Riding like firefighters

July 6, 2018

Fire truck enthusiast Dennis Hirschbrunner this week continued his longstanding Fourth of July week tradition of providing kids living at Christopher’s Cove the chance to ride on antique fire trucks.

“We just drive around and the kids come running out from their houses or the beach because they want to ride on the fire truck,” Hirschbrunner said of giving the neighborhood kids rides.

Area kids had the opportunity to ride on a 1947 Columbus Fire Department firetruck Hirschbrunner purchased in 2013, which initially sparked his interest in collecting the antiques. He now owns four fire trucks, which he keeps in his garage at a 100-year-old automobile building in town.

Children in attendance were all smiles, commenting on “how cool” and “old” the truck appeared.

Hirschbrunner said the truck was in bad shape when he first purchased it, noting he spent months refurbishing the vehicle with his father and brother.

Hirschbrunner invested approximately $15,000-20,000 per truck, adding he enjoys preserving the history of various fire departments. His collection consists of two fire trucks from Columbus Fire, one from Longmeadow, Massachusetts, one from Snyder, Texas, and a car. All of the mechanical elements of the trucks still function as if they were brand new, including the sirens.

“They’re really neat trucks,” Hirschbrunner said.

He said he will be adding four more trucks from Duncan, Lindsay, Bellwood and Platte Center to his collection later this year.

Hirschbrunner is not shy when it comes to showing off his collection, which can be seen during the annual Columbus Days Parade in August, as well as at the Labor Day Celebration in Schuyler.

“We just have a lot of fun with it,” Hirschbrunner said.

Adults will also be given the opportunity to ride on the trucks during Christmas season.

Hirschbrunner said he helps transport Santa Claus on his truck to Frankfort Square annually, as well as provides rides during the New Year Countdown celebration.

Hirschbrunner is working tirelessly with fundraisers and collecting donations to open up a fire truck museum where his garage is located, providing community members the opportunity to enjoy his collection more often. He said he hopes to see the museum open its doors within the next 18 months, adding he eventually would like to be recognized by the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Although he has big aspirations, Hirschbrunner said he has no plans to ever stop providing local kids the opportunity to take rides on his trucks.

“Kids still love fire trucks and they love riding on them,” he said.

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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