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Hosing down the competition

The restored "Little Squirt." The initials stand for "Boost Brigham Club Volunteer Fire Department." (Photo via Thomas L. Herman)

The Old Dominion Historical Fire Society of Chester, Va., is dedicated to preserving and bringing attention to antique motor fire equipment. And one of the pieces in the society’s collection has a tie to American Legion history.

According to Thomas L. Herman, an archivist/historian with the society, in the late 1950s Francis Brigham – an engineer and president of the Oren Fire Apparatus Company of Roanoke, Va. – and his brother Dave were both heavily involved with the Legion. In fact, Dave embarked on a campaign to be elected national commander. He conceived the idea of a mini fire truck to bring attention to the campaign, and brought the idea to Francis. Francis sent a three-wheeled “postal carrier” vehicle, along with his sketches, to Oren craftsmen, who created the “Little Squirt.” It was true-to-life enough to even really squirt water.

The “Little Squirt” accompanied Dave Brigham to Minneapolis/St. Paul for the 1959 American Legion National Convention, to take part in the parade prior to elections. But it flipped before it could take its place, causing significant damage.

Ultimately, Dave lost his bid for national commander. But he utilized the repaired mini truck for Legion and other local events in his hometown of Brookeville, Md. He died in 1999. It came into the Herman family in 2005. Pictures of the "Little Squirt" making appearances at historical events can be found at