BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) -(4/6/19) A fire truck that has called two states home could soon move into its final address — inside a memorial for first responders.
Louisiana Fire Marshal Butch Browning is working to fund a permanent home for the “Spirit of Louisiana” truck. A Louisiana manufacturer built the vehicle as a gift to the New York City Fire Department, after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The department lost 343 firefighters that day, as well as dozens of vehicles.
“There are many ways that we can heal souls,” Browning said. “This truck healed so many souls.”
The “Spirit of Louisiana,” made by Ferrara Fire Apparatus in Livingston Parish, arrived at a Brooklyn station house a week before Christmas 2001. It was the FDNY’s first arrival to meet department code after the attack.
“It’s the spirit of not only firefighters in Louisiana, but the Louisiana people,” Browning said. “We’re giving people.”
New York’s first responders returned the favor after August 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. The FDNY sent the truck — plus 350 firefighters — to aid recovery efforts in New Orleans.
“That was really when this whole spirit of giving came back 100 times over,” Browning said.
The “Spirit” stayed in New Orleans until it was decommissioned in 2010. The New Orleans Fire Department transferred it to Browning’s office for preservation.
The vehicle took one last 1,300-mile mission in 2012, after Hurricane Sandy hit New York. It spent a few weeks on Long Island, helping the Long Beach Fire Department before returning to Louisiana.
The fire marshal’s office has most recently shown the truck at parades and educational tours. Browning says its days of interstate journeys are over.
“Its time has passed, and it can’t be on the road anymore,” he said. “It’s been battered. It’s been tested. Now it’s time to give it an honorable home.”
Browning wants to place the aging truck inside a replica of an FDNY station house. The building would sit beside an already-made Fallen Firefighters Memorial, and it would include 9/11 artifacts.
“It memorializes what first responders do everyday,” Browning said. “They put themselves out there first, and their only concern is to save people and property.”
Browning hopes to raise $400,000 through a GoFundMe campaign, so the truck can move into its permanent home by the end of the year.