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Sycamore fire officials revved up about vintage fire engine

Collecting donations to restore piece of city’s history

Published: Sunday, April 20, 2014 11:24 p.m. CST • Updated: Monday, April 21, 2014 12:01 a.m. CST
Caption
(Provided photo)
The 1923 Stutz fire truck (above) is Sycamore's first motorized fire engine. Former and current members of the Sycamore Fire Department have re-launched a $25,000 fundraising campaign to restore the truck after purchasing it in 2001.

SYCAMORE – Sycamore fire officials need a little help restoring a piece of the city’s history.

Sycamore Fire Preservation Company, a nonprofit organization made up of former and current members of the Sycamore Fire Department, is trying to raise $25,000 to restore a 1923 Stutz fire truck, the city’s first motorized fire engine.

“If we don’t keep the engine in town, then that history is gone,” said Marc Doty, Sycamore Fire Department’s assistant fire chief. “We feel very strongly about trying to keep this in town.”

The Sycamore Fire Department bought the fire truck in September 1923. According to city records, its first call was in November 1923 to a chimney fire on North Main Street in Sycamore.

The fire truck, which still faintly bears the name “Sycamore” on the side of the hood, spent time with at least four different owners in both Wisconsin and Indiana. It was removed from active service in 1957 and sold at a public auction in 1967.

Sycamore got the fire truck back after its owner sent a letter to the fire department in 2001 indicating he wanted to sell it. That August, the 1923 Stutz fire truck was returned to Sycamore.

Now, Sycamore Fire Preservation Company needs to restore the rusty fire engine. Gene Ege, former Sycamore Fire Department fire chief who retired in 2000, is leading the fundraising campaign.

“It’s part of the history of the department,” said Ege, president of Sycamore Fire Preservation Company. “A former fire chief once said, ‘You don’t know where you’re going to go unless you know where you came from.’

“This is where we came from. This is where we are now. This is how much things have progressed.”

Sycamore Fire Preservation Company will distribute fliers April 28 for donations. Residents and businesses can donate as much money as they can.

Organizers are still unsure what will happen once their financial goal is met, but the possibilities are endless. They could feature the fire engine on display at a facility, or they could even partner with DeKalb Fire Department to feature the truck at a joint fire safety house museum, Doty said.

Fundraising efforts began in 2001 but stalled because of the nation’s focus on helping those affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina.

Now, Sycamore Fire Preservation Company members hope to raise enough money to bring the fire truck back to life. Excess funds raised will benefit future fire department historical projects.

“We’re hoping everybody else in Sycamore will see the importance of this project and will understand this is a piece of Sycamore history,” Doty said.

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