Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A Pasco firefighter's bright red passion

Gary Guy,  a firefighter who lives in Land O’Lakes, always dreamed of having his own fire truck. Earlier this month, he took the leap and bought into a whole new dream.

STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times

Gary Guy, a firefighter who lives in Land O’Lakes, always dreamed of having his own fire truck. Earlier this month, he took the leap and bought into a whole new dream.

LAND O'LAKES — There is something about fire trucks that make people go all googly-eyed. Maybe it's the gorgeous red or the flashing lights and sirens. It's also being able to touch something that has history — a machine created to pull up to the curb of terror and destruction and death and miraculous rescues.

Touching it, you can imagine the adrenaline of booted firefighters not knowing if this could be their last run. You could see them sooty, sweat-crusted, hands over their faces, content with a life saved or numb from a life lost, aching to go home and take a shower and hug their kids.

"I wish it could talk to me," said Gary Guy, a firefighter who just bought his own fire engine and has started a business renting it out for events.

"I want to know its stories."

Guy is 36 and grew up in Tampa and then joined the Navy. After getting out, he did odd jobs for a few years and then became a volunteer firefighter and then full time with Hillsborough. Firefighting flooded his heart — it just clicked. He loved the bond firefighters have with each other.

"It fit," he said. "I knew this was what I needed to do."

With his new business — Old Cracker Fire Company — he's cut back to volunteering again. He's always wanted his own fire engine and in February, he and his wife, Amber, began searching online and found one for sale in North Carolina. It's a 1973 Ford-Howe and was still in service until the day Gary and Amber flew in to pick it up. They drove it back to Land O'Lakes, all 605 miles with no air conditioning or radio, and saw first-hand the effect of a fire engine on people. Strangers shouted out questions about it at gas stations. People just wandered up to look at it and touch it. Drivers kept motioning for Guy to sound the siren.

Guy felt like this was a bit of fate, as the day the truck first went into service — Sept. 8, 1973 — also was his second birthday, on which he got a cake shaped as a fire engine. Guy's main influence in his life was his maternal grandfather, Emmette Cannon, who died in 1996. Guy still feels lost without him and thinks of him every day. He named the truck in his honor.

"He was my best friend," Guy said. "And he would have loved this fire engine."

Guy and his wife married a year ago after finding each other on Match.com. Both had been through difficult marriages and were single parents — their children are only three weeks apart, Gary has a son named Logan Guy and Amber has a daughter named MacKenzie Suma. They're both 5 now. Gary Guy adores children and that has been a catalyst for his new business. Sure, he wants to make money. But his main goal for doing all of this is to teach fire safety to children and adults — drawing them in by the cool truck and then giving them an important message.

Guy hopes to one day have several fire engines. He wants to buy some land and build a two story firehouse. He and his family would live on the top floor and then the bottom would be designed just like a real fire station. People could come for classes in fire safety and kids could take field trips there. It would be open to anyone wanting to see the trucks or learn about firefighting, how its done and the history of it.

His dream is a long way off right now. He just got this business running. Guy also found a fire dog about a week ago. "Every fire engine needs a dog, right?" he said. Guy saw a woman abusing a 6-month old puppy and he stopped her and took the dog, a red hound and lab mix who is big and sweet and named Howe, after the fire engine. Howe has a good life now, snoozing on soft couches and cuddling with the kids. He will ride with Guy to events. Amber wants to find Howe a little firefighter suit or at least a hat.

Guy has his first event this Saturday, the Founders' Day Parade in Zephyrhills.

"It's scary," Guy said, of taking this huge leap into owning his own business. But he feels like this is what he's being pulled to do, so he's going to roll with it. Hopefully, it will all turn out.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at
esullivan@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4609. Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

>>fast facts

The Old Cracker
Fire Company

The fire engine is available for parties, parades, weddings and other events. Gary Guy also teaches fire safety to children and adults. For information, go to
oldcrackerfirecompany.com or call (813) 770-3506. The truck will be part of the Zephyrhills Founders Day Parade at 10 a.m., this Saturday.

A Pasco firefighter's bright red passion 03/06/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:28am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

    Blogs

    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  2. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  3. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title

    Blogs

    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  4. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  5. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)

    Airlines

    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]