At 2.5 (almost 3) years old, Ezra has seen a lot and been through a lot and shown great maturity through it all. But despite all of the ups and downs that life has offered to him, it’s still hard for me to imagine that he is already doing the same thing that I am doing – and he was able to start doing it some 28 years sooner….he is now driving his own ladder truck.
A few nights ago while at work, Ahna and Ezra stopped by on their way home from the airport. It was a nice visit and certainly gave me my family fix in the middle of the long shift at work; then things got interesting. In a pre-arranged surprise, a great friend and fellow firefighter – CJ – showed up and shocked us with an amazing gift for Ezra. It seems that over the past several months, CJ and a few others have been conspiring behind closed doors to create a fire truck that Ezra will be able to have and to play with; built in memory of Liam.
CJ, Tony, Brett, Ron, Carl, Ryan, Scott, Jenn, Sabrina, Stacey, Emily, John, and Amy all contributed to this amazing project. They started with a toy-pedal fire truck, and left the ‘stock’ world from there. The truck was disassembled and rebuilt using complete custom parts – all meticulously thought out and crafted. And as an amazing tribute to the fire service family, a lot of the people involved don’t even know us, they just know of us. According to CJ, once word spread about the project, people immediately offered their expertise and time to help create the truck. Wow.
For a tour of the customization (starting at the front, driver’s side): all of the paint is hand done and completely custom, including copper leaf and pin striping. The paint on the hood air vents is designed to resemble a pike pole. Then the bell was a complete custom job and added to the truck (the original came on top of the hood and was not brass). The wooden backboard was hand made and includes custom engraving (the logo-ed backboard is a Denver FD tradition that I love on this truck because it is a great reminder of who helped with the truck). On the back of the truck are two special made metal etched/cut outs that speak directly to what the truck is all about: Brotherhood and Never Forget. In the back of the truck, you will find some examples of tools on every ladder company like a salvage cover, a hall runner, and some rope. The extension ladder was completely hand made and is fully functioning, as is the pike pole directly above it. The original truck didn’t have a siren on it, so the guys made sure to fix that by finding, ordering, and adding an electronic siren that is wired to work from the dash. Also from the dash, you will find the control for the working lights. The final touch is the most striking: ghost images on the hood. You can only see these in certain lights and only from certain angles, but there are hod-rod style flames, and Liam’s name.
It is obvious from the moment that you set eyes on this truck that it is an extremely unique gift that was made with a tremendous amount of love – which is why I was speechless when we were surprised by it, and I get teary eyed when I share about it with other people.
There is one additional chapter to this amazing story…the photos that you see below. Before the truck was turned over to Ezra to play with (which is what the folks that built it asked for – because I wanted to put it in a display case), I wanted to take some good pictures of it. So I contacted a photography studio that is here in Castle Rock and they were receptive to the idea. Ezra and I went there this morning and had an amazing experience with them, and ended up with some amazing photos. The folks at Forever Yours Photography not only opened up their space to us, they walked me through a studio photo session step-by-step….all as a donation to someone in their community.
So here are the photos that despite how awesome they actually are (joke), could never show how awesome the truck actually is. This is another gift that we have no way of ever being able to say thank you enough, so we will instead smile and think of Liam every time that Ezra drives his very own custom ladder truck.