Baton Rouge – Much of the country does not know of the fire truck residents of Louisiana raised money for and built for the New York fire department following the events of 9/11. The truck would come to be known as “Spirit of Louisiana.”
The “Spirit of Louisiana” is a pumper truck with the capacity to pump 1,000 gallons-per-minute. It was built to meet the New York Fire Department specifications.
“I thought that it was great that Louisiana donated a fire truck to the fire department in New York. It shows the brotherhood within fire departments,” said Calvin Williams Jr. a Baton Rouge firefighter.
Ron Goldman, a local listener, called into Gov. Mike Foster’s radio program and suggested providing New York City with a new fire truck after viewing President George W. Bush on one of the New York fire trucks destroyed during 9/11. Foster rallied the residents of Louisiana to help New York City by beginning the “Buck for Trucks” program to raise $500,000 to build the new fire truck.
Ferrara Fire Apparatus of Holden, La. accepted the challenge of building the fire truck in 60-days following the statewide donation drive. According to Anton Reicher on Industrial Fire World, the owner Chris Ferrara said, “Building a complete fire engine in 60 days from the ground up to tough New York City specs was a daunting challenge. My craftsmen donated much of their time, working around the clock to build the truck.”
The LSU Fire and Emergency Training Institute sent fire-service personnel to New York to present the “Spirit of Louisiana” fire truck to New York Fire Department. The personnel traveled with the fire truck as it departed from the Highland Rd. fire station and made its way to New Orleans. A ceremony to send off the truck was held before the Saints Monday Night Football game.
The next stop for the “Spirit of Louisiana” was Washington, D.C. A ceremony was held at the White House. President Bush said the gift of a fire truck from Louisiana to New York City shows what is “unique” about America.
The New York ceremony to receive the “Spirit of Louisiana” was held in December 2001. The truck was assigned to Engine 238 in the Bronx. The truck would remain in New York City until the time would come for it to return home when needed.
Organizational communication masters student Heidi Scheuermann said donating money and building a truck for New York City was a good way of showing support for our fellow citizens, even though we were not a part of the actual events.
During August 2005, a catastrophe struck the City of New Orleans along with much of the Gulf Coast, Hurricane Katrina left the city crippled and in need of help, andt New York City was ready to return the kindness Louisiana showed them four years earlier.
The New York City Fire Department dispatched the “Spirit of Louisiana” to New Orleans to assist the New Orleans Fire Department.
“It shows how much fire departments across the U.S. care for each other. New York was helped out and returned the favor during Hurricane Katrina,” said Williams.
The “Spirit of Louisiana” remained in service in Louisiana until 2010. In May 2010, the truck was refurbished and donated to the Louisiana Fire Marshal’s Office.
Williams added that the events of 9/11 played a role in him becoming a firefighter. “With everything that was going on between the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina, it feels good to be a fireman. With the truck being built in Louisiana for New York and then being returned to Louisiana in their time of need is a blessing. It shows that no matter whether you are a fireman in La. or New York, we can come together and help each other.”
“It’s (“Spirit of Louisiana”) bigger than the truck. It’s become a symbol that shows that even though we go through different things, we’re still united,” said Scheuermann.