Hall of Flame
Hand & Horse Drawn Apparatus
The listing below contains information
on nine of the the
museum's major holdings of hand and horse drawn apparatus. Return to the
and Horse Drawn Apparatus Main Page for other pieces of apparatus.
Hand drawn village ladder wagon. Ex - Edgerton, WI
In 1965 we acquired a pair of fine pieces of fire apparatus from the town
of Edgerton, Wisconsin. The first was a 1922 American La France Type
75 fire engine. Don Hale restored this piece in 1990. The
second acquisition from Edgerton was a hand drawn village ladder wagon
which the town had purchased second hand in 1887. Town records did not disclose the
name of the original owner, but did list the rig as having been built in
1880. There was no maker's name on the rig, but it is very similar in
style to Rumsey ladder wagons of the day. Rumsey, a Seneca Falls, New York
maker, was one of the leading manufacturers of hand drawn fire apparatus in the
late 19th century. As with the 1908 Pirsch ladder wagon , Mr. Getz
commissioned a refurbishment of the wagon which left a lot of room for
improvement. The wagon's running gear is made almost entirely of wood
supported by strips of wrought iron. The wheels had a lot of wood
rot. The ladder rack, too, had been clumsily modified sometime during its
life. There was a distinct possibility that the suspension might fail and break
one or more axles.
In the Fall of 2001 we rolled the wagon into Don Hale's
shop for a complete restoration. Don reinforced the suspension, rebuilt
all of the wheels, and re-fashioned the ladder rack to its original
configuration. He then took the paint down to bare wood.
Unfortunately the rig had been stripped to bare wood at an earlier time, so we
had no idea as to the original paint color or decoration. We used
illustrations from Rumsey trade catalogues of the day. We also equipped
the wagon with a compliment of beam style ladders similar to those shown in
trade catalogues. Fortunately we had a compliment of original leather
buckets and helmets and play pipes from the original rig. In August 2002 we
placed the rig back on permanent exhibit in Gallery 1.
Horse drawn city service ladder wagon. Ex -
West Allis, WI
George F. Getz, Jr. founded the Hall of Flame
in 1961. He opened a small exhibit in his home town of Lake Geneva,
Wisconsin in 1964. In 1967 he moved the Hall of Flame to Kenosha,
Wisconsin. While in Kenosha he received a nice addition to the collection
-- a city service ladder wagon once used in West Allis, Wisconsin. It was
built by the Peter Pirsch Fire Apparatus Company in 1908. During the 1920s West
Allis motorized its equipment and donated the ladder wagon to the Wisconsin
State Fair, which displayed it on its fairground. The rig was not well
maintained, and fell into disrepair. Sometime in the 1950s the President
of Peter Pirsch, William Pirsch, purchased the old wagon and stored it on his
company's grounds with the intention of restoring it for advertising
purposes. After meeting Mr. Getz, he decided to donate it, unrestored, to
the Hall of Flame. Mr. Getz had the rig refurbished by a local craftsman
and placed on display, but it was a far cry from its original appearance.
The Hall of Flame moved to Arizona during the 1970s. When its Phoenix
exhibit building opened in 1974, the West Allis wagon went on display.
Over the next twenty years the Hall's restorer, Don Hale, brought dozens of
wheeled pieces back to their original appearance, but never got around to the
ladder wagon. It suffered by comparison to the newly restored
pieces, and finally went into storage because it no longer met the Hall's
standards for exhibit quality.
In 2000 Don finally had the time to do a
restoration. After several months of work, it went back on
exhibit in Gallery One. Don removed all paint and primer and then filled and
sanded the rough metal frame. Using a Pirsch delivery photo of an
identical model ladder wagon that went to Waukegan, Illinois, Don painted ,
striped and gold leafed the wagon. He had to rebuild all four wheels,
which had rotted badly on the Wisconsin Fair Grounds. The rig received a
compliment of ladders which William Pirsch donated to the museum in the
1960s. Don fabricated a new driver's compartment and installed a foot
gong. It was also equipped with lanterns and forcible entry tools
appropriate to the era.
Buckley & Merritt
& Merritt Hand Drawn Parade Carriage.
American. 1870. Ex - Derby, CT
patterned after a working hose carriage, this piece has no purpose beyond
its elegance and beauty.
It was built as a source of pride for the firemen of the Hotchkiss
Hose Company of Derby, Connecticut. Pulled by a team of firemen at parades
and musters, the beautiful carriage boosted morale and promoted the image
of its volunteer company.
Gleason & Bailey
& Bailey Hand Drawn Parade Carriage.
American. 1889. Hand drawn. Ex - Fishkill on Hudson, NY
(Now Beaconsfield, NY).
many years after its invention in 1807, riveted leather hose was an
expensive part of a fire department's inventory.
