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So... I Bought A Firetruck
March 24, 2013 8:25 AM   Subscribe

"When I was a little guy I was infatuated with firetrucks. That's probably not unusual. Boys like trucks. But kids usually grow out of this kind of thing. I didn't. I'm 32 and a half years old and never stopped thinking firetrucks are awesome. So I bought one."
posted by indubitable (53 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great post, thanks for this.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:32 AM on March 24, 2013


Just in case you don't read all the way to the end:
Owning a firetruck has been a long time goal and I love seeing it in my driveway. My son will grow up thinking that it's totally normal to drive a firetruck to the grocery store. Maybe someday he'll get himself a really cool Army tank and we'll drive our ridiculous vehicles together. I bet tanks get even worse gas mileage than firetrucks.
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:33 AM on March 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I had a client years ago whose EA's husband was a retired firefighter and collected fire trucks. They were in Maryland, with a lot of land, and he usually owned several at a time. I saw some pictures once - a beautiful collection, old and new.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:39 AM on March 24, 2013


My son will grow up thinking that it's totally normal to drive a firetruck to the grocery store. Maybe someday he'll get himself a really cool Army tank and we'll drive our ridiculous vehicles together.

Now there's a dad who's got his priorities straight.
posted by phunniemee at 8:40 AM on March 24, 2013


If only this were made of lego. All my dreams would have come true.
posted by Fizz at 8:42 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


He spends a lot of time setting up the mystery / obstacle of how he'll get it home to Montana from Ohio... and then he never says how he did it.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 8:43 AM on March 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


My favorite part was the first comment wherein someone said "imagine my surprised when I realized you are from Montana - I figured you must have been a Portlandian."

Indeed.
posted by kthxbi at 8:46 AM on March 24, 2013


Missoula is the Portland of Montana.
posted by The Deej at 8:50 AM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are a lot of firetruck enthusiasts out there. My cousin's husband has one - got to ride in it at their wedding, on the rear jump seat!
posted by Miko at 8:55 AM on March 24, 2013


My 8 year old son walked by while I was reading the link and spotted the pic of the firetruck sitting in the guy's driveway:
Him - "I want that!".
Me - "Why?"
Him - "Firetruck!"
posted by 445supermag at 9:06 AM on March 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


This was the first thing I thought of...(sKITHytl)
posted by stifford at 9:09 AM on March 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I hadn't really given much thought to firetrucks since I grew out of that phase I had as a kid until one day the other week. I was on the sidewalk as one slowly roared past me and I stopped and really looked at it — the shiny red paint, all the chrome, spinning lights everywhere. Who in local governments anywhere has more style than the fire department?
posted by indubitable at 9:12 AM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Finished reading this, a bit weepy, and thought

"Man I got to post this on Metafilter."

Dammit!

Also, I love the way he mentions he's 32 AND A HALF!
posted by timsteil at 9:12 AM on March 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


Hahahaha! He bought a firetruck! Favourited, have a great day!
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 9:14 AM on March 24, 2013


He spends a lot of time setting up the mystery / obstacle of how he'll get it home to Montana from Ohio... and then he never says how he did it.

Ah, he commented with the answer:

It was transported by a semi on a flatbed trailer from Ohio to Montana. I looked into all kinds of less expensive alternatives including paying someone to drive it, but I couldn't get anything reliable to pan out.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 9:17 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a big flea market along the interstate near me, and has had an old aerial truck parked out in the parking lot for years. As the son of a firefighter, it always makes me a bit sad to see it sitting out there, weathering away. I always wish some wacky collector would buy it and restore it.

It looks so sad just sitting there...
posted by Thorzdad at 9:22 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most people just join the local volunteer fire department if they want to drive around a fire truck.
posted by ssg at 9:31 AM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


A lot of people don't get to realize their dreams, big or small. It's cool that this guy was able to fulfill one of his.
posted by xingcat at 9:36 AM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Diesel trucks are all pretty similar under the hood, and any mechanic who works on trucks can work on the fire truck. As for the pump the engine power takeoff will also be a standard part, and while the pump itself will be a specialty item he can probably get info from the manufacturer on servicing it.

I would have taken a long weekend and driven the truck home on back roads, after verifying that it's legal to do so if you don't use the lights and don't put water in it. The truck transmission is probably optimized for low speeds but all the truck parts also see service on long-distance haulers which are expected to work well for hundreds of thousands of miles. Despite its age the truck's power train is practically brand new. If it did break down there are entities that do road service; in the unlikely event he would have needed them they'd still have probably cost less than shipping it on a flatbed.
posted by localroger at 9:38 AM on March 24, 2013


A lot of people don't get to realize their dreams, big or small. It's cool that this guy was able to fulfill one of his.
posted by xingcat at 12:36 PM on March 24 [+] [!]


