Fire Truck Restoration

The fire truck project began as a search for a 1914 fire truck that a few of us found out was in the Lindsay Fire Department for many years as a fully functional fire truck.

The year was 1915, not long after the San Francisco earthquake and the resulting fires that just about destroyed the city. It was a year for the World's Fair and the major world wide event was the opening of the Panama Canal. San Francisco was rebuilding and wanted to welcome Americans and the whole world to it's newness.

The 1915 Pan-Pacific Exposition was to take place in San Francisco and a year later, it would be repeated in San Diego with more fanfare for the canal.

1914 LaFrance Fire Truck

1914 LaFrance Fire Truck-we have two!

Preparations for the world's fair were well in place beginning in 1914 and at such an event, there would be need for a full fledged fire department. American LaFrance, the premier fire apparatus manufacturer was asked to make the fire equipment for the 1915 event. There were three fire houses at the exposition grounds. Each house had a pump truck, a ladder truck and a chemical truck made for it. And there was one hook and ladder truck for the exposition grounds.

The equipment was top of the line and was made to show the state of the art in fire fighting prowess for the company. The pump truck could move 750 gpm of water and the trucks were painted in deep red with gold leaf trim. They were the best the industry had to offer.

After the exposition, the equipment was sold off. San Francisco bought several trucks and the others went to bidders mostly in California. Later, the City of Lindsay, purchased one of the pump trucks. It was used in the City for years and the last fire it served on was in the early 1960's at the LoBue Packing house fire. A retired firefighter told us the 45 year old truck was used because it would pump more water than anything in the County and the truck pumped constantly for 2 days on the fire.

This 1920 model is a close duplicate.

Where are the safety uniforms?

After that, the truck was retired. It was repainted, rebuilt and reserved for parades and displays for historical items to be displayed. The old truck was still an active part of Lindsay. After that, it was donated to the Tulare County Museum and was on display for several years and after that, the stories get a little muddled. The truck wound up in Fresno and suddenly there were two. A second of the world's fair trucks had been bought by Moro Bay and somehow found its way to Fresno.

We are told both trucks were partially disassembled and looked more like a puzzle waiting to be reassembled than two trucks. A fire truck rebuilder took possession of both trucks and they went to a great barn in Auburn to be housed with 5 more trucks. The rebuilder lost interest in the trucks with other projects and perhaps, easier parts availability.

The Lindsay search for its long lost fire truck led to the barn in Auburn where both trucks were found. The rebuilder had passed away and the wife was interested in cleaning out some of the barn space. With the support of Lindsay community members, a committee was formed called 'Restore the Fire Truck Committee'.

The funds were raised and borrowed to purchase the two trucks in the condition they were in. A semi truck was donated to transport, a crew volunteered to go get the equipment and the old fire truck with a matching brother were brought back to Lindsay. The boxes were unloaded, the chassis were rolled into a building and the project was begun.