PORTLAND – Sitting behind the wheel of a 1920s-era pump truck parked on Spring Street, Giorgio Rotolo jiggled the wheel back and forth, pretending he was on his way to help put out a fire.

The open air truck was parked outside the Portland Fire Museum, and the 3-year-old Portland boy, who already aspires to be a firefighter, could have sat there all day.

“It’s big,” he said when his nanny finally coaxed him off. “It has big wheels so it can drive.”

Giorgio was one of hundreds, young and old, who walked through the fire museum Saturday during the ninth annual open house. In addition to the museum collection of apparatus, a contemporary fire truck and the old pump truck were parked outside, and there were performances by Cladah Mhor Pipe Band and the State Street Traditional Jazz Band.

After sitting in the pump truck, Giorgio went inside to meet Jack and Molly, who are the big draw for most children. The two workhorses munching on hay inside the museum were similar to those that pulled fire apparatus in the early 1900s.

Members of the Portland Veteran Firemen’s Association were on hand as docents throughout the day. Michael Daicy explained to a group that leather buckets lining the wall in the corner of the main floor were used to put out fires in the 1600s and 1700s. The buckets were filled and passed down the line for firemen to extinguish a fire and passed back empty for women and children to help refill.

In the opposite corner of the museum, Clement Dodd, a retired Portland police officer, flipped through a binder to find a picture of his father, who retired as Portland fire chief in 1976. While the younger Dodd went into law enforcement, he remembers stories from his father and grandfather, who was also a firefighter.

“He used to pull an apparatus like that,” Dodd said, pointing at one of the old apparatus set up in the museum.

It was the first time Dodd had been to the museum, which opened in 1974. The building that houses the museum was built in 1837 to serve as the West End’s fire house. The second floor was originally a girls school and a place for political meetings.

“It’s wonderful,” Dodd said. “I’m really surprised at the interest shown by the turnout.”

Daicy said the museum is open from 6 to 8 p.m. during Portland’s art walks on the first Friday of every month.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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