Late 1800s Hand-Drawn Hose Reel Cart Late 1800s Hand

Late 1800s
Hose Reel Cart
Hoses were bulky and heavy so
transport to the fire was
difficult. The use of large reels of
hose on wheeled carriages and
pulled by hand were a genuine
on loan from
Fire Museum
Hose carts used wheels of
different widths, depending
on the surface they were
used on: narrow wheels for
hard surfaces like city
streets; wide wheels for soft
surfaces like dirt or grass.
Hose carts like this one were small enough that they
could be pulled to a fire by a group of men.
Horse-drawn carts came into greater use as the
amounts of hose and other equipment needed
required a larger firefighting vehicle.
The most basic problem in
firefighting has always been the
difficulty in transporting water to
the location of a fire.
Hand-carried leather buckets
were commonly used in colonial
times. But by the mid-1800s, hoses
improved the situation as
pumping devices became more
common and allowed greater and
more consistent water supply.
sophisticated hose carts
had mounted bells that
were struck as the wheels
rotated, thereby providing
an audible warning to
people and vehicles on the
street to move out of the
way - an early siren!
Ladder Truck
Numerous communities in the
1800s were destroyed by fire and
residents became determined to
provide additional fire fighting
to help protect their homes and
on loan from
Fire Museum
Ladder trucks usually
carried other equipment
besides ladders, such as
buckets for water or sand,
hooks on poles to pull
down burning material, and
other tools to fight the fire.
Concerned citizens were encouraged to serve as
volunteer firefighters. Unfortunately, the cost of
dedicated fire fighting apparatus was a challenge for
many smaller towns and villages.
Small, hand-pulled ladder trucks such as this one
were often the first step many communities could
take. With residents living
Fire has always been a threat
but this was especially true as
proximity, news of a fire
communities became denser in
could be passed quickly
the 19th century, but used wood
construction and open fires for
cooking and heating. Oil lamps
gather to pull a ladder truck
and candles added to the
potential threat of fire as well.
to the fire.
Ladder Wagon
Built by W.T.Y. Schenck of San
Francisco, this wagon carried
the longer ladders needed to
fight fires in taller buildings.
on loan from
Fire Museum
Most communities had
wells throughout the area
or sometimes cisterns for
water storage. A cistern is a
tank, often similar to a
wood barrel, sunk into the
ground. Water would be
obtained either by dipping
buckets or using a hose
attached to a pump.
In the days before underground
water supplies and fire hydrants
on almost every block, getting
water to the fire was a challenge. Since pumping units
were expensive, it was common for firefighting
equipment to have a supply of buckets - such as on
this wagon - to bring water to the fire.
In the late 1800s, many fire fighting vehicles were hand-drawn
by the firefighters themselves
rather than by horses. For communities with volunteer firefighters, it was simply faster to
pull the wagon to the fire instead
of taking time to get horses and
hitch them to the wagon.
The firefighters and other
citizens would form a
“bucket brigade” where a
line of people would pass
buckets of water toward the
fire and send empty
buckets back to be refilled.
Seagrave Horse-Drawn
Hose Wagon
on loan from
The Gold Rush
Fire Brigade
Wagons of this type carried some
800 feet of fire hose, usually a
woven cloth sleeve with a
rubberized interior lining that
was more flexible and able to
handle more pressure than
earlier types.
As cities grew with taller
buildings, the need for more
hose to fight fires was
apparent. Larger
horse-drawn wagons
quickly replaced the smaller
hand-drawn hose carts.
The hose wagons would work with a separate pumping
engine (a hand-operated or steam-powered pump) to
draw water from a nearby source and then deliver the
water to the site of the fire.
While some communities had full-time paid firefighters
and stations, many still depended on volunteer fire
companies. And when
On the sides of this wagon are
horses were not on standby,
long poles with a curved hook at
it was common for the
one end. Those poles were used
firefighters to commandeer
to pull down burning material to
allow better access for the
the nearest horse to pull the
hose wagon to the fire.
