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Antique Reno fire fighting equipment in need of a new home after massive rent increase

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The Reno Fire Department has a history dating back to 1888 when the first professional fire department was established. Some of the vehicles used by the department, dating back to the turn of the century, are now facing a threat. 

The Reno Fire Antique and Classic Apparatus Committee has at least seven classic firefighting vehicles, some of which date back to the early 1900s. Since the closure of the Reno Fire Museum, the members of the committee said the equipment has been shuffled from one warehouse to another. 

“Originally housed as part of Reno’s former public safety headquarters, and the Reno Fire Department’s historic Station 1, the RFD Museum began its search for another permanent home in 2007, when the construction of Greater Nevada Field was approved by the City,” Kevin Seirer, president of the committee, wrote in a letter asking for support. “For the next 15 years, the museum contents and apparatus found shelter in a 6,000 square-foot, city-owned warehouse on Winter St. 

“During those 15 years, despite the lack of a truly viewable museum space, the restored apparatus would be brought out of storage for holidays and special events, often serving as pageant transportation at the request of elected and appointed City, State and Federal dignitaries.” 

Antique Reno fire fighting equipment is in need of a new home after a rent hike. Image: Mark Hernandez / This Is Reno.
Antique Reno fire fighting equipment is in need of a new home after a rent hike. Image: Mark Hernandez / This Is Reno.

The rent for the warehouse where the vehicles are held is being raised by a multiple of at least three, Seirer said, and the cost is too much for the city, which still owns a majority of these machines and helps cover the cost of the lease. 

Along with the vehicles, they have a large collection of items, including the original bell that was used in the firehouse in 1888. Six vehicles are crammed in a warehouse. The largest is over 65 feet long and gathering dust because there is no place for it and the others to be displayed in all their glory. 

The older vehicles have been restored at a great financial cost and years of work, Seirer said.

The firefighters and volunteers who take care of these machines said they love the time and effort they have put into maintaining these vehicles. But, if they don’t find a new place to store them, they might need to sell some of them off. That risks never having them all be in the same place again. 

“As the fate of the RFD Museum is once again in the eleventh hour, the critical and immediate need is to find a viable location to store the apparatus and artifacts, albeit temporary, thereby preventing a forced sale resulting in the permanent loss of irreplaceable pieces of the City’s legacy,” said Seirer in the letter. “In the long term, the ideal solution is to find a permanent site, allowing RFACA and the City to create a self-sustaining museum, adding a valuable addition to Reno’s historic traditions.”

The equipment is ready to be placed in a museum of some kind since they hold historical value for Reno and northern Nevada. Volunteers who have been dealing with this issue said the idea of opening a museum for either Reno or all of Nevada would be perfect to display all of the firefighting equipment. 

Seirer said the worst aspect of having so little time to find a new place is how long it takes to move the vehicles. They aren’t easy to move and require a lot of care when transporting so last-minute moves can be very precarious. 

The last time this happened was in 2021 when the need to find a new home for the fire engines was covered by the Reno News and Review. 

Mark Hernandez
Mark Hernandez
Mark was born in Mexico, grew up in Carson City, and has recently returned to Reno to continue to explore and get to know the city again. He got his journalism degree in 2018 and wants to continue learning photography for both business and pleasure. Languages and history are topics he likes to discuss as well as deplete any coffee reservoirs in close proximity.

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