Solution: DREAM SMALL.
posted by Fizz at 10:06 AM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Missoula is the Portland of Montana.

Considering the number of people I've known who've moved to Portland (and/or Bend) from Missoula, I'd believe it.
posted by curious nu at 10:07 AM on March 24, 2013


Back in the early 70s, my dad became chief of a small Ontario volunteer fire department. I can remember visiting the fire house and seeing that the three trucks were all pre-WWII. They had huge fenders, lots of polished brass, leather seats and some wood trim. His first order of business was replacing them with bright yellow monsters that everybody in town hated. He also changed all the town hydrants from red to bright yellow. Sometimes I think my dad just might have liked to cause shit.

The town kept the oldest truck for parades.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:13 AM on March 24, 2013


I happen to know a fire engine that's currently for sale at a very reasonable price, and if it weren't for the fact that I have no place to park it I've given serious consideration to buying it.

Because...well, it'd be awesome.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:17 AM on March 24, 2013


My 4 year old is so apeshit over fire trucks, that I have gained a lot of experience on the matter. He is so outwardly apeshit whenever he sees one, he usually can draw a crowd of firefighters to him when he's jumping up and down in front of one we discover parked somewhere. Over time, he's been invited to three different fire houses and been taken on rides on trucks. The three fire fighters that live in our neighborhood all know him by name and have brought him gifts: hats, toy badges, the stuffed animals they use to console children when they're on a call. One of them collects antique tin toy fire trucks and each Christmas and birthday Fireman John has given my boy one. We occasionally need to call the fire department up to my work (which is in our same fire department precinct) and I often get "Oh hey, you're Baby Bartfast's dad!" My experience has been, fire companies are totally cool with dads bringing their kids by to check out the engines and they will often offer a tour. The generosity and warmth they've offered my son, even if I didn't know they risk their lives daily for others, exemplifies heroism. At this point, I think it's highly unlikely my son won't grow up to be a fire fighter.

Anyway, his birthday is coming up (Fire Fighter themed, natch) but its a source of unimaginable sorrow that the Last Resort Fire Department here in Seattle no longer rents out trucks for birthday parties. This guy could easily recoup his investment driving kids around on Saturday afternoons.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:21 AM on March 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


This guy lives in my town (Missoula.) I think I'm going to find him and say, "Any time you want to fill that thing up with water and do ANYTHING! I will be there to help."

Yes, Missoula is the Portlandia of Montana.
posted by ITravelMontana at 10:29 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Considering the number of people I've known who've moved to Portland (and/or Bend) from Missoula, I'd believe it.

There is an unofficial Missoula / Portland exchange program (example: Colin Meloy), something that I support over the Williamsburg / Portland ironic pant trading system.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:29 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fizz: "Solution: DREAM SMALL."

(Or, at least, below your state's weight limit for non-commercial vehicles)
posted by schmod at 10:51 AM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Has he been cutting donuts in that truck?
posted by jfuller at 10:57 AM on March 24, 2013


I can't decide if this story reinforces the wisdom of my advance planning (and, typically, eventual cancellation for practical reasons) of dream-type stuff, or if it means I should stop doing so much advance planning.
posted by davejay at 11:01 AM on March 24, 2013


When I was 7, my mother had a rich boyfriend. One year, for Christmas, he bought two school buses, one for me and one for my sisters. He parked them on his land and we essentially used them as forts. It was pretty neat.
posted by dobbs at 11:18 AM on March 24, 2013


I know a lot of people who own their own firetruck. They're usually not all that expensive to purchase and tend to have low mileage considering their age but they're not cheap to maintain and don't fit a lot places. Because of the winter weather here having (or renting) a barn is pretty much a must.
posted by tommasz at 11:23 AM on March 24, 2013


Thank you for this post.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:24 AM on March 24, 2013


Ah, good. He says in the comments how he got it home: on a hired flat-bed trailer.

Kind of annoying he built up that mystery but didn't put the solution in the story.

Still, that was neat.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:56 AM on March 24, 2013


He parked them on his land and we essentially used them as forts. It was pretty neat.

