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Evanston’s Fireman’s Park at Simpson Street and Maple Avenue is dedicated to Evanston firefighters who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to the city. Along with a beautiful stone memorial to those firefighters, there is also the original body and frame of retired Evanston Engine Company 25, a 1927 Seagrave fire engine that served the city from 1927 until the early 1960s. Sometime after decommissioning, it was placed at Fireman’s Park as part of the park’s tribute to the City’s bravest.
Although it has received a touch-up or two over the years, it was really beginning to show its age with faded and chipped paint, unreadable lettering and exposed wood.
Knowing the history of the park and the significance of the engine motivated Evanston Fire Explorer, Evanston Township High School graduate and Eagle Scout Erik Lechleitner to make the revitalization of the engine the focus of his Eagle Scout Service Project. Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America program. Since its inception in 1911, only 4% of Scouts have earned this rank. After a very lengthy review process, which includes a service project, the Scout is challenged to demonstrate leadership while performing a project for the benefit of the community.
With financial support from the Evanston Fire Department and Friends of the Fireman’s Park, a community organization, Erik took it upon himself to lead a volunteer effort to restore the engine’s appearance. The work took several days and included sanding several layers of paint and splintered wood along with two coats of new paint and wood sealer as well as brand new lettering and signage.
“I wanted to do this project to honor the history and tradition of the department and what they have done for the community,” Erik said.
Chief Brian Scott stated “The department and the community are so thankful for Erik’s leadership and the great work of his volunteers in helping preserve an important part of EFD history. They did remarkable work.” He added, “Erik really exemplifies the values of both a Fire Explorer and Eagle Scout, which include leadership, teamwork and selflessly serving the community.”