Dwight Jeckel went on vacation last year and brought home a fire truck. But he couldn't just let the big truck sit in the driveway of his north Raleigh home ... at least his wife wouldn't let that happen.
Crissy Jeckel told him he had to do something with it. So together, the couple, parents of three kids, started First-In Fire Company, offering the truck for birthday parties, weddings, store grand openings and other special events.
"For me, I'm 44 with a 12-year-old mindset," he said. "I love it."
I met Jeckel a couple of months ago when I went to his north Raleigh home to interview Crissy, the owner of Blueberry Hill Boutique, an eBay store. I featured Crissy as part of my weekly series focusing on local moms.
The first thing I noticed when I got to her house was the giant fire truck in her driveway and no obvious need for one (as in no smoke or flames shooting from the windows).
Dwight Jeckel, a corporate pilot, has long had a fascination with fire trucks and firefighting. As a college student in New York, he was a volunteer firefighter. A couple of years ago, he began volunteering with the Wake New Hope Fire Department.
"It's a passion - the brotherhood, they've always got your back," he tells me. "It's a good time and I just have a passion for trucks and the chrome and the lights and colors. The whole thing. It's just so exciting."
Jeckel had been looking for a fire truck for a couple of years and found the 1985 American LaFrance truck for sale online while the family was on vacation in New Hampshire. The truck, from the Garden City Fire Department in Long Island, was in good condition.
"Everything on it works, the sirens, the lights, the horns, all the gee whiz stuff," he said.
Jeckel retrofitted one of the nozzles so kids can spray water from the truck's 500 gallon tank. He brings along a firefighter outfit and lets the kids climb all over the truck.
"The smiles go from you think the kid can't smile any farther to larger," he said.
Jeckel will bring his truck to Go Ask Mom's event at North Hills next Tuesday for the kids to explore. He'll be there from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Check this earlier post for more information about the big event!