The County of Los Angeles Fire Museum is happy to report that it is now proudly displaying its most recent addition – a 1949 General Pacific engine that once operated out of West Hollywood and was thought lost in time. This model engine is of particular importance, as it is the very same that is sported on our Fire Fighter Specialist Engineer badge. Though not yet restored to its original condition, this vintage apparatus retains all of its original parts, which will make its refurbishment that much easier for the museum.
"Even though it's in various stages of decomposition, it's all there," says Fire Museum Vice President Fire Captain Joe Woyjeck. "If we can't restore a part or find a replacement, we'll make it from scratch, even if we have to recast it in bronze or aluminum."
This project began three years ago when Museum President, Fire Captain Paul Schneider, received a phone call from a local car enthusiast who said he saw the engine for sale on an online classifieds list and recognized it as one of our own. Schneider sent the photos to Fire Fighter Specialist Matt Winters, a Department history buff, who was able to identify it as former Engine 7 from its marking "FD-61." Schneider and Woyjeck next contacted the seller, who was a motor collector and had purchased the engine for its powerful Hall-Scott gas engine. After some negotiations, the owner agreed to sell it to the Museum for the same price he purchased it, as well as transportation costs of three thousand dollars.
"We weren't in a huge rush to get it since we were limited on space," says Schneider. "We knew it was safe so we waited." Finally, a couple months ago space became available in the Museum and Woyjeck traveled up the California coast to the town of Agwin, just north of Napa, to retrieve Engine 7, which had been sitting in the owner's barn. With the help of a local truck company, Woyjeck safely transported Engine 7 to the Fire Museum in Bellflower.
Though the story of how Engine 7 ended up in Napa after it was retired in the 1970s has yet to be discovered, it now happily rests back home with our other vintage engines at the Fire Museum, awaiting restoration. "While we do know it originated in West Hollywood, we don't have that much history on it yet, but we're working on it now," says Woyjeck. If you have any information on Engine 7's history, or would like to make a donation towards its restoration, you can contact Woyjeck at firstname.lastname@example.org or (562) 547-8919. To visit Engine 7 in person, visit www.lacountyfiremuseum.org for directions and museum operation hours.