Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Hall of Flame Museum, Part 5

As we continue our stroll through the museum, we note that the fire equipment gets newer — not new, just newer. This Ahrens - Fox Type N Fire Engine dates to 1931. It is a pumper with the massive piston pumps in front of the engine. It had the ability to pump over 600 gallons per minute from a fire hydrant, pond or river with great efficiency.

Chemical carts and engines were the rapid response team for the late 19th century and early 20th century. Prior to a fire, the tank was filled with about 50 gallons of water into which was mixed eight pounds of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). A lead bottle filled with a quart of sulfuric acid was suspended in a cage. Once the cart arrived at the fire, the tank was inverted and sulfuric acid mixed with the soda and water. The chemical reaction created carbon dioxide gas at a pressure of about 100 pounds per square inch. This propelled water from the tank through the hose and onto the fire. The objective was to extinguish the fire early — before the slower large engines might arrive on the scene.

Next up was an American La France Type 75 Triple built in 1921. Originally this engine had a chemical tank but it was replaced by a "booster" tank containing only water. It employed a gravity feed to a small diameter hose to hit the fire early — with a similar objective to the chemical tank — suppress the fire early before it spreads.

Note the solid rubber tires. Pneumatic tires were common on cars and light trucks by 1910 but heavy trucks had to wait until 1920 for reliable pneumatics. Of course it took another ten years before they became common for fire trucks.

Here is an interesting fire engine. The Baltimore Fire Department purchased several Mack "Bulldog" trucks from the US Army following World War I. They married the truck to a Holloway horse-drawn ladder chemical wagon built around 1885. It went into service in 1923 and remained in use until 1952.

Note the escape net attached to the side of this rig. Although the use of such nets would seem like a good idea, many firefighters were injured attempting to catch folks fleeing from an engulfed upper story. Also, many of the jumpers missed the net resulting in serious injury or death. For these reasons the use of nets was eventually discontinued.

This photo shows the chemical tanks on that same Mack/Holloway fire engine. They worked pretty much the same as those pictured earlier.

It was interesting to spot the multiple axes carried on the fire truck. I noticed that they were not secured in a way that would satisfy OSHA today.

Now this looks like a fire engine that any kid would love to ride on. It was built by Seagrave for a new fire station in Phoenix.

This photo was posted on the running board in the previous shot — showing the same fire truck pulling out of its station at 4th Avenue and Moreland Street (which today would be on the route of I10 just west of the Deck Park Tunnel in central Phoenix).

I can see any little kid who is even mildly interested in fire trucks just absolutely loving to turn the handle on this siren and to ring the bell to warn of the approach of the fire trucks.

Here is the serious part of fire fighting — the controls for the pumps to put the right amount of water on the fire.

The last two photos for this week are a real surprise for me. Both are of a Ford/Howe Model T Pumper. Yes, a Model T chassis fitted with a Howe fire pump and booster tank. These were originally built for the US Army in World War I then sold as surplus after the war. This unit saw service until 1956.

Here is the pump engine fitted to that Model T which was paired with a long "squirrel tail" style suction hose which made it easy to obtain water from rivers or ponds without getting too close to a soggy river bank.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

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