Only the wealthiest volunteers could afford to organize hose
companies, and they commissioned fire apparatus builders to make elaborate
carriages to carry the hose.
1870 inexpensive cotton and canvas hose was replacing the leather variety,
and practical but plain hose carts were the norm.
Not to be deprived of their beautiful carriages, a number of hose
companies ordered even more highly decorated and extremely expensive
versions of the old carriages, intended only for use in parades or at
ceremonial occasions. Many
modern departments follow this tradition by carefully restoring their old
fire engines for display in parades.
is a great example of such a parade carriage.
The woolen hat manufacturer Lewis Tompkins,
patron of the Fishkill on Hudson,
New York Volunteer Hose Company, bought it for display at parades, musters
and fairs. The New York City
based maker, Gleason & Bailey, also made a popular line of practical
fire apparatus. The carriage was restored by Don Hale.
||W. W. Wunder
Wunder Hose Carriage.
American. Ca. 1865.
The intense competition between hose companies in a city fire
department led them to commission rigs like this, an attractive but
functional carriage with a reel capable of carrying between 300 and 500
feet of 2 ˝
It was sturdy enough to do the job, but lavishly decorated with
nickel plating and mirror siding for the hose reel and tool bins.
The builder was the W.W. Wunder Company of Reading, Pennsylvania,
for the Active Hose Company of Philadelphia.
Retired volunteers probably pulled it in parades for years after
the department became paid and equipped all of its hose companies
with homely but practical horse drawn carts with cotton jacketed hose.
The carriage went into the H. V. Smith collection at the Home Fire
Insurance Company. When that collection was disbanded it went to the FASNY Museum,
operated by the Volunteer Fire Departments of New York State.
In 2007 the Museum sold the carriage to the Hall of Flame.
The rig was restored by Don Hale in 2008 and
Hand Drawn Pumper. American.
The volunteers of Rockland
and Friendship, Maine used this Rumsey
for over 30 years. Its compact design, complete with pump, suction
and discharge hose made it a good choice for volunteers.
Pumping capacity is 40 gallons per minute.
||Dry Chem Chemical Cart
the 1920s several new fire extinguishing agents began to compete with the
simple water-acid units.
Among them was this dry chemical engine, using an inert aluminum
compound propelled by a strong charge of nitrogen gas to smother a fire
and deprive it of oxygen.
Dry chemical extinguishers dominate the present market, since they
are effective on all classes of fire, can not freeze, and cause few
This portable unit was used by
the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin Yacht Club.
||American La France - Foamite
||Hand drawn 40 gallon portable foam fire engine
1920s the Foamite Corporation developed an extinguishing agent using water,
sodium bicarbonate, an aluminum compound, and a patented chemical that
created a foam that worked well to extinguish petroleum fires by covering
the burning materials and depriving them of oxygen. Foamite merged with
American la France in 1926. The new company manufactured a wide line of
portable foam extinguishers. This cart was a popular part of this line.
The cart has
two concentric chambers. One chamber contains a solution of water and
sodium bicarbonate. The other has a solution of water, aluminum sulphate
and the special Foamite chemical. At the fire the stopper of the inner
chamber is lifted and the cart is tipped on its side. The two chambers mix
their contents, generating carbon dioxide gas—used to expel the foam—and a
large quantity of foam.
contains 40 gallons of solution and generates 300 gallons of foam. The
foam is propelled from the 50 foot hose for about 50 feet, and provides
about 3 minutes of foam.
The cart was
used by the Wisconsin Electric Power Company at its Milwaukee division from
1930 until 1967, when it was donated to the Hall of Flame. Modern fire
engines use a similar product called Class B foam because it is useful on
Class B (petroleum) fires.
Extinguisher Mfg. Co.
gallon Hand Drawn Chemical Cart, ex. Yerkes Observatory
During the summer of 2003 Don Hale restored
this chemical cart, once owned by the
Yerkes Observatory, the observatory of the University of Chicago. The cart
was built by the Fire Extinguisher Manufacturing Company of Chicago. FEMCO was
one one of the earliest makers of fire extinguishers. Established in 1866,
It was absorbed into the International Fire Company in 1900. Four years
later this company was itself absorbed by the American La France Fire Engine
The cart's tank has a capacity for thirty gallons of water mixed
with sodium bicarbonate. A stoppered lead bottle of sulfuric acid was
suspended in a basket below the tank's fill port. A basket atop the tank
carried fifty to one hundred feet of 3/4 inch rubber hose, with a small
diameter off/on nozzle. At the fire the cart was upended on the axis
of the axle, causing the stopper to fall out of the acid bottle. The
acid mixed with the soda-water solution and generated carbon dioxide gas,
which propelled the water through the hose onto the fire. Flipping the
tank also caused the hose to fall conveniently to the ground, ready for
Carts of this
type were used in factories and towns all over the United States.
Our cart dates from the period 1880-1900.