Historic fire truck, “Spirit of Oklahoma,” returns home to be restored, honor 9/11 first responders

CALERA, Okla. (KOKI — A small town fire department in Oklahoma is working to restore a memorial fire truck to honor first responders who passed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks

Calera Fire Department Lieutenant Jake Trujillo and Chief Brian Norton are restoring the fire truck and adding 10 special names on the side.

The names are of seven New York firefighters and three New York police officers who gave the ultimate sacrifice that day. The 10 names all together were members of the then, brand new Urban Search and Rescue Team in New York. The rescue team’s first response was in 1995 to the Oklahoma City bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

After the New York City Fire Department lost two rescue trucks in the 2001 attack, former Oklahoma City fire chief John Hansen, decided to raise thousands of dollars to build a new rescue truck for the department.

Hansen, who was the chief in 1995, partnered with the state superintendent at the time and put a campaign together called the “Spirt of Oklahoma Challenge.” Students pulled through on the challenge at the time, raising 80 percent of the funds for a new truck. By May of 2002, the “Spirit of Oklahoma” was in service at the New York City Fire Department.

Fast forward and the the truck had met the mandatory retirement age and ended its service for the streets of NYC. The truck was then auctioned off to a couple different private owners.

Then on June 3rd of this year, Lt. Trujillo saw it was being advertised and decided contacted the owner.

“And said hey, we want to put a fundraiser together. This truck was originally built on fundraising money and we think we can build a fundraiser again to bring it back home,” said Trujillo.

The owner gave Trujillo 14 days to raise $15,000. Thanks to social media and a GoFundMe page, $10,000 was quickly raised. It wasn’t until the last day that an anonymous donor made a $15,000 donation.

By July, the “Spirit of Oklahoma” was headed home to Oklahoma to be restored.

The fire truck is now back in Calera undergoing restoration, where it will continue to be until it is finished.

Once it’s finished, it will head to Tulsa to be displayed at the Tulsa Fire Museum.

Tulsa firefighter and museum vice president, Mike Burgess, says they are elated to display the truck once they get it and the museum opens. “I would say it’s the centerpiece of what we have given it’s history and relationship in Oklahoma,” he added.

The Tulsa Fire Museum is working on expanding the building where the truck will eventually sit inside a glass structure.

Tim Brown, former New York City firefighter who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks says, “it’s a physical testament of the bond between the New York City Fire Department and the people of Oklahoma. It’s a bond of tragedy but it’s a bond of love and friendship also.” He adds, “and that’s what this is all about. It’s talks about, we will never be broken…you can’t break us…”