Monday, March 22, 2004

Former Worcester firetruck bought for film

Filmmaker buys firetruck

Christina E. Sanchez

NORTH BROOKFIELD- After years of service and two years sitting in Dupre's company yard, a former Worcester Fire Department hazardous materials truck is preparing for its Hollywood film debut.

Richard P. Dupre, owner of the 1973 Hahn yellow fire engine and a member of North Brookfield's Emergency Management Team, said he put the former Haz Mat One up for auction on eBay, with the winning bid of $8,000 coming from an unexpected, last-minute bidder.

The engine's new owner is the film company making a movie about the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. fire, and it plans to use the truck in the movie, Mr. Dupre said.

The movie, "Worcester Cold Storage," is about the fire Dec. 3, 1999 that claimed the lives of Worcester Firefighters Jeremiah M. Lucey, Paul A. Brotherton and Joseph T. McGuirk and Lts. Thomas E. Spencer, James F. Lyons III and Timothy P. Jackson.

Filming is set to begin in May in Toronto. The movie will be produced by Imagine Entertainment and distributed by Warner Bros.

The screenplay, based on former Boston Herald reporter Sean Flynn's book, "3000 Degrees: The True Story of a Deadly Fire and the Men Who Fought It," was written by Worcester native Scott Silver.

Danny Boyle, who directed the 1996 film "Trainspotting," is expected to direct the film.

Mr. Dupre was skeptical at first that it was the film company that purchased the truck, until he made contact with the company. He said the memory of the fire would never escape his mind, but he didn't realize a movie was going to be made about the tragedy.

"I was just amazed that it sold. I was hoping that someone could use it or that maybe another town could do something with it ... I said, "Yeah right, like it's going to be in a movie,'" he said about his initial reaction.

He said he will donate a portion of the money to the Emergency Management Team and to the North Brookfield Fire Department, because the job of these two groups is important for the town.

Mr. Dupre is a volunteer on the 15-member Emergency Management Team. After the attacks Sept. 11, 2001, he felt it was important to be part of a team that deals in disaster preparedness and response, he said.

Mr. Dupre said he purchased the yellow engine in October 2002 from the Worcester Fire Department in an auction of surplus equipment, intending that it would be used by the North Brookfield Emergency Management Team.

Because he put in a blind bid for the truck, he did not realize how large the vehicle would be or how much it would cost to maintain.

"It's just so big, and it's impractical for what the team would use it for. The team is either level-funded or zero funded (by the town) and we couldn't afford to keep the truck. It's a good-looking truck, and we would have loved to keep it, but financially, we just couldn't," Mr. Dupre said.

Because the truck could not be used, it has sat in the yard of his company, Dupre's, on Brown Street. The company specializes in recycling, including heavy iron.

He said the truck was used by the Worcester Fire Department as backup until the department purchased a new truck.

Mr. Dupre said that although he does not know anything about eBay, he posted the truck on the Web site at the suggestion of his niece's husband, who took a photograph of the truck to put online. The starting minimum bid was set at $6,500.

About 3,000 inquiries came from all over the world, including Germany and Africa, he said.

"One person wanted to trade a piece of land in Arizona for it. Another asked if we could drive it to Germany. Not sure how that would have happened, considering the ocean," Mr. Dupre said.

Someone from the film company is supposed to come from Ontario to get the truck and drive it back to Canada.

Mr. Dupre chuckled when he mentioned the company was planning to drive the truck back. He said he suggested the company get a tow bed truck for the fire engine because the truck can go only 45 mph, perhaps 50 downhill.

Mr. Dupre said he has no firm opinion on whether the movie should be made, but said it could show the work that firefighters do.

"If it could end up helping to save one or two lives along the line, it will be beneficial," he said.

Photo below
The retired Worcester Haz Mat One will be used in a movie.
(T&G Staff / DAN GOULD)