MELROSE, Minn. (FOX 9) - The Melrose Fire Department has had more than two dozen fire trucks in its 135-year history. Now, it is bringing a piece of its past into its future.
For the last 21 years, the Melrose Fire Department has been like family to Joe Finken, so he is overjoyed to see a member of that family back where it belongs.
"It's a lot of emotions,” Joe Finken explains. “The day I went to get it in Florida, I got teary-eyed because I remember playing on this truck when I was a child."
Finken, who also happens to be the mayor of Melrose, says the city bought the Ford F-6 fire truck back in 1952 for the whopping sum of $4,611.
By the '70s, Finken's father used the truck to fight fires as a member of the volunteer fire department until it was sold to an auto dealer in Marshall, Minnesota in 1993.
"I did lot of work for other fire stations and I noticed other departments had an old fire truck. Our neighboring county has an old Model T, and I thought, 'wouldn't it be great if we had something like that again.'"
So, Finken tracked down the old Melrose Pumper 509 to an orange orchard in Florida where it had been parked in an open shed for the last 26 years. After the son of the man who bought it gave it back to the department, Finken traveled to Sarasota, loaded it on a trailer and helped drive it back to Minnesota.
"When my fellow firefighter brought it off the freeway, I got teary-eyed again. I actually got choked up, and I'm not an emotional guy. It was nice to see all this come to an end and to see it’s come back home in Minnesota," he said.
Finken says the department will use the fire truck in parades and to give retired firefighters who pass away one last ride to the cemetery. In the meantime, the 30 Melrose firefighters and their families will work together to return the vintage fire truck to its former glory.
"It’s a piece of history. The last few years we've lost a lot of history in our community and it's nice to have something from the past. You can't go into your future without remembering your past."
Finken says it will cost between $15,000 and $40,000 to repaint and get the fire truck up and running. If you'd like to help, you can contact Joe Finken here.