Posts Tagged Bill Post

A Commentary: CFD apparatus history – part 3 of 3

Part 3 of a commentary by Bill Post on the Chicago Fire Department history: Part 1 can be found HERE and Part 2 can be found HERE.

While Fire Commissioner Quinn did put the six Flying Manpower Squads in service, he (understandably) decided to keep Snorkel Squad 1 in service. Instead, Snorkel 2 was taken out of service and less then a year before the Maatman Report recommendations were implemented, five additional salvage squads were put in service.  When the Flying Manpower Squads were put in service during 1969, Salvage Squad 1 (the squad that the consultant wanted retained) was taken out of service on May 1, 1969. That was the day that Flying Manpower Squad 4 was put in service; in fact they went in service using Salvage Squad 1’s 1954 AutoCar Squad.
Rescue 3 (the remnants of Snorkel Squad 3) also went out of service on that day. While the 1968 Maatman report was released in November of 1968 and the recommended six Flying Manpower Squads were all in service by November of 1969, Fire Commissioner Bob Quinn hadn’t acted to take Snorkel 6 out of service and he hadn’t even moved Snorkel 4 from Engine 25 to Engine 67. The south side still had more then one Snorkel assigned to it despite Snorkel 2 going out of service in February of 1969.
On March 9, 1970, Truck 31 was relocated out of Engine 104’s south loop fire station to a new station on the far southwest side. Snorkel 4 was relocated from Engine 25 to Engine 104 on the same day. On July 7, 1970, the brick wall of a multi-story vacant factory (in the 1700 block of north Ashland Avenue) collapsed on Snorkel 7 as they were pouring water on the smoldering ruins from a 5-11 alarm fire the previous day. Snorkel 7 was a total loss, and Firefighter Jack Walsh eventually succumbed to injuries sustained during the collapse. Snorkel 7 was never replaced and Snorkel 5 was the remaining Snorkel on the north side of Chicago.
Several months later, early in 1971, the fire department’s consultant Gerald Maatman released a follow-up progress report and review of the fire department’s compliance with the 1968 report. While many of the recommendations contained in the 1968 report had been followed, a few items had not been administered. Since Fire Commissioner Quinn had opted to keep Snorkel Squad 1 in service and instead took Snorkel 2 and Salvage Squad 1 out of service, the consultant recommended that Snorkel Squad 1 be relocated to Engine 5’s house.
Snorkel Squad 1 wasn’t relocated and stayed at 1044 N. Orleans despite the recommendation. So Commissioner Quinn not only kept Snorkel Squad 1 in service, but he kept it in the original location (as long as he was the fire commissioner). The 1971 Maatman report did recommend that a 7th Flying Manpower Squad be put in service at Engine 108’s quarters on the far northwest side. Flying Manpower Squad 5 (as it would be known) was supposed to cover the far northwest side from Engine 7 and Truck 58’s house. It was never located there but instead had been put in service at Engine 114’s old station at Fullerton and Central Park. This was really too far southeast to adequately cover the far northwest side.
Chicago’s Flying Manpower Squads were all using old pumpers from the 1950s and late 1940s, and really weren’t carrying much squad-type equipment as was recommended in the 1968 report. The consultant had made specific recommendations as to exactly the types of and amounts of equipment that the Flying Manpower Squads should be carrying and had even included general specifications as to what type of apparatus they should be using.
There were still six Salvage Squads that were in service and the consultant had recommended that Salvage Squads 6 and 7 be taken out of service as they were in areas that were normally covered by the Flying Squads, which was redundant.
Last but not least, two truck companies (43 and 46) that had been recommended in the previous reports to be taken out of service were still active. The space that these were occupying had been recommended in 1968 to have Snorkel companies. Once again, it was recommend that these two trucks be taken out of service.
Snorkel 4 was supposed to be relocated to Engine 67 (Truck 46) and Snorkel 7 was supposed to have been relocated to Engine 110 (Truck 43) along with Flying Squad 6. Snorkel 4 couldn’t be relocated as long as those two trucks were in service. On November 16, 1971, Trucks 46 and 43 were finally taken out of service and Snorkel 6 was relocated from Engine 46 on the southeast side to Engine 110 on the north side. Snorkel 6 was originally recommended to be taken out of service, but since Snorkel 7 was destroyed in July of 1970, Snorkel 6 was relocated instead.
