LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) – Call it “the fire engine that could.” A reserve fire engine was put back into service when disaster struck last fall. The engine was a big help with rescue efforts during devastating flooding, and now a firefighter has put the story on paper.

As heavy rain fell in Longmont last September rescue crews were called into action. Every fire truck in the city took to the flooding streets, including old reserve Engine 8.

"Old Fire Engine 8" (credit: Jennifer Gracie)

“Old Fire Engine 8” (credit: Jennifer Gracie)

“To the point where she had water coming out of her smoke stack,” Battalion Chief Jeffrey Peterson with the Longmont Fire Department said.

It had been years since Engine 8 worked with firefighters full time, but when the disaster struck, she was there assisting in 400 rescue calls.

“She wanted to serve and it’s kind of an underlying current of what being a firefighter is about,” Peterson said.

Engine 8 would retire for good after one rough day in the flood, but her legacy lives on.

“I just thought, ‘What a great story to tell and what a great fundraiser that story could be,’ ” Peterson said.

With a couple of nonprofits in mind, Peterson put Engine 8’s story into rhyme for a children’s book. And with the help of 15-year-old Jennifer Gracie, “Old Fire Engine 8” came to life.

“Designing the truck was kind of fun because I wanted to make the truck look kind of sad and beleaguered, but also be cute and relatable,” Gracie said.

Engine 8 during last September's flooding (credit: Longmont Fire Department)

Engine 8 during last September’s flooding (credit: Longmont Fire Department)

As a flood evacuee Gracie can easily relate, but believes there’s a greater lesson to be learned from the old fire engine that could.

“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.”

Just like the rescue crews she helped one last time in September.

“You want to be out there helping; that’s what we’re trained to do,” Peterson said.

“Old Fire Engine 8” isn’t published yet. Peterson hopes to have it available by Sept. 12 — one year after the floods started. Pre-order a book and learn more about the organizations that benefit from it at oldfireengine8.org.

More 2013 Flooding Stories


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