Retired firetruck is coming back to life with the help of the GHS Vo-Tech Auto class
Retired Fire Apparatus Coming Back to Life
A combined project between the city, school, and community
A seventy-one year old former City of Gainesville Fire-Rescue apparatus was recently located and will be completely restored in the coming year. The apparatus, formerly #21, is a 1947 American LaFrance pumper truck. The apparatus was in service for the City until 1982.
Prior to the purchase of the 1947 apparatus, the City was utilizing mostly early 1920’s era apparatus. During World War II, a moratorium had been placed on the manufacture of fire apparatus except for emergency cases so factories could concentrate on producing war materials. Immediately after the end of World War II, the City of Gainesville City Council moved to update their fire apparatus and requested specifications for two fire apparatus in December, 1945.
Bids were opened on January 15, 1946. On January 19, 1946 the Council awarded the contract for two apparatus to the American LaFrance Company. The total price for both units was $20,675.00. The first apparatus was shipped to Gainesville on March 24, 1947. The second apparatus was not shipped until December 23, 1947.
After being removed from service in 1982, the 1947 American LaFrance pumper truck was sold at a city auction in 1983. The late Frankie Schmitz, an avid collector of antique and unique vehicles, purchased the truck. He later provided the truck to the Valley View Volunteer Fire Department where the apparatus was used for fire protection for a short period of time. The truck was later returned to Mr. Schmitz and kept in storage for many years before being sold again. In September 2018, the truck was again offered for sale and a local group purchased the unit with the intent of restoring it.
Preparations are already being made for the complete refurbishment of the truck. Plans are to restore the apparatus as close to its original condition as possible. This includes bringing the pump mechanism back to operating condition. Although having been subjected to a number of floods during its time in storage, the body of the apparatus is in surprisingly good condition with limited rust. However, as part of the refurbishment, the body will be repainted in its original color and the gold leaf lettering replaced. In addition, vintage firefighting tools and appliances will be used when possible to replace what was originally on the apparatus.
As part of an effort to involve the community in the restoration process, the Gainesville Independent School District, Vocational-Technical Automotive class has agreed to take on the overhaul of the engine, transmission and mechanical aspects of the truck as a class project. This will allow the students in the class to gain knowledge and experience working on vintage equipment. The engine is unique in having twelve cylinders with dual carburetors and two ignition systems.
Once the restoration is complete, the apparatus will be placed on permanent loan to the City of Gainesville. Gainesville Fire-Rescue will house the restored apparatus at the soon to be constructed fire station on Culberson St. The apparatus will be used for public fire safety education events, parades and public events in the city. The apparatus will be a showpiece of the rich history of Gainesville Fire-Rescue.