Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Hall of Flame Museum, Part 3

The Button Manufacturing Company built this hand-drawn pumper in 1855 for New London, CT. It required a team of 50 men to pull it to a fire then operate the pump handles. It could pump some 200 gallons of water per minute. Curiously, the pump handles were also called "pump brakes" due to the fact the same mechanism was used for braking when the rig was being transported to the scene of a fire.

I found the details of construction interesting — note the curved copper pipes from the tank to hose connectors at the front.

Next up is a Pitsch Horse-Drawn City Service Ladder Wagon from 1908 which was designed to hold a variety of ladders — the exact selection dependent on what type of building was burning. For instance, taller buildings required taller extension ladders while residential neighborhoods only required shorter ladders.

Here is a different type of bell to warn people that the fire engine was on its way to a fire.

The teamster who controlled the horses would ring this bell by repeatedly stomping on the spring-loaded pedal in the floor of the cab.

Here is another example of the meticulous paint job that firefighters used on the fire engines — in this case on the wooden wheels.

When I saw this wagon, I said to myself,
"Here's one for Disneyland". Actually, I was not far off — it is a Gleason & Bailey Hand-Drawn Parade Carriage from 1889. In the early years of organized fire departments, beginning about 1807 the hoses were made of leather. Unfortunately, they were relatively expensive and only the richest companies could afford to organize a hose company.

Around 1870, inexpensive cotton and canvas hoses began replacing leather. Practical but plain hose carts became the norm.

This elaborate carriage was used only for parades and ceremonial occasions.

This closeup of the carriage light shows the elaborate detailing employed for the "show" part of the job.

In addition to the elaborate lanterns, these vases were just for decoration — I cannot think of a practical use, even if these carriages had been used for real firefighting. Looks good though!

The working hose carriages such as this 1865 model from W.W. Wunder were much plainer than the previous model but obviously much more practical. It could carry up to 500 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose. Even though it was sturdy enough to do the job, it also was nicely decorated.

Next up is a Buckley & Merritt Hand-Drawn Parade Carriage — another one that would do Disneyland proud.

It was built in 1870 for the Hotchkiss Hose Company of Derby, CT.

It was pulled by hand by a team of firefighters for parades — the beauty of the carriage was a symbol of pride for both the firefighters and the community.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com