Snorkel 4 wasn’t relocated to Engine 67 until June of 1972 however. After June of 1972, not only was Snorkel 3 the only Snorkel left on the south side, but Snorkel 4, which had been in the south loop and was second-due on the south side, was now much further away since they were now on the far west side. It was ironic that now there were two Snorkels on the north side, one on the west side, and only one on the south side. There were no Snorkels downtown, unless you counted Snorkel Squad 1 with their 50-foot Snorkel on the near north side. To be fair about it, Snorkel 5 was located in a high fire frequency area back then and Snorkel 6 was also just west of a high fire frequency zone.
Since the south side was so far away from a second Snorkel company, Snorkel 5 was automatically relocated to Snorkel 3 on a Still and Box Alarm when Snorkel 3 was due on it. Snorkel 5 wasn’t relocated to Engine 5 (from Engine 57) until about two and a half years later in January of 1975. This at least brought them closer to the south side by putting them in the west loop. Two years later in 1977, Snorkel 5 was once again relocated, this time to the west side at Engine 23’s house. It wasn’t until April of 1981 that the south side had regained a second Snorkel. The new Snorkel 4 (using Snorkel Squad 1’s 1975 Hendrickson Pierce 55-foot Snorkel) was put in service at Engine 123’s station.
One month later, Snorkel 3 was renumbered as Snorkel 5 (to match the new fire district that it was assigned to) and was relocated to Engine 72’s station. In May of 1981, each Snorkel was renumbered and relocated to match each of the five new fire districts where they located. The new districts had replaced the seven old fire divisions on April 11,1981. Snorkel 5 became Snorkel 1, Snorkel 4 became Snorkel 2, Snorkel 6 became Snorkel 3, Snorkel 4 was a new company, and Snorkel 3 become Snorkel 5. Snorkel Squad 1 had been taken out of service on Oct 3, 1980.
So Mike, Commissioner Quinn had literally saved Snorkel Squad 1 and kept them from going out of service in 1969, and he did delay relocating some of the other Snorkels, but after Snorkel 7 was destroyed he had to relocate Snorkel 6 to the north side. Once again the city didn’t want to hire more firefighters to properly staff all of the fire companies after 1967, so Gerald Maatman the consultant was told to find a way to run the fire department on the same budget without having to hire more men.
Some of his recommendations were good which included adding useful equipment like K-12 saws and ladder pipes to trucks, and multi-versals to engines. He also recommended that air masks be put on the engines and trucks, which the CFD was extremely slow in doing. This didn’t really occur until the late 1970s and early 1980s. On some of the basic concepts, the CFD was way behind other fire departments.
Most of the new fire stations that were built in the 1970s were due to recommendations of the report. Engine 70 and Truck 47’s new house was recommended by Maatman in 1968. If the city would have been willing to hire more firefighters, then the report wouldn’t have had to organize four-man company districts and recommend that special companies be cut. By the way, did you know that in 1968, the last full year that Snorkel Squad 3 and Snorkel Squad 2 were in service, they were the busiest companies in Chicago. Snorkel Squad 3 had 5,952 incidents and Snorkel Squad 2 had gone out on 5,117 runs.
This wasn’t bad when you consider that Snorkel Squad 3 hadn’t been running with a Snorkel since January of 1967 and Snorkel Squad 2 had also stopped running with a Snorkel by mid 1968. In those years, all the styles of squads that Chicago had been running with were automatically dispatched to still alarms with the engines and trucks. They didn’t wait for a confirmation of a working fire, so there were an awful lot of “hold the squad” messages and squad turn backs.
As the Snorkel Squads were the only rigs with the K-12 saws, multi-versals, and back mounted air masks, you would have all three of the Snorkel Squads respond on the same 2-11 alarms citywide. In 1967 and 1968 they first started putting power saws on the truck companies and multi-versals on the engines, so there was less of a dependence on the Snorkel Squads for that basic type of equipment. Air masks weren’t put on engines and trucks until the latter half of the 1970s.

