Welcome Fire Dept. debuts new fire truck

WELCOME – During the Welcome Summer Festival Friday night, the finished product of three years of fundraising and restoration from the Welcome Fire Department was on display for the town to see.

“It was the first fire truck the city of Welcome ever owned,” said Rod Nelson of the Welcome Fire Department and the Fire Truck Committee.

The department held onto the 1929 fire truck long after its days of service calls were over, using it in things like parades until the engine gave out. But the fire department was not ready to give it up, and decided to fulfill a project that had been talked about but never taken on: restoring the antique fire truck.

“We could walk away or we could refurbish,” Nelson said. “But we always thought this would be a great tribute to the retirees of the fire department.”

The restoration process started with disassembling the truck, piece by piece.

“We cataloged and photographed every single piece,” Nelson said. “We didn’t want to take a chance of getting any pieces lost, because these are priceless antiques now … We took hundreds of pictures before it was disassembled, and then while it was disassembled. We had a narrative for each piece.”

Many firefighters and local talents donated time and services to the restoration process, such as the painting and upholstery. Then there were some speciality works.

“The gauges are all hand-painted,” Nelson said. “Rick DeBoer did the pin-striping and gold leafing that was also hand-painted.”

There was also the storage of the truck during this time.

“Cory and Tom Andersen, it occupied a part of their shop,” Nelson said. “They did a lot of work; Cory was meticulous with the wiring. Butch Rowan also made one good engine for it.”

There were also the donations, from funds to the small Dalmatian that now makes its home atop the fire truck.

“This was all done with raised or donated money,” Nelson said. “That’s something we want to stress is that there was no city or public or fire department funds that went to this. So we have a fire department that not only work for the the department, but do this work and fundraise for the project on the side.”

The toughest part of the project was finding some pieces that are no longer readily available.

“We spent a lot of time on the ‘Net looking for parts,” Nelson said. “There were times we thought we were up against the wall, but were we going to let this one thing be what stops us? For me, that was never an option.”

Now that the project is complete, it will be a living tribute to Welcome firefighters past and present.

“All the retirees from the fire department will be noted on this truck,” Nelson said. “We’re going to list the present fire department members and during parades and shows there will be a sign that lists the donors.”

The firefighters also recognize all the community people who supported the project.

“We have several pancake breakfasts,” Nelson said. “The community really stood behind us on this, so it was really a group effort for all.”