Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Today we feature a picture of a fire engine in front of a fire station. The photograph was taken in 1911, in York Pennsylvania. I think this is a "pumper truck", which had a steam engine to run the water pump.


  1. heather,,,the man in the upper left looks like hes holdin a fishin pole,,was this pik taken in indiana,,lol,,,

  2. A very fine picture!

    I think, they must have had some kind of "standby" warming with those steam pumps. When the alarm comes, it would be a little late to begin coal shoveling.

  3. If you ever get the opportunity to go to Chicago, you must visit the Chicago Historical Society Museum. They have an excellent exhibit on the Great Chicago Fire, including the one and only fire engine to survive the flames.

    Things were bad for the firefighters. There were high winds spreading the flames and sparks quickly. Buildings in the Loop/downtown were collapsing around them and molten metal flowed from melted cast iron building fronts into the streets. When the roof of the main pumping station collapsed in flames, the hydrants lost pressure, and that was it. The firefighters cut the horses from their harnesses and let them loose. Of course this added to the chaos of the fleeing crowds.

    The walls of the main pumping station survived and the building is still in use pumping water for the now elite North Michigan Avenue area.

    My hat is off to all firefighters who have bravely served to protect us all.

  4. Lady Anne
    A Fresno, when motorized, would be known as a road grader.

    The biggest problem with the steam pumper is that they often caused as many fires as they helped put out. The steam pressure had to be kept up because, as kariav pointed out, if they waited until the alarm came, it would be too late. On the other hand, keeping the steam at full pressure would be wasteful of coal.

    If the alarm came when the pressure was low, a lot of coal would have to be added quickly to speed up pressurization and that produced sparks which were spread liberally by racing through the streets to the established fire.

    Same reason that the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge railroad often has a firecrew follow the tourists up and down the mountain. It's a great trip and highly recommended.

  5. Those are very nice horses. Let's not forget the horses who did their job well. (And the traditional firehouse dog who went along to protect the horses from other dogs in the streets.)

  6. I agree with the previous poster.

    I think that the horses are the most beautiful and interesting feature in this series of photos.

    We still have mounted police in Providence (RI), and the horses are absolutely beautiful.

    Their stables (in Roger Williams Park) are far more elaborate than my home.