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A Commentary: CFD apparatus history – part 2 of 3

Part 2 of a commentary by Bill Post on the Chicago Fire Department history: Part 1 can be found HERE.

Mike, I too felt that it was ridiculous for the Chicago Fire Department to be running with a ‘Snorkel Squad 3’ for over 2 years without a Snorkel assigned to it. Only for the last few months before going out of service did they correctly re-designate Snorkel Squads 2 and 3 as Rescues 2 and 3. There was a reason for that however. The simple answer would be to say that it was recommended by a consultant study known as the Maatman Report. This was only partially true as ultimately the city didn’t want to spend the money that was necessary to keep fire companies in service and to provide adequate staffing.
The City of Chicago had hired a consultant who was the head of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Fire Science program by the name of Gerald Maatman. He also headed the National Loss Control Service Corporation. The City of Chicago had first hired him in 1963 to do a comprehensive study of the Chicago Fire Department, which included the fire stations, their locations, and the distribution of Chicago’s fire companies. The study was done in part to help Chicago raise the AIA fire insurance rating to a Class 2, which it achieved the following year. For your information, the AIA now is known as ISO and was originally known as the National Board of Fire Underwriters. The 1963/64 Maatman study was really quite good. It recommended that many new fire stations be built and that fire companies from the center city be relocated to the outlying areas of the city that had poor fire station coverage.
While there were some companies that he did recommend be taken of service, there were also some companies that he recommended to be moved into the new fire stations. He didn’t recommend any manpower reductions on the companies, plus there were even a few select fire companies that he had recommended to have a 6th man added. The report recommended that 16 engines be taken out of service from a total of 120 engines that were still in service, and that three new truck companies be added to the 60 that were in service. No Snorkels, Snorkel Squads, or squad companies were recommended to be taken out of service. Five years later (in 1968) another Maatman Report was commissioned by the city, however this time the recommendations were quite a bit different from the first (1963) report.
First let me tell you what had changed. In 1967, the Chicago Fire Department had given firefighters an additional day off (in other words they agreed to further reduce their working hours). However, the city refused to hire more men or increase the number of firefighter positions to reflect the reduction in hours. By 1967, two of the squad companies had been out of service for a few years. Squad 12 was taken out of service in 1964 to create Truck 62. Squad 7 was taken out of service in 1965 to create Snorkel Squad 3. In December of 1966 and February of 1967, Squads 1 and 2 had become Salvage Squads 1 and 2. That really wasn’t a big change as both stayed at their same locations and even had the same apparatus. They were given more salvage covers and would respond citywide on 2-11s to do salvage work. In April of 1967, Squad 3 was involved in a serious accident and the apparatus was declared a total loss. Squad Company 3 was disbanded on April 17th. Squads 6 and 13 were taken out of service on June 16th, just three months after Squad 3 was disbanded. Squads 8 and 10 were downgraded (on the same day) to one-man companies who would only respond on Still and Box Alarms with their driver. Slightly over a month later, Squad 10 was taken out of service and Squad 5 became a one-man company.
By the end of the summer, only Salvage Squads 1 and 2, and Squads 4, 9, and 11 were fully-manned squads. In early 1968, all of the squads (with the exception of Salvage Squads 1 and 2, and Squads 4 and 9) were out of service. I’m not including Snorkel Squads 1, 2, and 3 that were still in service in 1968 even though SS3 was running without a Snorkel for over a year by then. Because of the reduced hours, the manpower situation was so bad that by 1968 one wouldn’t know from day to day if an engine or truck would be running with five men or only four. The unpredictable manpower situation was another reason why the city rehired Gerald Maatman to do another study.
This new study recommended that about 3/5ths of the engine and truck companies run with only four men assigned to them. It further recommended the creation of six Flying Manpower Squads with a crew of six firefighters each to respond to still alarms supplementing the four-man companies. The remaining engines and trucks, which were located downtown, near the lakefront, and in the busy areas of the city, were to run with five-man companies. These wouldn’t normally have a Flying Manpower Squad respond with them.
There was more to the 1968 Maatman Report.  It recommended that all three Snorkel Squads be taken out of service and that only Salvage Squad 1 remain in service as the “downtown” squad company. He stated in his report that the special equipment that was carried on the Snorkel Squads could be carried on the new Flying Manpower Squads and the remaining Salvage Squad. He also had recommended that some of the equipment could be assigned to engines and trucks. He was right about that, as the fire department started equipping most of the engine companies with new multi-versals that previously were only carried on the Snorkel Squads.
The CFD also started assigning all trucks a K-12 rotary power. These saws previously were only carried on the Snorkel Squads. In the same report from 1968, the consultant recommended that one regular Snorkel Company (Snorkel 6) be taken out of service. Another recommendation was to move Snorkel 3 from Engine 84’s old house to Engine 60, which wasn’t a problem after Snorkel Squad 2 was taken out of service. Snorkel 2 was supposed to remain in service at Engine 28’s house, except they were to be given Snorkel Squad 1’s new Mack MB 55-foot Snorkel that had been delivered in 1967. Snorkel 4 was to be moved from Engine 25 (near the Loop) to Engine 67 (on the far west side) and Snorkel 7 was to be moved from Engine 55’s house to Engine Company 110. Snorkel 5 would remain at Engine 43’s house on the northwest side. The idea was to have the five remaining Snorkels located either in or near the high fire frequency areas. In those days (the late 1960s) the high fire frequency area on the south side really didn’t go much further south then 79th or 83rd Street, about as far east as Jeffrey (2000 East), and about as far west as Ashland (1600 west).
The consultant also recommended that ladder pipes be put on every truck company. There weren’t more then 25 ladder pipes in the field at the time. Having a ladder pipe on a truck allowed them to put an elevated stream into operation without having to wait for a Snorkel to arrive.

