CLEARFIELD — The Lawrence Township Fire Company No. 1 found and rescued its first fire truck from a junkyard in Oklahoma and are hoping to restore it.
The fire truck is a 1936 American Lefrance that was built in Elmira, N.Y.
It was originally used by the Oceola Mills Fire Company and the newly formed Lawrence Township Fire Company purchased it from Oceola Mills in 1955, according to Rick Hummel, vice-president of Lawrence Township Fire Company No. 1.
Hummel is a firefighter and said he drove and operated the truck many times over the years.
The fire engine had a small 150-gallon tank but had a strong reliable pump.
“The night of the Trinity Church Fire, that truck sat at the river and pumped all night continually,” Hummel said.
The Trinity Church Fire was on Dec. 21, 1968.
The truck also had a special vertically primed pump that allowed it to pump extremely fast, he noted.
“The guys loved to take it to pumping contests,” Hummel said.
It was also popular with the firefighers because it was small, about 22 feet long, and was reliable and easy to operate and was built like a tank. And in its later years it was a great brush truck, Hummel said.
Once the truck was en route to a fire in the winter in East End and slid on some ice and T-boned two cars but was able to continue on to the fire.
The fire company had the fire truck until the late 1970s when it sold the truck to a collector in New York state. The fire company has pictures of the fire truck being displayed as a show truck by the buyer and his family, Hummel said.
In 2017 one of the fire company’s members, Bill Armstrong, was on the internet and happened to search “1936 Lefrance” and found a picture of a fire truck in a field in Oklahoma at a salvage yard owned by Buck Wilson in McCallister, Oklahoma.
When he zoomed in on the picture he saw “Lawrence” written across the hood and thought “Oh my gosh that’s our truck.”
“We don’t know how it went from a show truck in New York to a field in Oklahoma,” Hummel said.
The salvage yard agreed to sell the truck to the fire company for $4,000 in cash, and wanted to know the history of the truck and some T-shirts with the fire company’s logo.
Four members of the fire company borrowed a Dually pickup and a trailer and drove to Oklahama and towed it back to Clearfield.
The fire company wants to restore the truck but hasn’t started yet. Hummel said the company doesn’t have a good estimate on how much it is going to cost to restore it yet. He said the fire company is willing to take donations for its restoration.
They are also looking for someplace to store the truck and get it out of the weather. If anyone has any suggestions they should contact the fire company, according to Hummel.