Several members of the Williams Volunteer Fire Department recently re-acquired the first fire truck ever owned in Williams, a 1922 Waterous-Ford Motor Fire Engine.
A few weeks ago, firemen Kevin Schulte, Daniel Sutton, and Cameron Maebe and Fire Chief Chase Pearson traveled to Cortez, Colorado to pick up the fire truck that had been stored for 86-years.
According to the Fire Department, the 1922 Waterous was retired in 1929. A man from Glendale, Arizona was interested in purchasing the fire truck when local resident Ivan Smith stepped in to stop the purchase.
“They’re not going to get that thing,” former Williams resident Norman Smith remembers hearing his father say.
Norman lived in Williams in the 1920s and remembers his father, Ivan Smith, saying the fire truck needed to stay in Williams. Ivan owned a drugstore and Grand Canyon Hotel in 1929.
The fire truck was stored at Ivan’s home on First Street in Williams for more than 50 years. The family occasionally brought it to parades or drove it around town.
“We used to drive it down the street,” Smith said. “But now when we tried to go up the hills we would have to back up because the reverse was stronger. It couldn’t go up hills very fast.”
The fire truck eventually stopped running, but the Smith family continued to store it. Norman’s brother Robert moved into his parent’s home after they passed away and kept it for another 20 years. When Robert retired, Norman moved the fire truck to Cortez where it was stored in his barn.
Pearson said the fire department kept in touch with the Smith family over the years and always hoped to reacquire the truck. He said the department had been in contact with Norman off and on over the years when things finally fell into place.
“My mom was talking to Norman Smith and he said ‘Tell Chase he can have that truck and do what he wants with it,'” Pearson said.
Pearson organized a group of firefighters to travel to Cortez to retrieve the fire truck. He said the city of Williams offered to pay for the fuel, Larry Pittenger donated a trailer and Sutton lent his truck.
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