RICKREALL — Falls City Fire Department Engine No. 123 arrived for duty a little after 2:30 p.m. Thursday at the Polk County Museum.
No, the museum was not on fire, but the 1963 Western States Engine still used its lights and siren upon arrival — to show its new owners that they still worked.
They do, and the high-pitched whine of the old-fashioned siren was so loud it could still clear traffic.
Members of the Falls City Fire Department delivered the well-used truck to the Polk County Historical Society for the group to display at special events and to drive in parades. With new equipment at the station — and more on the way — the solid red engine that was used as recently as last summer no longer had a place on the active roster.
Instead of selling it to the highest bidder and an unknown fate, city leaders decided to donate it to the museum.
“It’s an honorable retirement,” said Falls City Mayor Jeremy Gordon, as the city and museum completed the hand off.
Firefighter John Creekmore said the department recently responded to in-town incidents in Engine No. 123, but he said its best stories are those that involved wild-land fires.
“She is an amazing four-wheel drive rig,” he said.
He said one of the old-time members of the department said Engine No. 123 was one of the first on scene at a fire decades ago near Mercer Reservoir outside of Dallas.
“This was the first engine on scene because she could make it,” Creekmore said. “She crawled in over all the logs and everything.”
Mac Corthell, the Falls City city manager, said removing the engine from the fleet was met with mixed emotions from department volunteers who used Engine No. 123.
“They’re sad, but very happy to see it go to a someone who will put it to good use,” he said.
Want to see Engine No. 123?
Polk County Museum’s newest exhibit will be on display Saturday at Family Day from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the museum, 560 S. Pacific Highway (99W), Rickreall.