The Co.Clare native and trucking industry consultant just happened to have a MACK fire truck on hand when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast.
Well, Meehan has something a love affair with the famous trucks, so much so that he buys and sells them on what is a surprisingly active global market through his website.
“I love listening to Don Imus on the radio and had offered him the truck for his ranch for sick children. But he already had one,” Meehan, who lives in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, told the Irish Echo.
And then came Katrina.
“I figured that New Orleans would be getting everything it needed over time, but I wasn’t so hopeful for the small communities along the coast in Mississippi,” said Meehan.
He got onto some fire department friends in Elizabeth, NJ who had themselves worked alongside some Mississippi firefighters in New York City after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
And so began a marathon effort to contact the volunteer fire department in Bay St. Louis, a community on the state’s Gulf coast that was devastated by Katrina.
“It took me ten days with faxes and on the internet to set this up. It was so bad down there that one half of the town didn’t know what was going on in the other half.”
Eventually, the offer of a fire truck got through to the right people. The truck was needed, and the offer greatly appreciated.
Meehan’s truck dates to 1975, but as is usually the case with fire trucks, it has been tenderly cared for down the years.
“I bought it in the small town of Hutchinson near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It’s completely functional and operative and only has 25,000 miles on it,” said Meehan.
The Hutchinson Fire Department generously left about $10,000 worth of equipment on the engine, he said.
Meehan reckons that the truck will serve the Bay St. Louis fire department for ten to fifteen years if need be.
Meehan paid a transporter to ship the Mack engine to the Gulf coast. When told of the purpose of the move, the transporting company agreed to a half price delivery.
Meehan said he plans to retire from the trucking business and build up his antique truck Internet sales site, www.oldmacks.com.
“In the meantime I’ll call Imus and tell him what happened to the fire truck he nearly had,” said Meehan with a laugh.
Meehan is expecting to hear from the Bay St. Louis city council in a few days as to how the truck is being put to use.
But he’s not going to leave the truck’s fate entirely in the hands of its new owners.
“I’ll stay in touch with them. If they need spare parts in the future I’m their man,” he said.