October 25, 2021

Marathon firefighters build station for 19th century truck

S.N. Briere/staff reporter

Marathon firefighter Dick Griep shows where the steam came out of a 1867 pumper the department bought when it was first created. The pumper is now housed in a small structure just outside the Marathon Fire Department, which the department paid for on its own. Deputy Chief Larri Leet decided to decorate it with lights for the holidays this year.

Marathon firefighter Dick Griep pointed to the top of the mid-1800s steam pumper.

“That’s where the steam would come out,” he said.

The steam pumper has been with the department since it first started out and Eagle Hose Company No. 1 bought it from a Syracuse station in October 1861.

This past fall the station finished building a scaled down version of a station from the era of the truck to house the steamer.

“We’ve been working on it for 10 years,” Griep said. “We wanted to do something but we weren’t sure what we wanted. We started thinking and said, let’s replicated an old style fire station and incorporate some of the older stuff that we got like the bell and the steamer.”

The building was designed by Griep and with help from Virgil Enterprises, Inc. on the craftsman work. The department used cobblestone for the floor and cedar for the structure — two elements common in the 1800s. The department also set up the bell the department used to ring, sounding the alarm for a fire.

It cost $41,000, all paid for by the department without any cost to taxpayers.

“It was all pancake breakfasts and miscellaneous activities,” said Deputy Fire Chief Larri Leet.

For the holidays, Leet put lights on the truck.

“Why wouldn’t you?” he said. “We’re very proud of our little town and the Christmas decorations here. If you drive through at night, I think they’re very nice and I just think we’re trying to fit in with everything else.”

Griep said sometimes when firefighters from other stations are driving through they will stop in to the department and notice the truck display building, which is just outside the fire station.

The decision to build another structure to house the steam pumper came as the department determined it needed space in the fire station for other vehicles. However, the department didn’t want to get rid of the steam pumper.

“It’s a piece of our heritage,” Leet said.

“Without that and without the dedication of the people long ago, we wouldn’t have any of this,” Griep said.

The building is also a thank you to the community, the two firefighters said.

“We are very fortunate here in the Marathon Fire Department to be blessed with the membership and the apparatus that is provided to us,” Leet said.