DENVER – When Denver’s Fire Station Number 1 was built in 1909, firetrucks were still pulled by horses. One-hundred-fourteen years later, the horses are gone but the building remains as a tribute to the men and women who have dedicated their lives to keeping the city safe.
“The fire house itself is just something that’s very cherished,” says long time firefighter Steve Montoya. After 30 years in the Denver Fire Department, Steve has spent much of the past decade honoring his fellow firefighters at the Denver Firefighters Museum.
“There's an old saying, ‘Once a Marine always a Marine.’ Same with firefighters. You know, it's something you never leave.”
The show piece of the museum is a truck known as EO4. It’s the truck that carries firefighters to their final resting places. Steve was in charge of rebuilding it, tearing it all the way down and replacing the motor, transmission and more. He is also the driver during funerals for firefighters.
“Guys that are passing away at this point in time were on the job when I was hired,” Steve says. “They taught me to be a firefighter, so I'm giving back to them and their families by doing this.”
“I think it means all the world to him,” says former museum director Angela Rayne, who is now a volunteer herself. “It's the last ride. And that's one of the most important things.”
Steve, Angela and the other volunteers are at the Denver Firefighters Museum every Tuesday. They do everything that needs to be done from painting to plumbing work. Angela says having an army of dedicated volunteers is the key to keeping the museum in tip top shape.
“What you get with volunteers, unlike somebody that you hire to fill a position, is you get somebody who has a passion for the subject. And they're here because they want to be not because it's a paycheck,” she says.
- To learn more about the Denver Firefighters Museum, including volunteer opportunities, click here.
Volunteers also share their own stories with museum visitors.
“It’s lot of fun. The museum is set up mainly for children. Of course, the adults love it all too.”
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