Firefighters set to restore 1923 engine

By Dave Gomez

The Sycamore Fire Department and Chamber of Commerce are holding a fundraiser this month to restore a more than 80-year-old fire engine.

The 1923 Stutz Fire Engine’s restoration will cost between $10,000 and $15,000, Chief Bill Riddle said.

The department aims to refurbish, restore and eventually drive the engine, which is currently being housed behind the station, Riddle said.

The engine currently is owned by the Sycamore Firefighters Preservation Company, President Jim Lyons said.

The engine originally belonged to the Sycamore Fire Department in the 1920s and was the second motorized apparatus the department had. It was retired in 1957 and auctioned off in 1964.

The engine’s most recent owner was thinning his collection and gave the Sycamore Fire Department first choice for the vehicle, and sold it for $16,500, Riddle said.

“We thought that it was really important to preserve this piece of art,” Riddle said.

The engine is in good condition after being in storage for 35 years, but the department is unsure how mechanically roadworthy it will be and is looking for someone with a background in historical vehicles to help restore it, Riddle said.

“Once we start, we don’t think it’ll be a really difficult project,” Riddle said. “[There’s] no rust; all the parts are there. It’s beautiful.”

Donors can place donations in fire boots located at eight Sycamore businesses until Oct. 15.

The fundraiser comes when firefighters are in the spotlight.

October is National Fire Prevention Month, and “Ladder 49,” a drama about firefighters starring John Travolta and Joaquin Phoenix, brought in $22 million on its Oct. 3 opening weekend.

Although no numbers for the fundraiser are in yet, a showing of “Ladder 49” last week at the Sycamore State Street Theatre, a fundraiser participant, drew a good showing, Lyons said.

For more information, contact the Sycamore Fire Department at 895-4514.