There's no better way to shakedown people for money -- and be sure to get it -- than putting on firefighters hat and don the trouser-jacket combination. But here's a guy from London, England who has decided to skip wearing the turnout gear and instead raise money for lung cancer research just by driving a fire truck around the globe.
After departing London on July 18, 2010, Steve Moore traveled east through Europe, passing through Russia and sneaking into China, where people mobbed the truck in enthusiasm. Next, he entered Kazakhstan, where most people were utterly confused by the sight of the fire engine, and then went to Mongolia, a country filled with people who have never even seen a fire truck before, because fire is considered sacred.
The trip has been long and exhausting, with the occasional motion sickness, but it's still nowhere near complete. He plans to circumvent the globe, stopping in 28 countries and San Francisco is his next destination. Moore spoke with SF Weekly on his way along Highway 1, on his way to our fair city.
"I don't know where I am, but this place is beautiful," Moore said.
So far, he has managed to raise $140,000 -- and every penny is going toward lung cancer research and firefighters charities.
So why would a 33-year-old guy from London decide to drive around the world in a fire truck that doesn't go faster than 50 mph?
"My father was a firefighter and he died of lung cancer," Moore said.
After Moore's father, Garth Moore, died on July 18, 2009, from a long battle with lung cancer, his son decided he wanted to do something that was sure to raise money and awareness across the world. His father's fire department donated the engine and Moore got five friends together and planned what would be the world's first fire engine to travel more than 22,360 miles circumventing the globe.
"We wanted to do something that's never been done before and probably never will be done again," said Moore.
But then he chuckles about how seemingly absurd it is to drive a fire engine across the world.
"It's ridiculous, and it's even more ridiculous in hindsight," Moore said as he laughed. "People were like 'What? You want to ship a fire truck?' You ship Christmas Cards or a piano but not fire trucks.'"
Moore's expedition -- which he dubbed Follow that Fire Engine -- arrived in the United States three days ago, after a stint in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. He is on his way into San Francisco where he will stop for do some fundraising for two days. Then, he will make his way down to Los Angeles, over to Arizona and New Orleans, and eventually make his way to New York. From there, Moore will ship the truck over to Africa. He hopes to make it home by April 10, 2011, with $200,000 raised.
"You do get sick from exhaustion and it's a constant battle -- just filling out the paper work to get into China took six months," Moore said. "But what keeps us going is the support we have and the people we meet."
Follow his expedition here.