It won't be long until Eastpointe firefighters can brag about having Macomb County's flashiest fire truck.
A two-year project to restore the department's 1921 Ford Model TT will wrap up in May. The department used the truck until the 1940s, and it was the one of the first fire trucks in the county, Eastpointe Fire Chief Dan Hagen said last week.
"The main use of the truck will be to bring it back for parades," Hagen said. "Other than that, the truck will remain showcased."
Along with parades, the vehicle will be taken to auto shows and will be part of an antique fire engine club in Michigan, said Eastpointe Historical Society president Suzanne Pixley.
The society raised $5,000 to fund the restoration. The group raised the money by hosting dinners and selling T-shirts.
Pixley said the society wanted to restore the truck because it has been one of the few constants during decades of change in the city.
In 1921, when the city was known as Halfway, a group of farmers and businesspeople each pitched in $1 and bought the truck to help fight grass fires, Pixley said. The total cost of the truck: $68.
"People love this truck," Pixley said. "It is the spirit of the city and was owned before this area was even a village."
She said residents have affection for the vehicle because they remember its old look.
But to fully bring the red truck back to life, it took more than a fire bell and sirens.
A group of volunteer mechanics has worked on it since October 2003. Restorations include new paint, a buffed-out fender, a rebuilt engine and wood benches for firefighters to stand and sit on, said volunteer mechanic Dale McDermott.
"This truck is the pride and heritage of Eastpointe, and I think we all have worked hard so we can bring it back," McDermott said.
He said the hardest part of working on the truck has been replacing nuts and bolts and putting everything back together.
Currently, a private shop is painting the truck's body and frames. Volunteers have worked to rebuild the engine and transmission.
"When it is done it will be something I think everyone will be proud of," McDermott said.
When the painting is finished, the mechanics will assemble the vehicle at Jim's Place, a garage on 9 Mile Road, McDermott said.
Hagen said he is glad the historical society came to the rescue.
"The main thing is that it will be back for the parades so people can see it," he said. "I think they will like it a little bit better more than they did before."
Distributed by the Associated Press