By Rick Morwick
If all goes according to plan, Engine 1 of the Carmel Fire Dept. will serve the city for the first time in nearly 40 years.
It will do so in all its former glory.
“Our goal is to have it shined up and ready to roll to carry our retirees for the 2020 CarmelFest Parade,” said Gary Dufek, a retired CFD chief who is spearheading the effort to fully restore a 1960 Ford C850 fire truck that served the department from the time it was purchased new until it was sold to the Fishers Fire Dept. in 1981.
Retired from service in 2003, the truck ended up in a Kentucky salvage yard, where Dufek and colleagues retrieved it in June 2017 for the specific purpose of restoring it as a permanent addition to the Carmel Fire Buffs and Fire Dept. Museum.
Dufek regards the project, which was initiated by retired CFD Chief Jim Martin, who runs the museum, as an educational tool and important step in honoring the CFD’s sterling tradition and service to the community. Nearly 1,000 local grade-school students tour the museum annually.
“Simply put, this truck represents the history of our city, the history of our department and the history of our firefighters,” Dufek said. “Restoring this truck enables us to highlight our department, our city and our history in a very hands-on kind of way. The significance of history is easier to process when you can actually touch it. This truck represents that for us.”
Restoration began a little more than a year ago, and Dufek estimates work is only 10 percent complete — which isn’t surprising in light of the shape it was in after languishing nearly two decades in a salvage yard.
“To be blunt, bad,” Dufek said of the truck’s pre-restoration form. “Portions of Engine 1 were in very poor condition. We were fortunate to have purchased a truck from Texas to be used for ‘donor parts.’ Luckily with the donor truck, the cab was in great condition, so we were able to substitute it for our crumbling cab.”
At the moment, Engine 1 is in Tipton for metal fabrication work. When that is complete, Carmel Fire Buff members and CFD maintenance crews will begin re-assembling the truck, which will be performed at the CFD maintenance facility.
Dufek estimates the restoration will cost between $125,000 and $150,000. Money is being raised through fundraising and awareness events organized by the restoration committee, which has a GoFundMe page at C.F.B. Engine 1 Restoration. The committee also is seeking local business and community sponsorships and partnerships with local companies.
“The restoration is a huge group effort,” Dufek said. “We are blessed by all the people involved and support we have received.”