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Homewood officials consider new parking limitations to improve public safety

Venerable Engine No. 4 arrives home in Flossmoor 
after receiving extensive renovations on the 
East Coast.
(Photos by Tom Houlihan/H-F Chronicle)

Engine No. 4 returned to Flossmoor Friday after months of restoration on the East Coast.

A semi  tractor-trailer carrying the historic fire truck pulled alongside the Flossmoor station shortly after 9 a.m.

Matt Berk, a fire department captain, started the engine — it’s original equipment and nearly 70 years old — and backed the fire truck down a ramp from the trailer, then into the station’s parking lot.

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Engine No. 4 was back home, and just in time for Monday’s Fourth of July parade. It will be the centerpiece of that event, which starts at 9:30 in the Parker Junior High parking lot.

At the beginning of the year, the fire truck was delivered to a Virginia company that specializes in the restoration of vintage vehicles. Engine No. 4, built by the Mack Truck Company, has been part of the Flossmoor Fire Department since 1947. It was in active service for the next 32 years.

It is believed is one of only a handful of such trucks still in existence in the United States. It may be the only such truck that is still in its original condition, with the same motor, chassis, transmission and axles.

Fire Chief Chris Sewell said the main purpose of this year’s restoration was to get Engine No. 4 into a condition “where it is safe to drive it again.”

That’s been accomplished. The restoration included extensive engine repairs. Power steering has been added. The brakes are much improved. The electrical wiring system – all original – needed extensive renovation. Gauges have been repaired and interior paint and trim have been added.

Sewell has driven the restored truck and is impressed with the results.

“Mechanically, it’s solid,” he said.

Sewell was asked if Engine No. 4 was in good enough shape to go on a fire call.

“Almost,” he said. The water pump has been repaired. A water tank on the truck is still not usable, he said.

“There is still more restoration that needs to be done.” Sewell said. “This will take some more time. But we’re pleased so far.”

Repairs to Engine No. 4 were filmed for a cable television program that regularly shows the restoration of classic vehicles. Sewell has said he is bound by a confidentiality agreement and can’t give any further details on the nature of the program.

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