American LaFrance
Pumper Truck
on loan from
Fire Museum
American LaFrance was probably
one of the best known and
well-respected builders of fire
trucks from 1903-2014. This
particular truck was purchased in
1921 by the city of Dixon as their
first motorized pumper truck.
American LaFrance
built a wide variety of
trucks, including
pumpers, ladder trucks,
and other emergency
vehicles utilizing a
number of engines from
other suppliers.
A disastrous 1920 hotel fire proved that the pressure
from the hydrants were insufficient to battle the
blaze. The community rallied together to raise funds
to purchase the truck.
Pumper trucks are probably
the type of fire truck that most
people think of. Pumper
trucks are properly referred to
as fire engines since they can
carry and pump water onto a
fire PLUS carry other fire
fighting equipment such as
ladders, hose, and other tools.
The truck gained the
nickname of the “C.P.
Huntington”. That was the
most powerful locomotive at
the time and the people of
Dixon hoped that the truck
would be a powerful pumper
as well.
Graham “Mason”
Chemical Truck
Chemical fire fighting dates to
containing bicarbonate of soda
and sulfuric acid. When
generates pressure and a foamy
liquid that can be sprayed onto
a fire.
on loan from
Wally Clark of
Roseville Shriners
The Graham brothers built
trucks from 1916 to 1928
when they signed an
agreement with Dodge
Brothers to build Graham
trucks sold through Dodge
dealers. By 1929, Graham
had been totally taken over
by Dodge.
Chemical engines began as hand-drawn carts, then
horse-drawn, and, by the early 1900s, motorized
vehicles such as this 1921 Graham.
This particular Graham chemical fire
truck was originally in service in
Watkins Glen, New York. Purchased in
1955 by famed collector William Harrah,
the truck was sold in 1966 to the
Roseville Shriners. Restored locally, the
truck is a well-known participant in
many local events and parades.
were often kept at
stations and used
against fires until
larger trucks with
pumps and hoses
Chemical Truck
Different from the typical fire
engine that most people think
of, a chemical truck had tanks
in the back where soda-acid
could be added to water to
suppress the fire.
on loan from
Fire Museum
This truck was
originally housed in
downtown Sacramento
in a residential area.
The original fire house
building on C Street still
exists today.
Chemical trucks were common in the more
suburban or residential areas of California in the
first few decades of the 20th century.
The REO Motor Car Company was founded in 1905
by Ransom E. Olds. Previous to
This truck, as well as
others in the display,
Oldsmobile. During the Great
had a frame-off
restoration by the
Pioneer Mutual Hook
production on automobiles to
and Ladder Society,
focus on producing trucks only.
which operates the
Sacramento Fire
REO produced their last trucks
in the 1970s.
Pumping Truck
This 1924 Seagrave was
originally configured as a
chemical engine, but was
rebuilt as a motorized pumper
after a severe accident that
required a total rebuild. The
engine saw service for many
years here in Sacramento.
on loan from
Fire Museum
One of the most respected
builders of fire apparatus was
the Seagrave Company,
founded by Frederick S.
Seagrave in 1881 in Michigan.
Seagrave moved to Columbus,
Ohio in 1891 and was soon
building aerial ladders and
firefighting vehicles by 1907.
The truck is powered by a six-cylinder, T-head engine
producing 130 horsepower. The truck carries 1000 feet
of fire hose, a 40 gallon chemical tank, and 400 feet of
chemical hose.
An engine of this type would
have cost over $11,000 in 1924,
a very expensive vehicle!
Note the truck has right-hand
drive and the pump controls
are on the right side as well.
The mechanical pump can
provide some 500+ gallons
per minute of water, drawn
through the large diameter
hoses carried on the sides of
the engine.
