Archive for category Historic fire apparatus

Palos Fire Protection District history

This from Mike Summa for #TBT:

For TBT- Palos FPD Engine 6323, a 1985 Pierce Dash 1250/750.
Mike Summa
 
Palos FPD history

Mike Summa photo

And from our archives:

Palos FPD history

Bill Friedrich photo

Palos FPD history

Larry Shapiro photo

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Chicago Fire Department history

Vintage Film – 1969 Chicago Fire Department – Fire Trucks – Cadillac Ambulance – Fire Boat

 

thanks Steve

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Oak Brook Fire Department history

This from Mike Summa for #TBT:

For TBT- Oak Brook Fire Dept. #916.  Photo taken at a fire muster in Downers Grove in the early 1990’s.  And that is all I know.  If anyone can fill in the blanks, please do so.
Mike Summa
Oak Brook FD Engine 916, a custom Peter Pirsch pumper with a 50' Boardman Readi-Tower aerial

Mike Summa photo

And from our archives

Oak Brook FD Engine 912, a custom Peter Pirsch pumper with a 50' Boardman Readi-Tower aerial #larryshapiro

Custom Pirsch engine with 50′ Boardman Readi-Tower aerial. Larry Shapiro photo

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Rosemont Fire Department / Public Safety Department history

This from Larry Shapiro fort #TBT:

Since the site has been highlighting Rosemont apparatus being sold and replaced, here’s a bit of Rosemont FWD history for #TBT

vintage FWD fire engine in Rosemont IL

Larry Shapiro photo

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Munster Fire Department history

This from Mike Summa for #TBT:

For TBT- Munster, Indiana Engine 3, a 1987 Mack/Boyer 1500/750.
Mike Summa
1987 Mack MC/Boyer fire engine

Mike Summa photo

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Vintage Chicago 5-11 Alarm fire + 4 Specials, 4-2-68

From Steve Redick:

5-11 and 4 specials at 7400 S Kostner, April 2, 1968

massive historic fire in Chicago 1968

photographer unknown

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Zion Fire Department history

Found online:

vintage Pirsch fire engine

antique Pirsch fire engine data

thanks Danny

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Park Ridge Fire Department history (more)

Excerpts from the Journal-topics.com:

In nearly 50 years of reminiscing about his hometown of Park Ridge with fellow members of the Park Ridge Historical Society, a favorite topic for Ralph R. Bishop was his adventures with the Lil’ Pirsch fire truck, first bought by the city in 1921.

His father, Ralph E. Bishop, was fire chief when the city bought the pumper, built by Nash. The original chassis turns 100 this year, but by 1932 the department decided it needed to be rebuilt to replace the hard tires and wooden spokes on the wheels, and double the water tank capacity from 250 gallons to 500 gallons. The makeover, by Peter Pirsch & Sons, based in Kenosha, WI, gave it a new name, the Lil’ Pirsch, and an official age based on the 1932 parts.

Ralph and his brother Emmett grew up in a fire department family so he learned to help care for it, to drive it, and to nurse it through fires when service stations were few and far between. He also repaired Model T. Fords.

Eventually, when the Pirsch was ready to retire from active fire service, it was sold to the Drake Funeral Home. People still saw it in local parades, and Bishop often was asked to drive it.

Park Ridge FD 1921 Pirsch fire engine

Park Ridge Historical Society photo

Drake eventually moved it to Memphis, TN. He had offered to sell it to Bishop at the time, but Bishop had had no place to keep it. He tried later to buy it, but the price went up. It ended up owned by the Memphis Fire Department, on display in their museum.

The Park Ridge Historical Society wondered whether Memphis would be willing to sell the pumper back to Park Ridge. For eight years, society archivist Brian Lazzaro and Bishop worked to prove it was the same truck. Bishop still had paperwork to identify the truck including part numbers and photos.

They finally persuaded Memphis to sell the truck to the Historical Society. The purchase price was $20,000, and there will be an estimated $5,000 to $10,000 in restoration repairs to get it running.

Lazzaro and his son drove down last year to bring it back to Illinois on a flatbed truck. One of their first stops when they got back was to visit Des Plaines, where Ralph and his wife Ramona had recently relocated from Park Ridge. Ralph came out with his walker, wearing his mask and a smile on his face. The Pirsch arrived with a Park Ridge flag pinned on the side. It was a nice present for his 93rd birthday.Park Ridge FD restored 1932 Pirsch fire engine

The Bishops donated a lot of memorabilia to the historical society and the fire department archive including a diary of the pumper’s first year in service. 

COVID health restrictions over the 2020 summer shut down most public fundraisers and limited access to the Park Ridge History Center. Despite that stumbling block, the Historical Society has raised about $10,000 online from members, friends, and local businesses at www.parkridgefiretruck.com. Memorials can be designated on the list. Help is still needed. Donations also can be mailed to the PRHS by mail to: 721 N. Prospect Ave., Park Ridge, IL 60068.

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Historic 5-11 alarm fire in Chicago, 4-7-71

From the collection of Steve Redick:

old photos collected from a 5-11 Alarm fire at 1531 Michigan, 4-7-71

vintage Chicago FD Snorkels at fire scene

photographer unknown

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Bloomington FIre Department history … 1928 Ahrens-Fox N-S-4

Excerpts from wsj.com:

former Bloomington IL Fire Department 1928 Ahrens Fox fire engine

Betsy Hansen photo

Bob McMahon, a retired University of Southern Maine economics professor living in the Villages, Fla., talks about his 1928 Ahrens-Fox N-S-4 fire truck.

former Bloomington IL Fire Department 1928 Ahrens Fox fire engine

Betsy Hansen photo

When my wife, Linda, and I retired some years ago, we joined the volunteer fire department in Pownal, Maine. That’s when I got into old firetrucks. I have always loved mechanical things. At one time, I owned a 65-foot steam tugboat. I collected old sawmill machinery for a while, and my wife and I once had five firetrucks. The 1928 Ahrens-Fox, built in Cincinnati, Ohio, is the last of those, and the best.  

I got this one in 2004. Andy Swift, who owns Firefly Restoration in Maine does museum-quality firetruck restorations. I dealt with him on another truck, and one day he called me and said, “I got this truck you should have.” He specializes in Ahrens-Fox trucks, and for some reason he did not want to tackle this project. The truck was missing a lot of parts and it wasn’t running. I bought it, poked at it for a while, and when we moved to Florida, I had it shipped here so I could continue working on it.

Over the years, some 30 different people helped me restore this truck. It is not terribly expensive entertainment because I did most of the work myself, and I can eventually sell it. Today, it runs beautifully and it pumps water. It is an amazing machine. There are really two kinds of old firetrucks, the kind that carry a lot of water because they were intended for rural areas where there were no hydrants, and trucks used in cities and towns that could connect to hydrants. This one is a city truck. It has a four-piston pump cast out of bronze—a beautiful casting—and it was built to pump a thousand gallons a minute.

Ahrens-Fox also built their own engines. This one has a 998 cubic inch six-cylinder, with pistons as big as coffee cans. The engine has huge torque, but I think the truck only gets about 4 miles per gallon.

I was able to ascertain that this was originally owned by the fire department in Bloomington, IL who had it for 30 years. I have driven it in parades, and twice it won the Best In Show award at the Florida Antique Bucket Brigade firetruck. 

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