An enthusiast’s dream to preserve and display about 20 historic fire engines looks like going up in smoke.
Matt Silver has been working for almost 15 years to establish a fire museum in Wellington, but has been unable to turn his dream into reality.
Now the old 1940s Car Giant warehouse in Petone, where he keeps the engines, is set for demolition, and he has to find somewhere else to store them while he continues to raise funds towards a permanent solution.
“The only space available within my budget is in an open air compound in which the fire engines – some that are 50 years old – will deteriorate very quickly, and in the past have been vandalised by scrap metal thieves pinching thousands of dollars of irreplaceable parts and batteries,” Silver said.
“If there is a landlord out there who has an empty warehouse and can help, that would be great.”
But if he cannot find dry and secure storage in the next two or three weeks, he fears he will no longer be able to keep the collection, which he has funded on his own so far.
The other option would be to turn to public fundraising.
“There is an ideal [warehouse] available at a discounted rate of $5000 a month, where potentially 50 fire engines and a fire education centre could be housed. But that is still too much for me to pay out of my own pocket.”
The perfect solution would be for a council or the Fire Service to step up, he said. He had approached the Fire Service and regional councils to back a museum in the Wellington area, but without success.
“It is the 150th anniversary of the Wellington Fire Service, and a fire museum in the Wellington region would be a fitting way to pay tribute to those who have served.”
Efforts were was made in 2007 to seek funding and support to turn the old Lower Hutt fire station in Waterloo Rd into a museum, he said. Eight years later, it sits empty and badly vandalised.
A Fire Service spokesman confirmed Silver had approached it periodically about his idea of setting up a museum in Wellington. But it did not have the resources to fund a private project.
NEIL RATLEY – Stuff