DOUGLAS —Douglas’ unique 1916 Seagrave fire engine can roll once more thanks to a cooperative effort of government agencies, private companies and individuals with charity in their hearts.
The fire engine, which went on runs for 50 years before retirement to public relations duty, is housed at the Douglas-Williams House Museum. The museum’s manager and the Douglas Historical Society rehabbed the museum’s carriage house interior in 2018. Soon after placement in the carriage house it became apparent that the fire engine would not be moving again because of dry rotted tires. Historical society members began fundraising efforts to put new tires on the engine’s wheels.
Douglas native Hector Cruz, an employee of USD Products Inc., a national automotive parts distributor, found the only company in the U.S. that manufactures the solid-rubber tires the Seagrave needed.
Cruz and his friend, Elias Maynez, dismounted the wheels from the Seagrave in 2019 by separating the iron tire rims from the wooden-spoked wheels by hand. Cruz packed and shipped the rims to Canton Bandage Co. in Canton, Ohio. The firm custom-built Overman Cushion tires, which were the fire engine’s original equipment. Cruz and Maynez were remounting the rims and their new tires onto the wheels when Maynez caught COVID-19 and died.
In June, Cruz completed mounting the tires. Edward Montano brought the wheels to Douglas.
Douglas Fire Dept. Chief Kevin Lomeli and other firemen helped unload the wheels on June 27. Montano and five retired Douglas firemen then put the wheels back on the engine. Mario Novoa, former Douglas Fire Chief, led the retirees. Novoa is now president of the Douglas Historical Society, which plans to continue the engine’s renovation.
“We want to get the engine in running order,” said Novoa, “so it can appear in parades and other events that will publicize Douglas in a positive way. I’m looking forward to working on the Seagrave and I think some of my former crew are too.”