AUGUSTA — The city’s first firetruck is coming home to Augusta.

The truck, a 1917 White-Kress, was bought new by the city in 1917 and was the first motorized firefighting apparatus in Augusta. Previously, the city relied on horses to get firefighters and their gear to fires.

The truck is owned by Tom Maclay and is in Marshfield, Vt.

Augusta Fire Chief Roger Audette said Maclay wants to donate the truck to the city so it can be returned to Augusta. City councilors voted to accept the donation Thursday night.

When and why the truck left the city’s possession is unclear, Audette said. But he didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to get it back.

“I look at this truck as a piece of history,” Audette said. “It’s something we lost. And we have the potential, now, to get it back.”

Audette said his long-term desire is to restore the truck, using privately raised money, and perhaps put it on display at the city’s historic Hartford Fire Station at Water and Green streets.

He said if it were on display at Hartford, people could come see it and it could give visitors something else to do while visiting earby downtown.

For now, however, the city would likely store the truck in heated space at the Hospital Street fire station.

Maclay could not be reached for comment Friday.

Audette said Maclay wants to return the truck to the city, where it belongs.

Only one city councilor voted against accepting the donation of the truck, At-Large Councilor Jeffrey Bilodeau. Bilodeau said he didn’t have enough information about the potential cost to the city. He expressed concern about potentially spending money on the truck when money is so tight the city has had to cut a police officer’s position and close Bicentennial Nature Park.

“I have concerns that I don’t have a specific budget that would be committed to this truck, especially with other entities not being funded by the budget, like Bicentennial Park,” Bilodeau said.

However Audette and City Manager William Bridgeo said the truck should not require a substantial amount of city funding.

Audette said the city’s only likely cost would be insuring the truck, which would not cost a lot because they don’t plan on putting the truck on the road.

“My expectation is in accepting this truck, which I think has some unique value to the city, the city would not incur anything other than minor, incidental expenditures,” Bridgeo said. “Its value is as the first motorized fire apparatus the city ever owned. The chief’s desire is to get this truck now, while there is a willing owner. It will create some obligation on the part of the city to be a proper custodian, not just give it away. But the expense should be so incremental I can’t calculate it, it’s such a minimal amount.”

The truck would come with a requirement that if the city decides to get rid of it, the truck must first be offered to Maclay, his wife, Shirley, or their descendants.

Audette hopes money can be raised privately to restore and preserve the rig. He said other communities have raised money privately to restore firetrucks through firemen’s associations. But, he said, Augusta does not have such an association. He expressed confidence people, such as firefighting and history buffs, would come forward to help raise money to restore the truck with a goal, one day, of having it on public display, either at Hartford fire station or at special events in the city.

“I’m not looking for the city of Augusta to give any money to restore it,” said Audette, who noted he understands Bilodeau’s concerns. “Around the country, a lot of communities have fire equipment on display, and it’s mostly funded through associations or other groups. They raise the money and display it. It’s part of their heritage, something they are proud of.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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