By Chris Denton
In 1981, an American LaFrance pumper with a 1,500-gallons-per-minute (GPM) pump and 500-gallon tank with a Tele Squrt 50-foot hose was delivered to Whitman Square Fire Co. 1 of Washington Township District 1 of Gloucester County, N.J., to serve as Engine 1021.
It was used as a front-line apparatus until 1996, when it was replaced with a 75-foot LTI straight ladder and sold to a broker who completely stripped off the original blue paint and repainted it white with a red stripe. Shortly after the refurbishment, it was purchased and placed in service with the Charlestown (MO) Fire Department.
After its career, in mid-2016, the pumper was up for sale on a website for pre-owned fire apparatus when a member of Whitman Square Fire District took notice. Some firefighters mentioned that the engine looked like the one the district used to own, and they remarked how funny it would be if they bought and restored it. They made some inquiries and found out it was their old engine.
Crew members decided to purchase the engine and restore her to her original glory. Crew and their family and friends and other contributors were able to raise the funds to bring the apparatus home and start the restoration project. The pumper arrived back in New Jersey in late 2016; it was taken back down to bare metal and repainted from the ground up, going back to the company’s original color and graphics that it bore back in 1981.
The project did have its setbacks of time, funds, and a pandemic, but with the love and support from the crew, their family, friends, and private contributors, she was recently finished in the last couple of months. A little finish needs to be done, but she is about 99% there. Also, this project was done with donations only, no taxpayer money was used for this project.