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A commentary: CFD apparatus history – part 1 of 3

A question was posed to Bill Post from Mike McAuliffe:

Bill, … on the subject of Snorkels, perhaps you could provide some insight as to why Fire Commissioner Quinn was so tight with funds, that he did not purchase a new small Snorkel for SS-3 or a new Snorkel for Snorkel 1 (which became SS-3), and, most importantly, he did not purchase a new Snorkel to replace Snorkel 7?

The Snorkels were his obvious pride and joy, though in my opinion, [this was] to the extent that he was blinded to the potential advantages of [the] Aerialscope/tower ladders. Why didn’t he purchase replacements? This was during a time when Snorkels were fairly common. Some departments were even using small Snorkels as a second-piece engine. Crown was making superb Snorkels on the west coast. The LACityFD had two that they wanted to get rid of. It could not have been that difficult to get a good deal on a used or even a new one.

I always thought it was a mark against Quinn that the city had only one Snorkel on the south side; Snorkel 3, for most of the 1970s when the south side was “really rolling”. Whenever a south side still and box came in, you would always hear on the sounder, “Snorkel 5 to Snorkel 3?.

Thanks in advance for any replies.


Mike, you hit it right on the button. Money was indeed a problem for the Chicago Fire Department in the 1960s. That was one of the reasons why during the early 1960s until late 1966 through early 1967, the Chicago Fire Department only purchased unique or what would be called “specialty apparatus”. As you know, that was basically the Magirus 144-foot and 100-foot aerial ladders, Snorkels, Snorkel Squads, Fog Pressures, the original helicopter (441), jet (rescue) boats, plus of course ambulances and chief buggies.
The Chicago Fire Department was desperate for capital funds. The City of Chicago finally had to go to the voters during 1966/67 with a campaign to get their approval to be able to float a bond issue in order to be able to get a funding mechanism to invest in much needed city infrastructure, which included new fire engines. I even remember that there was a special half-hour long television special one evening (probably on Channel 9) that was about the need for the Chicago Fire Department to acquire new apparatus. Some of our equipment, like a number of the tractor-trailer hook and ladders went back to the 1920s. Commissioner Robert J Quinn was on the show doing an interview where he had said “I don’t see how the hell the voters could keep us from getting new fire apparatus” which was desperately needed.
The bond issue was passed. As far as Snorkel Company 1 goes, Commissioner Quinn had felt a need for a new Snorkel Squad company on the busy West Side, so he converted Snorkel 1’s rig into Snorkel Squad 3, and he purchased three Fog Pressure Wagons on longer chassis to be used as the new second pieces for the three Snorkel Squads. Snorkel Squad 3 went into service on May 16th, 1965 at the fire house at 2858 W. Fillmore. This had been the quarters of Engine 66 and Squad 7.
