Wyoming LAST and Casper College collaborate on procession fire engine
Shown above, is the fire engine shortly after it was pulled into the Casper College Diesel Technology Program’s shop. (Casper College photo)
The Wyoming Local Assistance State Team and the Casper College diesel, welding, machine tool, and auto body programs showed off the progress of a months-long collaboration to restore the diesel engine of a 1970s vintage fire engine to be used for funeral processions for fallen first responders.
Former Wyoming State Fire Marshal Mark Young and the Wyoming LAST organization began looking for a fire truck five years ago that could be customized to carry a casket on the hose bed. A fire engine manufactured by American LaFrance in 1970 was found outside Cheyenne, Wyoming, that would work perfectly. However, the old truck needed extensive engine and bodywork. The new Wyoming State Fire Marshall and Director of the Department of Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety, Byron Mathews, donated the fire engine. Affordable Towing & Recovery towed the fire engine from the Mathews home to Knife River, and Knife River provided transportation from Cheyenne to Casper.
“Mark Young initially approached Mike Johnson, diesel power technology instructor, and me about getting the truck driving again,” recalled Steven Bartolic, diesel power technology instructor. While the three were visiting, Young said that the entire vision for the project included fabrication and body restoration elements. “I then mentioned that it could be a fantastic opportunity for the welding, auto body repair technology, and potentially the machine tool technology programs to get more hands-on experience and help such a great cause,” Bartolic noted.
According to Rachel Chadderdon, dean for the school of business and industry, college officials didn’t hesitate to take on the challenge. The partnership, she said, has allowed Casper College students to work on a rare piece of equipment and restore it from the ground up. “It is important that our students have real-world learning opportunities, and the restoration of this fire engine has provided four of our departments with that very thing,” she said. “We at Wyoming LAST are super energized about this project. We are grateful for Casper College’s partnership,” added Young.
“During the project’s first phase, we completely rebuilt the Detroit Diesel engine. Students have completed that work and will deliver the truck to the welding department for the next phase,” said Steven Bartolic, diesel power technology instructor.
The completion date for the fire engine project is anticipated to be in a little over a year. In total, the diesel, welding, machine tool and auto body departments will be involved. Of particular interest, the welding department is designing and creating an electrical hoist mechanism that will allow the casket of the fallen to be easily lifted into the back of the fire engine.
“One of the ways that we want to support the families and departments of those first responders who have died in the line of duty is by providing a funeral caisson in the form of a fire truck. (Once the truck is restored) we can load a casket with the body of a fallen firefighter and first responder into the hose bed to be a part of the funeral service and to provide reverent and honorable services for the fallen,” Young said. He noted that members of Wyoming LAST are raising a minimum of $25K for parts and supplies to restore the fire engine.
To hear more from Young about this project, click here.
Wyoming LAST is a voluntary program administered by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. According to the group, the primary objective of the Wyoming LAST team is to provide assistance and comfort to the family and department after a firefighter’s line-of-duty death. Since the inception of Wyoming LAST in 2010, the original mission has expanded from firefighter line-of-duty death support to include supporting firefighter, law enforcement, and EMT active member line-of-duty deaths and non-line-of-duty deaths. Assistance and comfort also involve supporting and planning the funeral and memorial services of retired Wyoming public safety officers.
The Wyoming LAST team currently consists of 49 members across Wyoming. They come from all fire service areas and include subject matter experts in everything from honor guards to bagpipes and drums, chaplains, funeral planners, and mental health specialists. Those wishing to donate should send their donation to Wyoming LAST, in care of Gene Diedtrich, 3343 Latigo St., Newcastle, WY, 82701
Casper College is one of the region’s largest and most comprehensive community colleges. Students from Wyoming, the United States and beyond attend Casper College. CC students transfer or join the workforce having received a quality education. The college has more than 130 academic transfer and technical and career programs.
Casper College is a public, comprehensive two-year institution with a primary focus on student success that provides learning opportunities to enrich the lives of our students and community. Located in Casper, Wyoming, the campus consists of 28 buildings on more than 200 acres. The grounds are distinctive, with terraces that surround the modern buildings. Casper provides students with a big-city feel without the big-city hassles.
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