Excerpts from the newstrib.com:

La Salle wants to place its 88-year-old antique fire truck in a new display building across from the fire station. The truck is already on public display behind large windows in the public works garage.

The city wants to build a better display building for the old engine on a city lot at the southwest corner of Fifth Street (U.S. 6) and Sterling Street, across from the fire station. To pay for this project, the city is raising money and in-kind donations. Monetary donations will be recognized on a plaque on the exterior.

The city purchased the truck for $15,250 on June 2, 1928. It was made by American-LaFrance & Foamite Co. of Elmira. N.Y. Foamite is a fire extinguishing chemical. It was replaced and retired in 1976.

The truck features a 65-foot extendable wooden ladder, manually deployed by firemen. First, the spring-loaded ladder was released, said Fire Chief Andy Bacidore. Then, firemen would turn hand cranks to extend the ladder.

The front wheels are steel but the rear wheels have wooden spokes. The tires are solid rubber. The truck is gasoline-powered and the front wheels are chain-driven.

In 1975, a film crew recorded the truck with Fire Chief Jim Flower and firemen Don Pittman, Ray Perez, and Nick LaCosta for a Mr. Coffee television commercial. It is one of many Mr. Coffee commercials from the 1970s featuring retired baseball great Joe DiMaggio, although DiMaggio did not film his part in La Salle.

The old truck was placed in the public works building in the late 1990s. Bacidore remembers moving it in there.

“That was the last time it actually ran,” Bacidore said. “My father knew how to work on it. He drove it and ran it.”

Once the fire truck was inside, they built walls around it. The public works garage also once housed a second old fire truck, a 1926 engine on loan. But the family asked for it back when an estate was settled.

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