Summit Fire displays antique 1942 fire engine at admin building
FRISCO — An old piece of the county’s history is now on display at the new Summit Fire and EMS administration building.
On Monday morning, a group of Summit Fire officials moved a classic, antique Sterling fire engine from the district’s fire station in Keystone to the new administration building at the County Commons in Frisco. The engine, built in 1942, was driven down U.S. Highway 6 and across the Dillon Dam Road — maxing out at about 35 mph — and into the lobby of the administration building, where it will be preserved.
“We’re putting it in the new admin building along with some memorabilia to commemorate our past and all our consolidations,” Summit Fire Chief Jeff Berino said. “We’ve got some antique fire equipment we’ll put on it, and slowly but surely we’ll get it looking good. But we’ve got to capture our history. Summit Fire is comprised of six former districts. And we’re glad the one Dillon engine is still here.”
According to Jim Cox, a Summit Fire board member who hopped behind the wheel for Monday’s drive, the Bureau of Land Management first purchased the engine during the construction of Green Mountain Reservoir in 1942. The engine was later turned over to the Dillon Volunteer Fire Department, which operated it out of a station where Dillon Town Hall is today.
The engine was in operation into the 1980s, though firefighters who were around to use it said it wasn’t always the most reliable.
“I remember we took this thing to the Buffalo Ridge Fire,” Berino said, referring to a blaze near Silverthorne in May 1980. “We had to push it part of the way to the fire. I’ll never forget it. It was the first fire I went on with it.”
“They’ve got some tales to tell about this thing,” Cox added. “It’s been late for fires. It had to get towed up the hill to Dillon one time to get to a fire. It’s an interesting vehicle. … It’s a fun, old truck to drive.”
The engine was retired in the ’80s and was inherited by the Summit Historical Society, which brought it back to running condition. Since then, it’s been serving primarily as a parade vehicle for things like Fourth of July. Earlier this year, the Historical Society decided to sell the engine to Summit Fire for $1.
Summit Fire continued restoration work on the vehicle, hoping to return the engine as close to its original condition as possible.
“We wanted to leave it a little more natural,” said Summit Fire Lt. Doug Beeler, who led the restoration efforts. “We took the ladder and had to strip it down and repaint it. We put an oak floor in the cab. … We found some pictures from when it was with the Dillon Volunteer Fire Department, and we tried to take it back to as original as we could.”
The engine will now serve as a reminder of days long gone for firefighters and others making their way in and out of the administration building, and officials are thrilled to be able to hang on to a piece of the county’s past.
“We’re just happy to capture a piece of the history and to keep it here in Summit County,” Berino said.
“It’s always been in this county,” Cox said. “It’s a good home for it. You’d hate to see it leave the county and rust away somewhere.”
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