Engine 66 was relocated to Engine Company 44 and Squad 7 was taken out of service on that day. By the way, another major reason why the CFD didn’t purchase a new Snorkel 1 (besides the money) is for another very elemental reason; there was no space for any new Snorkels on the West Side. As an example, in order for Snorkel Squad 3 to go in service, they had to move Engine 66 and take Squad 7 out of service. At the time, Squad 7 was one of the two busiest squad companies in the city, so Commissioner Quinn figured that he would just replace it with a more modern and well-equipped Snorkel Squad. This made a lot of sense. The other of our “top 2″ squad companies was Squad 3, which had been located with Engine 61. At that time, they were at 54th and Wabash which was only a mile and a half west of Engine 60, Truck 37, and Snorkel Squad 2 in their new station. One of the reasons why Squad 3 stayed in service is because Snorkel Squad 2 was in a new station with plenty of room.  This wasn’t the case though on the West Side. Part of Commissioner Quinn’s reasoning to put Snorkels 4 through 7 in service in 1961 and 62 was because he wanted one Snorkel located in each of the seven Fire Divisions at the time.
Snorkel Company 1 was the smallest of the Snorkel companies (only 50 feet) so they were moved from Engine 50 (on the south side in the 4th Division) to Engine 109 (in the 2nd Division on the west side). The reason for the move was that the only fire station in? the 2nd Division that had (barely) enough room for a Snorkel was Engine 109’s house. The space that Engine 109 had for Snorkel 1 was minimal at best because you need to remember that Engine 109 was in a two-bay station and that one of the bays had Truck 32. The truck had a 1954 FWD tillered aerial ladder which had an 85-foot wooden ladder with a long rear overhang. Since Snorkel 1 was only 50 feet and didn’t have a long front over hang, they were the only Snorkel that could fit into Engine 109’s quarters.
During the early 1960s when most of the Snorkels were put in service, the south side wasn’t that much better then the west side when it came to having fire stations which were large enough to accommodate Snorkels. At the time, there were three fire divisions on the south side. They were divisions 4, 5, and 7.
Division 5, on the far southeast side, had room for Snorkel 6 at Engine 46’s house because they had two exceptionally large apparatus bays. The 7th Division, covered the far southwest side, (including Englewood), and included Battalions 29, 31, 26, and 12. Only Engine 84’s house was large enough and it was located at Halsted south of 57th Street which was only two blocks south of the 4th Division’s southern boundary line on Garfield Boulevard.
Snorkel 3 was relocated there after being moved from Engine 50’s house where they had replaced Snorkel 1 for roughly 6 months. It was a very tight fit in Engine 50’s house. They ended up exchanging Light Wagon 3 (at Engine 84) for Snorkel 3. After Snorkel 3 was relocated into the 7th Division from the 4th Division in 1962, there was no Snorkel assigned to the 4th Division from March 24, 1962 until October 28, 1964. When Engine 28’s new house was opened, they were finally able to move Snorkel 2 there. Before Engine 28’s new station was opened, Snorkels 2 and 4 were located less then a mile apart from May 6, 1961 until October 28, 1964. Snorkel 2 was with Engine 5 and Snorkel 4 was with Engine 25 at the Fire Academy. That lasted for over three years and it was due to a lack of adequate space to accommodate the Snorkels in many of the fire stations around the city.

