She was the darling of the Paihia Fire Brigade, so there were possibly a few lumps in the throat when Engine 753 left town.

Long-serving former fire chief and now volunteer-anything around the station, Henry Nissen, admits to it being a sad day when the lovely old lady was put on the back of a truck and taken off for new adventures in Wellington.

The imported D-series Ford chassis and cab was brand new in 1972, "built" into a fire engine in Wellington and brought to Paihia.

"She's been a good and faithful worker for us ever since," said Mr Nissen.


For a long time, she was the station's sole engine and, although no one has yet counted it up officially, logged 4000-plus calls in her working life.

Engine 753 was decommissioned in 2000 but has proven a bit of a local party girl in what might otherwise be retirement.

Local fundraisers, Christmas parades, festivals, school events - you name it, she's done it, Mr Nissen said.

She's carried thousands of kids around and helped raise bucketloads of money for local good, he said.

He started with the volunteer service in 1971, so he's talking about 45 years of service himself. But, while he'll hang around "getting in the way" down at the station (or so he says, the truth is they really wouldn't want to do without him), Engine 753 is facing a brand new future.

Fearing her temperamental gearbox (an old fire engine's "arthritis") might see her become scrap metal, the Paihia team put her on Facebook to see what interest there might be.

The 44-year-old fire engine caught the eye of the Wellington Fire Museum, which hires out some vehicles for movies, advertising and promotional work. So, instead of ending up on the scrap heap, Engine 753 might one day be racing off to fires again, lights and siren blazing - a star once more.

It's a thought that tickles Mr Nissen, who was possibly the saddest of all to see her leave. He's not a bloke afraid to express his feelings.

"I was just in love with her when she came and in love with her when she left," he said.