1929 American LaFrance Pumper Fire Truck
On loan from: Kearney Volunteer Fire Department
Original cost: $13,000
Engine, etc.: 130 hp; 1,000 gpm pump; 1,200 ft. of 2.5 in. hose
This was the second mechanized pumper fire truck owned by Kearney Volunteer Fire Department. It is a triple combination pumper with 130 h. p. and can pump 1,000 gallons per minute. It has 1,200 ft. of 2 ½” hose.
It was purchased new for the Kearney Fire Department and served Kearney for 28 years. It was put out of service in 1956 and sold for $750.00 to the Calhan (CO) Fire Department. It was driven from Kearney to Calhan. They used it until the early 1980’s when it was purchased by an antique car dealer who planned to restore it.
On Jan. 13, 1987 Gene Beerbohm, a member of the KVFD, purchased the truck for $6,000.00. The City of Kearney bought the historic truck from him for $7,900 and donated it back to the KVFD.
In July, 2008 the engine was completely disassembled. Everything was cleaned, polished, stripped, and reassembled which took three years. Most of the work was done by KVFD members Wayne Olson and Al Schadt. A number of local and area businesses donated mechanical and body parts, paint, and other services. As a result, the engine was restored for less than $3,000.00.
A notebook that accompanied the truck shows pictures of the 1st grade class at Bryant Elementary School, Kearney, viewing and sitting on the truck during Fire Prevention Week in 1939.
The truck won first place at the 2002 Great Fire Engine Rally in St. Louis.
The LaFrance Manufacturing Company was founded in 1873 by Truckson LaFrance and several partners and sold hand-powered equipment based on LaFrance’s new patents. The LaFrance Fire Engine Company and the American Fire Engine Company combined in 1903 to form the American LaFrance Fire Company with offices and a manufacturing plant in Elmira, NY. It made its first motorized fire truck in 1907. In 1916 the company made a 6-cylinder gas-powered pumping apparatus that worked so well that it marked the end of the previously standard steam engine. The company celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1973. American LaFrance was sold in 1995, passed through several other owners, and in 2014 ceased operations.
Source: Notebook accompanying truck; articles from Kearney Hub, Oct. 14, 1982, Jan. 15, 2008