Safe at home: CFD to restore original 1960 Carmel firetruck discovered in Kentucky salvage yard

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By Heather Collins

A 1960 firetruck that battled blazes for decades in the Midwest is preparing to return to its original station in Carmel. Retired Carmel Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Gary Dufek led the effort to bring the truck home and preserve a piece of Carmel history.

Dufek started looking into the whereabouts of the 1960 Ford C850 fire truck after learning that retired CFD Assistant Chief Jim Martin of the Carmel Fire Buffs and Fire Dept. Museum wanted to have a true Carmel firetruck on-site.

“It inspired me to start looking,” Dufek said.

Dufek joined CFD in 1974 and served on the truck with Martin. At the time, CFD was very small, Dufek said, with only two stations. CFD purchased the truck brand new in 1960, and it serviced Carmel until 1981 when it was sold to the Fishers Fire Dept.

In 1993, through an agreement with the Indiana fire marshal’s office and the state of Kentucky, the truck was gifted to the Kinniconick Volunteer Fire Dept. in Vanceburg, Ky. The truck was in service there until 2001.

Dufek wasn’t sure of the whereabouts of the truck when its service discontinued, but he reached out to Chief Matt Ross of the Kinniconick Fire Dept. in May. Ross sent Dufek images of a truck that had been sitting in a salvage yard in Morehead, Ky.

Dufek said he was 90 percent sure it was the original CFD firetruck from the photographs. On June 24, Dufek drove to Kentucky to meet Ross and find out whether it was the original CFD truck.

“Within two minutes, I opened the driver’s door, and the driver’s door still had a City of Carmel inventory tag, so I knew it was our truck,” Dufek said.

Next, Dufek launched a funding campaign and soon received $10,000 from the Clay Township trustee.

On Aug. 15, Dufek, along with Rick Martin, the son of Jim Martin and CFD mechanic, and logistic chief Scott Osbourn and mechanic technician Jason Force traveled 370 miles to Kentucky and brought the firetruck back to Carmel on a flat bed.

“It was kind of neat when we delivered the truck and we pushed it back into the bay,” Dufek said.

Dufek’s goal is to have the truck serve as an educational display that explores CFD history and tradition at the Carmel Fire Buffs and Fire Dept. Museum, 210 1st Ave SW.

“My vision is to see a full restoration,” Dufek said.

CFD firefighter and spokesman Tim Griffin said preserving the history of CFD is important.

“If it wasn’t for those firefighters, the firefighters on that truck, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Griffin said.

Dufek estimates a full restoration will take more than two years and cost roughly $150,000. The group has begun working on the project and recently found a donor truck from Mexia, Texas, to replace the deteriorating cab. The City of Carmel has added a line item in next year’s budget with $25,000 for the project. CFD also will conduct fundraisers to help raise funds.

The group is accepting donations for the restoration at the Carmel Fire Buffs and Fire Dept. Museum. Donations can be sent to 2 Civic Square, Carmel IN 46032 and made out to Carmel Fire Buffs/Engine Restoration.

After restoration, Dufek said the firetruck can rest in the same position at the same station where it first began its service.

A long journey

  • 1960: The 1960 Ford C850 firetruck is manufactured by Howe Fire Apparatus in Anderson and purchased by CFD
  • 1981: The truck is sold to the Fishers Fire Dept.
  • May 1993: Through an agreement with the Indiana State Fire Marshall’s Office and the state of Kentucky, the fire truck is donated to the Kinniconick Fire Dept., a volunteer fire department in Vanceburg, Ky.
  • 2001: The fire truck discontinues service.
  • March 2017: CFD retired chief Gary Dufek begins his search for the fire truck.
  • May 2017: Dufek connects with the Kinniconick Fire Dept. Chief Matt Ross. Ross photographs a firetruck in a salvage yard in Morehead, Ky.
  • June 24, 2017: Dufek meets Matt Ross at a Salvage Yard in Kentucky to verify whether the firetruck was the original firetruck from the Carmel Fire Dept.
  • Aug 15, 2017: Dufek and others drive down to Kentucky to pick up the firetruck, begin restoration and bring it back to its original bay in Carmel.
  • Oct. 2017: A donor truck is found in Mexia, Texas.

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