Updated: Aug 17, 2021
ST. ANNE — Dylan Mercier has had a life-long love for firefighters, in particular the St. Anne Fire Protection District where he has served as a paid on-call member of the force for the past few years.
A member of the force since the age of 14 when he was part of the cadet program, the soon-to-be-20-year-old so loves the force and its mission that he recently had his 18-wheeler, a 2005 Mack truck and trailer, decked out in a fire-themed wrap from Fastlane Wraps of Chebanse.
“Dad’s been in the fire service for a long time,” Mercier said of this father, Ralph. “It just flows through my blood. I guess I’m carrying on the tradition.”
That fact makes his father very happy and proud of his son. Ralph Mercier, 55, served from 1984-2011 on the Papineau Fire Department and then from 2011 to present on St. Anne’s force.
Ralph noted at first Dylan was initially thinking of having just the cab wrapped.
“I told him if we are going to do this, then it’s going to be done right,” he said, referring to both the truck and trailer. “It came out very nice. I’m very happy with it,” Ralph said.
At a cost of about $7,000, the truck and trailer, which can haul about 1,100-bushel of corn, are now a brilliant red with yellow and orange highlights.
INSURANCE COSTS ARE PRICEY
The 2019 graduate of St. Anne Community High School does not have becoming a firefighter as his life’s ambition. He plans on being connected to the service as he moves on with his life, but he will work with his father and his St. Anne-based businesses — Mercier Valley Irrigation and Power Solution Plus — as well hauling grain locally as time allows.
Insurance was so high that Mercier would have been operating the truck simply to pay for its insurance.
Due to his young age, Mercier will not be hauling grain on a regular basis in the near future. However, he plans on taking the rig to shows throughout Illinois and the Midwest.
He has a hard time hiding his joy for the truck.
The process of transforming this Mack into a tribute to fire service came quite innocently. He found a Mack bulldog hood ornament on a website and then outfitted it in fire gear.
“I had no plans to wrap it when I bought it,” he said. “I guess you could say it just happened. It started with that dog ornament. It all spun from that.
The process was set in motion. Instead of painting the rig a combination of blue and silver as he had planned, he switched gears and went with fire engine red.
One thing led to another and he began incorporating murals and yellow and orange for glowing fire.
But it would have been extremely costly to do such a paint job. Instead he contacted Chad Brosseau, owner of Fastlane, for one of his customized vehicle vinyl wraps. About a year prior, Brosseau had completed a customized patriotic wrap for a truck owned by Alan Webber, owner of Webber Trucking in Kankakee, which had gathered much attention.
“I love doing things like this,” Brosseau acknowledged. “Fire departments in these little towns don’t get much recognition. It’s a nice to create a buzz.”
KEEPING IT CLEAN
Mercier laid out his concept and then let Brosseau come up with the design. It took several weeks of back-and-forth discussions and the plan was agreed upon. Brosseau and his crew spent about 12 hours installing the trailer wrap and another 10 hours wrapping the cab.
By late October, the truck was completed.
Brosseau informed Mercier he was likely going to receive a lot of attention as he traveled throughout the country as he hauled, but he was informed the truck wouldn’t be on the road too much due to the overwhelming cost of insurance.
“For such a young man to have such a passion is really something,” Brosseau said.
In addition to expressing his love for fire service, Brosseau said the wrap will also protect the truck from weather and the roadway debris such as rocks.
While working mainly for his father, Mercier plans on picking up a few local grain hauling jobs, mainly for the St. Anne grain elevator.
Until he can hit the road on a regular basis, he will continue to wash the rig and display it at shows.
“I don’t like it to get dirty,” he conceded.