Lakeland Fire Dept. restores antique fire truck

- A 1938 Pirsch Fire Engine Pumper has been restored to its glory days, thanks to the hard work and dedication of two Lakeland firefighters.

Nicknamed "Leaping Lena," the nearly 80-year-old fire truck was in service for the Lakeland Fire Department until the late 1970s. That's when the truck's engine stopped working. Now it's back, cruising the streets of Lakeland.

"Her condition was basically on blocks," described Lakeland Fire Department maintenance mechanic Jonathan Beale. "One day, we'd get it running, one day."

Beale and Lakeland Fire Department equipment supervisor Matthew Warner spent the past five years getting "Leaping Lena" running again. They've done it all on their own time.

The truck is a piece of history, as it's now the only 1930s Pirsch Pumper still running with its original engine.

"We really wanted to keep the original engine," Beale explained. "It's a piece of history for the city of Lakeland."

A piece of history that you may have a chance of seeing, if you visit Lakeland. The department plans to bring Leaping Lena out to public events, like the downtown Lakeland Christmas Parade.

"To have an antique that's so unique and so rare [be] a part of the history of the fire department; it's not an engine that came from somewhere else. It's part of the city of Lakeland," said Warner.

The two firefighters said the truck needed to be repaired from top to bottom, with the engine and brakes as the biggest fixes.

When not in use, Leaping Lena is stored at Fire Station 4 on Brunnell Pkwy. in Lakeland.

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