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.


Page 4


Quad fire engine ex - River Forest, IL. 

This rig was built for the village of River Forest, Illinois.  Fox called it a "Quad" because it had four capabilities: a large (1000 gpm) pump; a 100 gallon water storage tank and small diameter "booster" hose for quick attack; over 200 linear feet of ground ladders; and storage for over 1000 feet of large diameter hose. Standard fire engines were typically "Triples"- they lacked the ability to carry more than a pair of small ladders.  Quads supposedly filled the need for a ladder truck and an engine -  able to attack a fire with its pump and to provide ladders for rescue and ventilation.  

In practice quads proved to be good pumpers but mediocre to poor ladder trucks. This "Quad" served River Forest well until the 1960s, when the town donated the piece to the Hall of Flame.  

Since the 1970s the Quad has carried the directors of the Fiesta Bowl in its annual parade through downtown Phoenix.  It was restored to its original condition in 1993 by Don Hale.  


Model N fire engine. Ex - North Tarrytown, NY.   



Don Hale restored this large piston pumper to its original condition in 1990.  It served for almost twenty five years with the Rescue Hose Volunteer Fire Company of North Tarrytown, New York.  

Ahrens-Fox fire engines were highly regarded by firefighters.  Their massive piston pumps could draft water from ponds or rivers with great efficiency - a handy capability for towns and cities with harbors or riverfronts.  The engine could pump over 600 gpm at pressures approaching 400 psi.  This made it popular with cities with high rise buildings that required powerful pumps to move water to heights of over 700 feet to supply a fire department connection. Rated capacity at normal pressure of 150 psi was 1,000 gpm.  Top speed was close to 40 mph. 

This engine also has a foam dispenser that allows it to generate Class B foam for use on petroleum fires.   


American La France
Type 400 Senior fire engine. Ex - Norfolk, NE.. Donated by Mr. Bernie Lowe.





The town of Norfolk, Nebraska used this engine from 1935 until the 1960s.  It was American La France’s largest engine, with a mighty V-12 engine capable of generating almost 250 horsepower.  Top speed is over 60 miles per hour. Its 1250 gpm rotary pump sits directly behind the engine, resulting in a majestic hood reminiscent of the large touring automobiles of the 1930s.  

Only about 170 Model 400s were built between 1933 and 1938.  Few departments could afford  the pricey trucks. 

Norfolk had its fire engine painted white.  Many  towns copied the paint styles of nearby large cities.  Denver, Colorado painted its rigs white, and many towns in Colorado and Nebraska followed suit.  This engine was donated to the museum by  Mr. Bernard Lowe.  It was restored by Don Hale.


Pirsch "All-Power" Aerial. 1937. Ex - Kenosha, WI.  



The Pirsch Fire Apparatus Company of Kenosha, Wisconsin was one of America's premier builders of fire equipment. Together with Mack, in 1931 Pirsch introduced the first aerial truck to use hydraulic and mechanical power to raise, extend, and turn its aerial ladder. 

Until its introduction, aerial trucks used the “spring assist” design  or  relied on an unwieldy system built around compressed air or water pressure from a hydrant. 

The introduction of hydraulic pumps to lift the aerial into position was one of the most important innovations in fire fighting technology.  The modern American fire service uses hydraulic pumps to power its aerial ladders, tower ladders, squirt units, outriggers, searchlight towers, and a wide variety of other devices.

This truck, built in 1937 for  Pirsch's home town, uses a mixture of hydraulic and mechanical equipment to operate its 85 foot ladder.  The ladder is made from single lengths of clear grained Douglas Fir from the forests of western Oregon.  Wood of this quality was very difficult to obtain, but was critical to the strength and durability of the ladder.  Steel rods spanning vertical posts provide  trusses to provide additional strength and rigidity.  

The “stick” and its trusses can be compared to a bridge that is raised into the air instead of spanning a stream or gulley. Like many aerials, this one also has a "Ladder Pipe" mounted at the ladder's tip to play water on a fire.

The paint and decorations are original.  It is rare for a piece of apparatus to survive in such excellent condition after 30 years of active service in a large town in a cold, wet area where road salt is used.


Junior aerial truck. ex - Staunton, VA.  





The town of Staunton, Virginia maintained this rig in its original condition.  It was a very advanced design — America’s first entirely hydraulically powered aerial with a metal ladder and hydraulic outriggers.  It also had Seagrave's powerful 250 horsepower V-12 engine. 

It's 80 gallon booster tank with a small pump gave it some quick response capability at a fire.

Like the 1937 Pirsch aerial, this rig has survived with its original paint and decoration.  The only refurbishment  by the Hall of Flame was the re-upholstery of its driver / officer seat. 


Ford / Howe
Triple comb. fire engine. ex - Sierra Vista, AZ



Howe Fire Apparatus built over 400 of these 500 gpm rigs on Ford chassis for the U.S. Navy in World War II.  After the War it was sold as surplus to the small town of Sierra Vista, in the Fry Fire District of southeast Arizona.  There it served for many years. 

Its high road clearance convinced the Sierra Vista FD to make it into a  tanker truck, and they put a 500 gallon water tank in the hose bed to supplement its original 80 gallon tank.  Apparently its original flat head V-8 could not handle an additional two tons of weight, so it was replaced with an engine from a 1963 Ford Thunderbird.  It was donated to the Hall of Flame in 1987 and refurbished by Don Hale a few years later. Its single stage Waterous centrifugal pump still puts out a good stream of water.


Ford / Pirsch
Triple comb. fire engine. Ex - Slinger, WI





Rural communities purchased rigs like this for  use by their fire departments.  Built on a Ford chassis with the famous “flat head” V-8 engine, with a hose bed, booster tank and pump by the Pirsch Fire Apparatus Company,  the rig was both capable and affordable.  It could be repaired at any Ford dealership and could easily be driven by anybody who could drive an automobile.  

Its 500 gpm rotary pump, 600 feet of large diameter hose, and 100 feet of booster hose for quick attack gave it about one half of the capabilities of a first line American La France or Seagrave, but it was adequate for most fires. 

During the Great Depression many large departments bought rigs like this to supplement their first line engines, which were too expensive to replace.  Similar rigs were built by many manufacturers on a wide variety of chassis by Studebaker, Chevrolet, Dodge, International, REO, Brockway, and other truck makers.  

This rig served the town of Slinger, Wisconsin from 1935 until the early 1960s, when it was donated to the Hall of Flame by the Slinger Fire Department.  It was restored by Don Hale in 2002.  


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