...and he and your mom never had so much alone time.
posted by dhartung at 12:04 PM on March 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am showing my wife this post. This guy provides a lot of cover for my more modest, impractical hobbies.
posted by LarryC at 12:07 PM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


No way, Bozeman is the Portland of Montana. It has a full size T-Rex (submarine) and is an hour from great skiing at Bridger Bowl (Timberline).
posted by Brocktoon at 12:08 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a guy up the block from me who owns a firetruck. He takes it out in the summer for parades and joyrides with the neighborhood kids. He seems to like it. I don't understand it, but he probably doesn't understand why I don't like to mow my lawn, so we're even.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:10 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


When my dad was in residency before becoming a doctor, he did a ride along with a fire company in Boston, to see what emergency medicine was like, or something. About that, many years later, he told me, "It's only when you're barrelassing the wrong way down a one-way street in one of those at 80 miles per hour that you realize that this is what you were supposed to do your whole life."
Also, my wedding was awesome, but the absolute best thing we did was have this as our catering truck.
We got to do a test drive to make sure it could make it up the driveway.
Firetrucks are awesome.
posted by qnarf at 1:04 PM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Next step: get some cinder blocks, plywood, and start taking that baby on some sweet jumps in front of the house!
posted by ShutterBun at 1:36 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know, NotMyselfRightNow, I think that I may know that guy. If it's the man I'm thinking of, he has a sweet collection. My volunteer department owns two of our old pumpers (1964) for parades and stuff. We love 'em!
posted by wintermind at 3:52 PM on March 24, 2013


Friend of a friend has one and pimps it out on weekends to entertain at little kids' birthday parties. He's got a nice little racket going.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:40 PM on March 24, 2013


I'm all for this guy getting his truck. But man, why is it always the little woman at home who has to be a practical downer and is all "No, you can't have fun, you have to be practical!" Hell, I'm a practical person, but I'd be all, "as long as you can pay for it and we have enough room to park it, have fun." I guess that's one of the many reasons I'm not married, I'm not enough of a buzzkill.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:44 PM on March 24, 2013


Well, given that it ended up costing more to move it than to buy it.... so, possibly somewhere near 10k. Why can't the husbands take the time to think through the family budget and make sure it works before running after their dreams? I don't know why it's a trope but it is.

Having said that, I think his obsession is both pretty silly and also awesome -- I'm glad he got to do this and share it with us. I think I would love to drive a firetruck just once based on his writing and I had never even considered it before! But, hell no would I want to park that thing on the regular.
posted by amanda at 9:04 PM on March 24, 2013


But man, why is it always the little woman at home who has to be a practical downer and is all "No, you can't have fun, you have to be practical!" Hell, I'm a practical person, but I'd be all, "as long as you can pay for it and we have enough room to park it, have fun.

Well, (and I'm not saying I necessarily agree with this thinking), the unstated cultural expectation here is that women also have these flights of fancy, but those don't involve fire-trucks, but instead would be about something more 'refined', such as ponies or poodles or doing everything up in a Parisian style (to randomly borrow a plot point from Bridesmaids, for instance).

I think it's also a very contemporary American/ British cliche; the traditional south Indian cliche, for instance, is that of a totally strict, unapproachable dad who always thinks in terms of costs and budgets, while it is the mom who always indulges the kids and has fun. (That's also why south Indian men are generally thought of as being closer to their moms, but that's a different tale)

That said, know a couple who wanted to drive away in a fire-truck after their wedding. I think they ended up renting a RouteMaster instead because a lot of their friends wanted to tag along with them. Outside of Springfield US, a lot of couples do find love in a common appreciation of goofiness.
posted by the cydonian at 9:37 PM on March 24, 2013


*clears throat*

Is this where I come out of the closet and admits to owning a fire truck? It's just a small one, mind.

It's a 1974 model, so I don't have to pay full yearly road tax (I'm in Norway), and it's got Chevy running gear, so parts are cheap and fairly readily available. See how I'm rationalizing here?

I bought it two years ago (while I was 37). Up to that point, I didn't know that my life lacked a fire truck. I spotted it in the classifieds, and when I showed it to my wife she said "It's cute. Why don't you buy it?" Reader, I bought it.

My kids, then three and seven, fully approved of the fire truck purchase.

The things is, a fire truck is a very useful vehicle. Picking up the kids in kindergarten has never been the same. I ran into my doctor outside the school once. I could see the glimmer of a diagnosis in her eyes when I confirmed that yes, it really was my truck. Having a fire truck is not for shy people, by the way. I've literally never managed to park it or fill it up without someone approaching me.

Now it's parked for the winter, but soon I'll have to go get it, and another summer of glorious firetruck driving awaits.

(Pics available on MeMail...)
posted by Harald74 at 2:13 AM on March 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


I took a ride in a private firetruck around south Minneapolis a number of years ago. We spent most of our time creeping up to intersections, blowing the horn and watching people on the sidewalk and in the outdoor cafes shoot five feet up in the air....... The rest of the was spent in perpetual waving to everybody, cause everybody waves at firetrucks. It was a blast.
posted by lstanley at 6:55 AM on March 25, 2013


Brocktoon: "Bozeman [...] is an hour from great skiing at Bridger Bowl (Timberline)."

Bridger? Why Bridger, with Big Sky so close? (Lived ~20 miles from Bozeman for most of the 80s, never once skied at Bridger...)

