The first motorized truck the Old Town Fire Department ever used will soon take up residence in a structure built to look like the fire station it occupied a century ago.
Old Town’s 1917 Garford fire truck, the oldest one still around in New England, will soon be housed in a replica of the old fire station thanks to a local fundraising effort and construction work by a group of University of Maine students.
After the truck returned to Old Town in 2017, the fire department began a fundraising effort to build the truck a permanent home where it could be on display. City officials, Old Town residents and local businesses chipped in to raise enough money to fund construction of a replica of the original fire station building that housed the Garford.
A student group at UMaine called the Student Construction Association that works on projects in the community drew up the plans after getting in touch with the Old Town Public Works Department about the project. Amber Killip, a construction engineering technology professor, assigned the actual construction planning to one of her classes.
Following blueprints drawn up by the student association, about 30 students spent Thursday and Friday working in groups of four to construct the walls and roof of the fire station replica.
“It’s a great service learning project,” Killip said. “Ends up being a win-win for everybody. Old Town provided the materials, and we provided the labor. The students get to learn a lot. We can’t fabricate this kind of learning in the classroom.”
The truck returned to Old Town’s possession in the 1980s, and it was restored in 1992. It stayed at the Hose 5 Fire Museum in Bangor until the Old Town Fire Department brought it back to its station in 2017.
In the next few weeks, after UMaine students finish building the building frame and roof, the city’s public works staff will finish the siding and insulation on the building. The Garford truck will be moved to its permanent home by Memorial Day, said Robert Gallant, an Old Town firefighter.
“It’ll be nice to have a piece of history back here in Old Town,” Lt. Adam Martell said.