Celina 1939 engine

The Celina Fire Department is looking to restore a 1939 engine so that it can be used in community events.

Clayton Bryan has many visions for the future of the Celina Fire Department’s 1939 engine: it could feature in a future homecoming parade, serve as a photo-op at Friday Night Markets, serve as a way to teach kids about fire safety, even to carry Santa Claus downtown during the holidays.

But the first time he saw the engine, it was hidden under a car cover at an old fire station, in storage and forgotten by time.

The engine was first built in Dallas and hadn’t left Celina since. It served as the city’s second ever fire engine (the first was a 1925 model that is currently located in Ohio). One of Bryan’s neighbors even remembers seeing the engine driving around town. Later on, the vehicle spent a stint in someone’s barn as storage and featured in at least one parade before its system was blown out after being charged with the wrong voltage.

Now Bryan, a driver/operator for the department, is looking to help the history continue.

It started when Bryan, who works on cars, reached out to Fire Chief Mark Metdker asking if he could try working on the engine. He originally volunteered to take it to his home shop, but later realized he wouldn’t have the resources to get the job done. Afterward, Metdker found a program through the Texas Department of Corrections that allows inmates at the Ellis Unit in Huntsville to restore municipal-owned vehicles.

In October, Bryan took the engine to Huntsville so that it could wait its turn in line to be restored. The trip included a stop at Buc-ee’s, where he said other passers-by kept stopping by to take pictures and ask about the Celina vehicle. Now, the engine is waiting to be restored so that it can be driven around Celina and shown to the community.

For Bryan, the goal is to make the engine serve as a “hands-on” piece of history.

“There are some cities that have invested a lot of money into restoring their engines and then they just kind of keep them behind the ropes where you can look at it but you can’t see it and you can’t touch it,” he said. “I think it’s a lot more fun if the kids can climb on it, and it would be more usable because nobody would be afraid to use it.”

Bryan said the engine will hopefully be ready in the next year to 18 months.

“In Celina, we like our downtown, we like the small-town feel, and I think kind of keeping the older things running and driving is kind of a neat part of it,” he said.

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