We live about two blocks from a fire station in South Minneapolis now. My almost-4-year-old son LOOOOVES the fire trucks. If he hears the siren, he RUNS to the window and if we can get outside in time, he will giggle like... well, like only a child or a crazy person can, really - the drivers are often nice enough to wave at him (despite the urgency of their mission!) and when the big doors are open in the summer they have always welcomed him in to take a closer look. The day he finally got brave enough to sit in the big truck? He didn't say a word the entire time we were there, just sat with a HUGE smile, but as soon as we walked away he didn't stop talking about it for like 4 blocks.

If he found out we could actually buy a truck? Man, he's been telling me for a year or so now that our car is old and needs to be replaced...
posted by caution live frogs at 8:13 AM on March 25, 2013


I may have just suggested this as my dad's retirement income: buy a cool old firetruck and rent it out at parties!

Trains have always been the giggle-inducer for me. For my 23rd birthday, I flew to Boston and then specifically took Amtrak back home to Minnesota as my birthday present to me. I worked at a bar as a dishwasher in high school and the railroad tracks went right behind the building. I *may* have taken a couple of rush breaks out the door to grin wildly as the train sped past. Maybe. I *may* sometimes force my husband into taking whatever public train transport there is in whatever city we are visiting even though he dislikes public transit. (Hi, San Diego, Boston, Chicago, Italy, New York!) Recently we got a commuter train that goes to the Twin Cities, so I make him ride that with me to Twins games. And yes, I'm in my 30s and I still grin like an idiot while on a train.

I never thought about actually OWNING a train, though. I suppose if we ever bought enough land, it would be pretty sweet to have a bit of train track and some kind of train car on it in the back yard...
posted by jillithd at 8:59 AM on March 25, 2013


Firetruck's weren't really my thing (though they are undeniably awesome) but I love freak vehicles. After a long string of difficulties acquiring this ex-Air Force step van which was eventually disposed of due to a long series of mechanical issues and parking tickets, I started planning what to get next.

After missing a biodiesel class I was checking out craigslist, hoping to do something with the few days and a rental car I still had. A friend of mine that works on projects with me had mentioned he'd always wanted an amublance, and we'd both discussed having some sort of spy van when we were younger. I ran across one in-state, checked it out, and called my partner. "Hey, would you be able to drive the rental car back? I want to buy this ambulance."

And thus, Emergence (the ambulance) was brought to light. I still have lots of work I want to do to it, but it's been running well and on a few interstate trips. I'm very pleased, and it's much more function than the last, stripped-down truck. Let's see: awesomely-constructed, elaborate electrical system, large bank of batteries, diesel, tons of great compartments, seats 7 with seatbelts, holds large volumes of lumber, etc, etc.

When I tell people I have an ambulance, there's usually a slight pause..."Like, an actual abulance?" The responses are generally "What do you use it for?" (Pretty much anything, it's my "daily driver" but I usually use public transport.) "Why did you buy an amublance?" (This is one of those questions where if you ask it, I can probably not explain it to you.) "I've thought of getting one before, is is as excellent as I imagined it would be?" (Yes.) "Does it still have all the working lights and siren?" (No, it doesn't have the front lightbar and it didn't have the siren/light controller, but I have one I'm going to install. I also plan on converting the red lights on the side to clear lenses with RGB LEDs in them.)

Probably the number one thing I want to do, which started as a joke, is make a device that allows me to play the clip from KRS-ONE that goes "woop, woop, that's the sound of the police, woop, woop that's the sound of the beast" over the actual siren. And then try to decide whether I should refrain from doing that at protests.

Anyway, freak vehicles are awesome. I highly recommend anyone considering one to get one. Do work out where you can park it and how you're getting it home, though. I ended up having to pay for off-street parking because mine is 6 inches too tall and 6 inches too wide to park on the street. And then pay for electric so I can start it in the winter (until I get my diesel-fired heater hooked up, mwahahaha). I'd like to find a way to rent it out or chaffeur people going bar-hopping in the future, but still figuring out the laws around that.
posted by nTeleKy at 11:00 AM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huge firetruck!
posted by floatboth at 11:50 AM on March 25, 2013


Bridger? Why Bridger, with Big Sky so close? (Lived ~20 miles from Bozeman for most of the 80s, never once skied at Bridger...)

Dude, you need to go to Bridger. Even if it's just for a day trip in the summer. I would take it over Big Sky and Timberline and Whistler any day of the year.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:32 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most people just join the local volunteer fire department if they want to drive around a fire truck.
This way, though, you don't have to run into burning buildings.
posted by MILNEWSca at 10:00 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Running into burning buildings is at least as exciting as driving a firetruck.
posted by maniabug at 7:24 PM on March 26, 2013


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