The lot next to the fire station on the corner of Smelter Alley is empty. For years it has stored two fire engines made by Seagraves, one from 1940, the other a year younger. This summer the Fire Department sold them to a man in Vail who restores old fire trucks and tractors. “It was time,” says firefighter Ike Isaacson. “They were just rusting away and nobody here has the time or energy to do restoration.”

There were two offers on the fire trucks. One was from a salvage company who would have resold the vehicles for scrap. Restoring the trucks had much more appeal than breaking them down for scrap, so they went to Vail.

The fire house is much bigger than it looks from the outside, and houses two other antique fire trucks, the ones they bring out for the fourth of July parade. In addition there are three wildland vehicles used mainly for forest fires, one emergency medical vehicle with a second as backup, two structure engines, one tender/pumper, and a pickup.

Structure engines are used to pump water. They can be hooked up to a fire hydrant and will pump 1,000 gallons a minute. One of these is new to Patagonia. It came from the Raytheon Fire Department and, as Isaacson says, “The price was exactly right.” In other words, it was free. Raytheon was going to sell it, when they heard through Isaacson’s stepson that Patagonia would be happy to have it. All Patagonia had to do was write a letter describing their need. Isaacson explained that big fire departments are always updating their equipment. The structure engine is 38 years old and has only 46,000 miles on it. “With a Detroit diesel engine, that will run for a long long time,” said Patagonia’s mayor.

Pretty good deal. Get paid for two engines that don’t work and get one that will run for years and pay nothing.

The vacant lot behind the cyclone fence has been cleaned up and provides access to the kitchen that is under construction in back. Isaacson reckons there might be a storage shed there one day, and maybe room to have barbecues.