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After 55-Year Journey, Larchmont Fire Engine Comes Home

Reprinted from the Larchmont Gazette, May 2002.

Ettore Viazzo inspects Engine One, as Walter Bell “steers” the pumper as it rides a flatbed to the Memorial Day Parade.

Larchmont Fire Engine One is back in Larchmont. The 1922 American LaFrance Pumper served Larchmont from 1922 to 1947, when it was sold off. On the death of its last owner, Seattle antique car collector Richard Cooper, the family contacted Larchmont’s Volunteer firefighters via Larchmont Online, the Village web site.

The excited volunteers arranged to purchase the pumper and had it “Fed-Exed” to Larchmont just in time for the Memorial Day Parade on May 23rd – where it was quite a hit. For the parade, it was towed on a flat-bed truck, but the department has plans to get Engine One in operational condition for parades and demonstrations.

“We were pleased to discover that the Larchmont lettering is still intact — there appears to be little change in the apparatus since we sold it in 1947,” observed LFD Chief Brian Payne. “This is a unique opportunity to preserve some of the history of Larchmont. We need to carefully evaluate its condition, and develop a plan for restoration.”

Fire Capt. P.J. Abrahamsen thinks his late grandfather John Hynes rode Engine One as a member of the department around World War II. “I think it’s pretty cool to get something like that back. It should be fun to play with.”

Engine One was front-page news back in 1922. Larchmont Historical Society Archives include 1922 editions of the Larchmonter Times with reports of voters approving a $10,000 bond issue to purchase the pumper. There’s also a stern warning from the then Chief scolding volunteers for lack of attendance at drills.

Though the eighty year-old Engine One will be the oldest vehicle in Larchmont, it only served for twenty-five years. Larchmont’s Engine 35, which began service in 1965 is 37 years old and still responding to alarms.