As the rain fell and rivers swelled, "Old Fire Engine 8" knew she had to do something.
“She wanted to serve and it’s kind of an underlying current of what being a firefighter is about,” Battalion Chief Jeffrey Peterson with the Longmont Fire Department told sister station KCNC.
It had been years since Engine 8 worked with firefighters full time. But when Longmont was pounded by the deluge of rain that was hammering much of the state last fall, she came out of quasi-retirement to help. It was her last day on the job--she would retire for good after one rough day in the flood--but what a sendoff it was, helping so many flood victims as hundreds of calls for rescue came in.
“I just thought, ‘What a great story to tell and what a great fundraiser that story could be,’" Peterson told KCNC.
He put pen to paper and began to write the story of Old Fire Engine 8. Recruiting 15-year-old flood evacuee Jennifer Gracie for illustrations, the two immortalized Engine 8's story in a children's book.
"Sometimes in order to help other people you have to put your own safety on the line. Sometimes helping other people matters more than helping yourself,” Gracie said. “And I think that’s what Engine 8 cared most about being a fire truck. Not that she wanted notoriety or anything like that, but that she was helping people and it made her happy.”
Gracie told KCNC that she had fun matching Peterson's rhymes with pictures.
"I wanted to make the truck look kind of sad and beleaguered, but also be cute and relatable,” Gracie said.
According to KCNC, the book hasn't been published yet, but Peterson is hoping to time its publication with the year anniversary of the flood, Sept. 12. Proceeds from book purchases will benefit Colorado non-profits The Firefighter Community Compassion Fund and Orphan's Bridge. We have more information about the book in a link on the side of this page.
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