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Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Hall of Flame Museum, Part 6

Next up is a 1935 American La France Type 400 Fire Engine purchased by the town of Norfolk, Nebraska and was in service from 1935 until the 1960s. It had the company's largest engine — a mighty V-12 capable of generating almost 250 horsepower. Its top speed was over 60 miles per hour. Note the pump situated behind the engine resulting an appearance similar to the large touring automobiles of the 1930s.

Many towns copied the paint styles of nearby large cities. Denver painted its rigs white and many towns in Colorado and Nebraska copied that practice.

This rotary pump was capable of pushing 1250 gallons per minute. Only 170 or so Model 400s were built — few fire departments could afford such expensive trucks.

This interesting item is a Bayley's Escape Ladder used in England and the British Commonwealth until about 1970. This one was mounted on a truck — see the next photo for a model of that arrangement.

Escape Ladders first appeared in London in the 1820s. The earliest versions were pulled by volunteers but by the 1860s, paid fire brigades added them to their equipment but drawn by horses rather than firefighters. This particular escape ladder was used until about 1950.

Four men could handle one with ease. A similar size American "Bangor" extension ladder was much more difficult to maneuver and required a crew of six.

This is a model of the previous escape ladder mounted on a truck.

Next on display is a Merryweather Fire Engine built around 1915. Merryweather was one of England's oldest manufacturers of high quality fire equipment dating back into the 18th century. It appears that Merryweather and Sons is still in business although their product mix seems to now focus on manufacture and servicing of fire extinguishers.

This particular fire engine was sold to the city of Lima, Peru in 1920. The original hard rubber tires were replaced by pneumatics but little else was changed. It is interesting to note that English fire equipment was very popular with South American countries.

This American La France Type 12 fire engine has a special significance for the Hall of Flame Museum because it was the first item acquired. George F. Getz, who founded the museum, received it as a Christmas gift in 1955 from his wife, Olive. He had expressed a casual interest in owning a vintage fire engine for giving rides to kids at their home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The vehicle still runs smoothly.

Mr. Getz became an enthusiastic collector of fire equipment and memorabilia. He founded the National Historical Fire Foundation which supports the Hall of Flame Museum. Mr. Getz's grandson is now the president of the museum.

This is a second American La France Senior 400 owned by the museum and both were restored by Bernie Lowe. The first one is shown in the first three photos of today's issue — that unit is painted white in contrast to this red beauty.

Most fire historians regard this model as the most attractive of American Fire engines. Less than 200 were built — they were too expensive for Depression Era fire departments.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

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