The village of East Rochester was founded under the name Despatch in 1897. The name was later changed to East Rochester in 1906. One of the first things the founding fathers of the village did was set up a volunteer fire department, which they did in 1898.
Originally, the equipment used in firefighting was a hand-drawn hose cart and ladder wagon. As the village grew and technology advanced, the department acquired motor vehicles, the first being a Ford Model T truck that was converted to a fire fighting vehicle by the local blacksmith, George Ano. A Marmon ladder truck was soon added to the fleet, again built by the blacksmith.
In 1925, it was decided that the village needed a real fire truck, not a commercial truck converted into one. An order was placed with the American LaFrance Company in Elmira to build the vehicle. At that time, all the fire trucks were hand built to the purchaser’s specifications. This procedure brought the cost of the truck to $12,500 in 1925. Remember, in 1925, you could buy a Ford car for $475.
This truck was in front line service in the village from 1925 to 1958. In 1959, the small hamlet of Fishers had a fire truck on order, but it was not going to be delivered for six to eight months. To hold them over, East Rochester lent them the recently retired truck.
The village forgot about the transaction until a couple of hunters from the village spotted the truck in a field behind the Valentown Museum near Eastview Mall. They contacted the village and had the truck brought back to town.
Your author, Jim Burlingame, bought the truck from the village and began to restore it to its former glory. After two years it looked like the photo. He then proceeded to enter it in car shows and parades in the area where it won many awards. It was also featured on the cover of a national car magazine, “Antique Automobile,” and in a painting by Norman Rockwell.
After many years, Jim donated the truck to the village, where it sits in a special room built just for it in the East Rochester Fire Hall for all to view. It still is brought out for the village Memorial Day and Firemen’s parades every year.