to help firefighters. It was a hospital on wheels and a mode of transportation for firefighters who needed it out n the field. They would also use it as a food and coffee truck, giving the firefighters a meal and something to warm up if they were out fighting a fire for a long time.
You can see this historic ambulance at two upcoming events. The first is on September 11th going from 9 am until 6 pm at the Detroit Foundation Hotel, where it will be having a historic homecoming. This event will help the Detroit Fireman's Fund Association. The hotel will also host a historical exhibit of the old Fire Department Headquarters and will be offering tours. All first responders will receive 20% off food and drink in The Apparatus Room. The ambulance will then be at Fire Fest on September 21st in Chatham, Ontario in Canada.
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