Ford Model AA
Rail Fire Truck
The Ford Model AA truck was
the heavy-duty version of the
Model A truck. Sold with the
four-cylinder engine, the Model
AA was available with just a cab
and chassis allowing for custom
rear bodywork.
on loan from
California State
Railroad Museum
After almost a half
century of service, the fire
truck was retired and, in
1980, was donated to the
California State Railroad
Museum by the Southern
Pacific Railroad, owners of
the San Diego & Arizona
Eastern Railway.
In 1933, this vehicle was modified to have railroad
wheels, allowing it to travel along the San Diego &
Arizona Eastern Railway.
A group of dedicated
volunteers at the
California State Railroad
Museum restored the
Model AA fire truck,
where it is displayed as
part of their wonderful
collection, in fully
operational condition.
Based near the Mexican border,
the truck fought fires that
threatened the railroad’s wooden
tunnels. Refilling from trackside
water tanks, the truck was able
to quickly respond to fires in
isolated areas of the tracks.
GMC / Van Pelt
CDF Crew Truck
Forestry ordered 24 eight-man
fire crew trucks from the P.E.
Van Pelt Company of Oakdale,
on loan from
Jim & Don
In 1940, pickup and other
trucks were not available with
the extended cab seating
found in modern trucks, so
benches were built into the
rear bodywork to carry some
of the eight-man crew.
Van Pelt’s fire equipment was built on 1940 GMC 1 1/2
ton pickup trucks with dual rear wheels. The
six-cylinder engine provided 90 horsepower, and was
fitted with a four-speed transmission and two-speed
rear axle.
The equipment carried by this truck
included: A front-mounted Barton
pump with a 250 gallons/minute
capacity; a steel water tank carrying
280 gallons; 150 feet of reel hose; 500
feet of cotton hose; 24 feet of 3-inch
suction hose; and hand tools to equip
eight men.
Trucks like this one
often had to operate in
remote areas so needed
to carry a variety of
White / Van Pelt
Pumper Truck
In service in West Sacramento
until the early 1970s, this fire
truck has a typical combination
of chassis and engine from one
company (White) and bodywork
and fire-fighting equipment from
another (Van Pelt).
on loan from
Fire Museum
The body and firefighting
equipment on this truck was
made by the P.E.Van Pelt
company of nearby Oakdale,
CA. They were a major
manufacturer of fire-fighting
apparatus from the 1920s
through the 1990s. Van Pelt
built a wide variety of truck
types using the chassis from
several manufacturers.
This pumper truck carries a wide
variety of fire-fighting equipment including hoses,
ladders, and its own water supply. The powerful
front-mounted pump and large, rigid hoses allowed the
truck to draw water from nearby sources.
The truck chassis is a
1948 White powered by
their six-cylinder,
L-head, 125 HP engine.
During their heyday, approximately 10% of all
commercial trucks in the
U.S. were White trucks.
Front-mounted pumps were less
expensive and more popular with
smaller communities than built-in
pumps. The hand controls on the
radiator shell allowed control of
the main engine while using the
on loan from
Fire Museum
Early ambulances were often built
on modified car chassis. Makes
such as Packard, Lincoln, Pontiac,
Buick, and Ford were the basis for
ambulance use.
Technical Specs Engine: I-8, OHV, 268
cu. in. 122 HP.
Three-speed manual
with the option of a
four-speed Hydramatic.
Brakes: Servo-assisted
hydraulic drums.
Several companies built dedicated
ambulance bodies for car chassis,
but were usually quite expensive. It was common for
ambulances to be modified station wagons instead,
taking advantage of their extra space.
Ambulances are vehicles
designed to transport people
with illness or injury to a
hospital or location where they
can receive medical care.
Generally designed to transport
one or two patients,
ambulances have equipment
and supplies to provide initial
medical care while enroute.
This vehicle is one of those
modified station wagons,
emergency lights, removal
of the second seat, and
other modifications. This
vehicle served for many
years in Citrus Heights, CA.
Ask any docent
in the Museum!
They can help you
climb on this
1921 Graham.
Thank you Wally Clark
and the Sacramento
Shriners for letting our
visitors experience this!
Please do
not go on
it by