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|Fire truck on scene at 9/11 bought at auction|
Joshua Calkins of Parhams has always had a love of fire engines.
So when the tug boat pilot, who serves as a volunteer fire fighter in Parhams, Monterey and Jonesville, saw a 1987 fire truck that was part of the rescue scene at the World Trade Centers in 2001 for sale on e-bay, he decided he wanted to buy it.
"They were asking $5,000 for it, which I thought was really low because most of them go for about $250,000," Calkins said.
Calkins went back to the Web site later and saw that the fire truck was still on the site.
"After the auction ended, I followed up on it and found nobody bought it," he said. "I called them up and asked if they were still asking $5,000 for it. They told me yes and I jumped on it."
Calkins and his father, Charles, drove up to New Jersey and Joshua drove it back down to Louisiana.
The fire truck was involved in an accident not related to 9-11 and was damaged in the front and rear.
"They were responding to a call and were in the wrong lane of traffic when they had a head-on collision with a van truck about a year ago," Calkins said. "The truck went into some concrete barriers. It's still a good truck and it's still in good shape. I hate to see it go to waste. It's a strong truck. It has a 475 horsepower. And it will shoot across the street over a two-story house."
Calkins repaired the truck in New Jersey enough to follow his father back home, rigging up some lights for the front.
"We mostly drove during the day," he said. "It was like driving a Conestoga wagon. It like to have beat me to death."
Calkins, who recently turned 27 years old, said he plans on repairing the truck after body work is completed.
"It needs a lot of electrical work done to it," he said.
Calkins is planning on selling the fire truck to a fire department after he gets it back in working order.
"I'm not looking to make a big profit," he said.
The fire truck, Engine 205 from North Brunswick, N.J., is currently being serviced at C&A Body Shop.
"When they finish it, it will probably take me about four months to try and repair the electrical work because I work 28 days on and 14 days off," Calkins said.
Calkins recently received a promotion at Canal Barge Company in Belle Chase as a tugboat pilot.
Calkins was not real surprised by the tugboat accident in New Orleans last week. In that mishap several thousands of gallons of oil was dumped into the Mississippi River after an outbound 600-foot Liberian-flagged tanker named The Tintomara collided with a barge being pulled by a tugboat near the Harvey Locks. The barge -- which was carrying 400,000 gallons of thick, tar-like No. 6 fuel oil -- was split in half, sending its contents into the river.
"There's steady traffic in and out," Calkins said. "With the river high, it gets hectic. Everyone has to work together. What happened is a worst-case scenario."
But Calkins said he would not give up his job as a tugboat pilot to become a full-time fire fighter.
"There's no money in it," he said.
Calkins, who is the assistant fire chief for the Parhams volunteer unit, loves working on fire trucks.
"We had three in Parhams when I started as a volunteer there and only one would run," he said. "Now all three run. I'm constantly working on fire trucks. It's a hobby for me."
New Brunswick is 45 minutes from where the World Trade Center is located. Engine 205 stayed around the World Trade Center for 72 hours assisting in the tragedy.
"It's definitely a piece of history," Calkins said. "Louisiana sent a truck up to New York and they reciprocated and helped us after Hurricane Katrina. You might find some collector who may want it, but it's so big I don't know if it would be a collector's item. I would like to see it put back in service."
Calkins admits it will not be easy to hand it over to someone else.
"It will be tough to let it go," Calkins said. "I want it to go to someone kind of close who can use it."
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