Surviving family members to Alfred Lee Evitt, the man who operated the first LaFayette fire truck in 1926, recently donated $2,315 towards the truck’s restoration.
The 1926 LaFayette fire engine No. 5534 has survived its time since its retirement tucked away at the city fire department.
During the time of former LaFayette police chief Tommy Freeman, the engine was almost sold, but the city held onto the antique. The city now plans to raise $10,000 to restore the chain-driven fire truck.
Alfred Lee Evitt and his wife Gladys Andrews Evitt moved from a farm into the city of LaFayette in 1925. Evitt was the first to operate the fire engine and years later became a car salesman for Ford and Chevrolet. He died at age 41 on Sept. 30, 1939.
Once Evitt brought the fire engine into town after its purchase, he drove the fire truck proudly around the city of LaFayette to show the citizens the city’s first fire engine.
The fire truck, which pre-dates World War II, originally had wooden spoke wheels and today would cost the equivalent of a half-million dollars.
The goal is to get the antique fire engine running and street-safe for parades and car shows, to name a couple possible events.
The city of LaFayette purchased its first motorized fire truck in February 1926. The fire truck that was purchased for the then-exorbitant amount of $11,260 and was a 1926 American-LaFrance Foamite Type 40 Trip No. 5534. This mean it was a triple-combination pumping, chemical and hose fire engine.
The fire truck that was delivered and remains at the city today is a 600-gallon fire truck, powered by a four-cylinder, 75-horsepower engine. It is chain-driven, has a hand crank and mechanical brakes. Unlike so many other cities, LaFayette chose to keep its vintage fire truck for the past 88 years.
According to the Antique Fire Truck Club of America, only 120 Type 40 Trips were ever built, making it exceedingly rare.
While the truck has remained in good condition and has been kept safely indoors and out of the elements, it is still 88 years old, and like anything of advancing age, it needs some general repairs.
The city would like to eventually do a full restoration of the classic fire engine; however at this time the city would like to raise enough funds to make old No. 5534 safe and roadworthy once again.
The city is looking to raise $10,000 for the general repairs, which would be used to purchase new tires, have the original wooden wheels repaired/restored and to make other much-needed repairs such as rebuilding the starter and carburetor.
Checks should be made out to Go Fund Me campaign at www.gofundme.com/lafayettefiretruck.