Hall of Flame

Museum of Firefighting


Motorized Apparatus


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The listing below contains information on seven of the museum's major holdings of motorized apparatus.  Return to the listing of all motorized pieces by clicking Here.


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American La France
American La France Type 12 Fire Engine. 1924 Triple comb.  Ex - Oshkosh, WI.  


This engine marks the beginning of the Hall of Flame.  Museum Founder George F. Getz, Jr. received it as a Christmas present in 1955 from his wife, Olive and his son Bert.  He had expressed a casual interest a few months earlier to own a vintage fire engine for giving rides to children at their Lake Geneva, Wisconsin home.  Mr. Getz used the truck to provide rides.  It still runs very smoothly. He soon became an enthusiastic collector of fire apparatus and memorabilia.  He began the National Historical Fire Foundation, which supports the Hall of Flame.  Today the Hall is the nationís largest firefighting museum. Mr. Getz died in 1992. His grandson, also named George, is now the museumís president.

Called "No. 1" because it was the first object in the collection, the pumper was used by the fire department of Oshkosh, Wisconsin until the 1950s.  Sometime during its career it was repainted, its chemical tank was replaced with a water tank, and its hard rubber tires were replaced by pneumatic tires. At the request of Mr. Getz, the rig was restored in 1991 by Don Hale to its 1955 appearance rather than its appearance when it was shipped by American La France in 1924. 

American La France was the nationís largest maker of custom apparatus in the 1920s, and the Type 12 was probably its most popular model with city fire departments.  It used a 1,000 gallon per minute rotary gear pump driven by a six cylinder engine that generated well over 100 horsepower and a considerable amount of torque, the twisting power that really defines an engineís capabilities.  American La France built its own engines because commercial truck engines usually lacked the torque and the endurance to drive a stationary 1000 gpm fire pump for hours at a time without overheating or damaging pistons, connecting rods and valves.  In its advertisements La France printed a letter from a fire chief in Alaska who had pumped his Model 12 at a mine fire for three days in freezing temperatures, stopping only to change engine oil and replace broken sections of hose.  His Type 12 drafted water from a murky tailings pond and pumped it over 1,000 feet to the seat of the fire.  A performance of this scope would tax the capability of a modern engine. 


American La France
Type 40 chemical car. Ex - San Bernardino, CA.


The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad bought this ďchemical carĒ as a quick response rig to attack grass fires along the train tracks near its San Bernardino, California yards.  A rig like this is designed to get to a fire in its earliest stages and get its 40 gallons of water (propelled by carbon dioxide gas) into action while the fire is small.  It can also carry over a thousand feet of large diameter 2 Ĺ inch hose, which could be used by another fire engine, or which could be connected to a hydrant.  Apparently there were very few grass fires, since this truck has less than 170 miles on its odometer.  The poor condition of the hard rubber tires resulted from the long hours spent exposed to the California sun. 

The Santa Fe Railroad restored the rig during the 1950s, possibly for advertising, and moved it to Topeka, Kansas. 

Mr. Getz, a long - time board member of the Santa Fe, purchased it in 1970 from the railroad and later donated it to the Hall of Flame. 

American La France and Brockway
Chemical car. Ex - Lookout Mountain, TN.  Three Champion style booster tanks.


The Brockway "Torpedo" light truck was a popular chassis for fire engine makers trying to meet the needs and budgets of small fire departments.  American La France built rigs like this one to provide a quick response vehicle.  It has three chemical tanks with about 150 gallons of water that could be put to immediate use on a fire.  Trucks like this were ideal for couch or car fires, or brush fires. 

This rig was used by the town of Lookout  Mountain, Tennessee.  Later it was sold to the fire department of Opa Locka, Florida, and it went eventually to the Hialeah, Florida Fire Museum.  Mr. Getz purchased it at auction.  It was restored by Don Hale in 1984.

Triple comb. fire engine. Ex - Phoenix, AZ.  1,000 gpm 2 stage pump.


The Phoenix, Arizona, Fire Department ordered this engine in 1921 for a newly built fire station at 4th Avenue and Moreland (now in downtown Phoenix). 

With a 1,000 gpm pump and a huge six cylinder engine, the rig was a powerful addition to the city's inventory of three other engines.  It was  in service until 1950, when it was sold to a collector from New Mexico. 

Museum Founder George F. Getz, Jr. found it in New Mexico and brought it to the museum in 1985.  Don Hale restored it in 1991.

Triple comb. Seagrave Standard fire engine. Ex - Downers Grove, IL




The Seagrave Fire Apparatus Company of Columbus, Ohio built this 750 gallon per minute pumper for the town of  Downers Grove, Illinois. 

Seagrave pioneered the centrifugal pump, now the standard for the world's fire services.  Centrifugals are high speed pumps, well matched to the speed of the internal combustion engine.  Rotary and piston pumps used by other firms were well adapted to low speed steam engines but required large reduction gear boxes to work with gasoline engines. 

Centrifugals had other advantages, including simplicity, ease of maintenance and resistance to damage from gritty water.  Centrifugal pumps could also take advantage of the pressure available from a hydrant.  Most hydrants supplied water at from 40 to 80 pounds per square inch.  An engine with a centrifugal pump started operations with this pressurized water before even engaging the pump.  Engines with rotary or piston pumps did not enjoy this advantage.

By 1940 all but a few American engines were built with centrifugal pumps. 


Seagrave Standard city service ladder truck. Ex - Downers Grove, IL.


Seagrave began as a manufacturer of ladders for Michigan cherry orchards.  This tradition is evident with the eight high quality ladders carried by this truck. 

In 1962 its chemical tanks and hose were replaced by a generator and searchlights.  Originally owned by Urbana, Illinois, it was bought in 1950 by the town of Downers Grove, Illinois.

City Service trucks carried a variety of  ladders and tools.  With a complement of 4 to 12 firemen, truck companies made rescues and salvaged whatever was possible while the engine company attacked the fire with charged hose lines. 

Mack and Holloway
Mack Model AC / Holloway City Service Ladder Truck. Ex - Baltimore, MD.  



The Baltimore Fire Department bought several Mack "Bulldog" trucks from the Army after World War I.  In 1922 the Departmentís Maintenance Shops matched this 1919 Type AC Mack with a Holloway horse drawn ladder/chemical wagon built around 1885. The truck went into service at Ladder Company 24 in 1923 and remained in use until 1952.  As late as 1960 fire departments used escape nets like the one on this truck.  Many firemen injured themselves while trying to make rescues with the net, and many of the people who tried to jump into the nets missed and suffered injury or death.  For these reasons the nets were retired from service.  

Don Hale restored the truck to its original condition in 1989.


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