DENVER — A 25-year-old fire engine from Canada destined for Mexico is back on the road after being repaired by the emergency vehicle mechanics at the South Metro Fire Department.
Mechanic Ben Jennings, who replaced an electrical part on the fire engine, said he was surprised to get a call to fix a Canadian model fire truck.
“I didn’t know who they were or where they were from," Jennings said. “My first thought was I had never worked on one of these fire trucks before. You could tell that it had been maintained very well.”
Brad Volovich, Chris Hardeman, and Roger Poon from Edmonton, Alberta were behind the wheel of the 1994 E-1 fire engine. The unexpected stop came shortly after starting a 4,000 mile road trip to Puerto Morelos, Mexico, where they plan to donate the water truck to the small tourist town without proper fire protection services.
For months, the group raised money, located fire supplies, and brought awareness to Puerto Morelos through a GoFundMe Campaign that’s raised more than $13,000.
Retired Fire Captain Chris Hardeman said the group felt compelled to help launch a fire department after a visit to the popular spot in Mexico that’s not far from Cancun.
“Being a firefighter for 30 years and realizing that these towns have nothing. It became a bit of a passion for us to be doing this,” Hardeman said. “We have about 50 sets of bunker gear for the firefighters to wear. We got ladders, all kinds of wildland fighting gear.”
Hardeman told 9NEWS that the group left Edmonton in early January and hit a road block while driving through Windsor, Colorado. After a pit stop, the engine refused to turnover.
“We determined that it was the solenoid that was broken on it," he said.
Through a social media group, the three men were contacted by an off-duty SMFR Captain who connected them with SMFR mechanic Ben Jennings. The fire truck was able to make it to Station 39 in Castle Rock. The new part was found at a local hardware store and replaced.
Jennings said the part is simple to replace and is inexpensive.
“It’s an electrical contact that sends power to tell the engine to start," he said.
The repair took about two hours, according to SMFR, before the fire truck was ready to go. The fix would only last a day and half. Brad Volovich said a secondary issue occurred days later. A fire department in Stonewall, Texas offered to replace the starter.
Now that the fire truck is fixed, the journey is on hold. Hardeman said they are waiting for paperwork before they can enter Mexico. If they don’t get it before the end of January, they’ll have to bring the fire engine back to Canada due to U.S. regulations.
Hardeman said he has been overwhelmed by the generosity they have received from posts online and from fire departments along the way that have put them up.
“The fire service is a brotherhood, no matter where you go," Hardeman said.
Jennings, the mechanic who repaired the part, is happy to be part of their journey too.
“It’s really neat to think about this fire truck making this trek down to a town and it’s kind of cool that I’m a piece of that," Jennings said. "In the long run, the satisfaction that I have is knowing that a town in Mexico is going to have a fire truck.”
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