This is part one of a three-part article.

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Skokie Fire Department update

The following comes to us from Bill Post:

Here is something new about Skokie Engine 18.

Skokie Fire Department Engine Company 18 has been a part-time engine company for the last few weeks. It is on-duty from 8am to 8pm and is deactivated from 8pm to 8am the next morning.

The Skokie Fire Department does run a Squad/Pumper out of Station 18, as well as straight aerial ladder truck and an ambulance, so they still have a company with engine capabilities running out of Station 18 at night.  Normally when Engine 18 is on-duty, the engine is the first-due company along with the ambulance on EMS runs. When the engine is unavailable or off-duty, the truck is sent on the EMS runs with Ambulance 18.  Squad 18 runs village-wide on still alarms and special duties such as pin-in accidents. As such, Skokie normally doesn’t send the squad as the first-due company on EMS runs. The squad does normally run first-due on stuck elevators however.

The Skokie Fire Department is one of three  ISO (Insurance Service Organization) rated Class One fire departments in the Chicago area and runs out of three multi-company stations. Skokie in reality is a four engine department as Station 17 (the east side fire station) has Rescue 17 which runs as a second engine to Engine 17. Tower Ladder 16 out of Station 16 (headquarters) also has pumping capabilities in addition to Squad 18.

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Thoughts on CFD apparatus needs – a commentary (update)

More from Bill Post:

(In response to a comment from Martin)

I too like the idea of utilizing Pierce products and technology. Here is one of the reasons. As some of you may know, Pierce has recently acquired the marketing and servicing rights to the Bronto Skylift platforms. In other words, they are now Bronto’s North American representative. Currently Bronto/Pierce is marketing only three types or heights of platforms which are 100-foot, 114-foot and 134-foot Skylifts. However, the Bronto Corporation, which is based in Finland, actually manufactures aerial platforms that go from 55 to 367 feet. Their shorter models which go from 55 to 91 feet seem to be close to ideal. The Bronto actually is a type of Snorkel as it is an articulating boom with telescopic features (or vice versa). Their shorter model platforms, actually in practice have been mounted on squad-type trucks in the overseas fire service market. So, it can be done, and all that Pierce would need to do is have one of smaller Bronto platforms shipped to them. Then, they mount one on a Pierce chassis. Of course the platform would have to meet American standards, but in the long run, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Bronto Skylift 17M (55-foot) aerial

Bronto Skylift 17M (55-foot) aerial. Bronto photo

Bronto Skylift 17M (55-foot) aerial

Bronto Skylift 17M (55-foot) aerial. Bronto photo

Bronto Skylift 17M (55-foot) aerial

Bronto Skylift 17M (55-foot) aerial. Bronto photo

Bronto Skylift 17M (55-foot) aerial

Bronto Skylift 17M (55-foot) aerial. Bronto photo

Memphis Fire Department Pierce Snorkel

Here is a photo of Memphis Rescue 3 that Bill Post mentioned. It is a 55' refurbished Snorkel mounted on a '07 Pierce Dash chassis/body. Larry Shapiro photo

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Thoughts on CFD apparatus needs – a commentary

Thoughts from Bill Post about recent comments made regarding CFD spare apparatus for Tower Ladder 10 and Squad 1:

One of the great things about Tower Ladder 10’s location, is that they are not more than a mile and a half away from Fleet Management (the shops), so they could easily have work done on their rig whenever they wish. The oldest front line tower ladders though are three, 1996 HME/LTIs that are at Tower Ladders 21, 37, and 39, all of which are 16 years old. The CFD had been trying to replace most of their rigs within 10 to 15 years of frontline service. That said, Tower Ladder 21’s rig looks pretty good and it’s been getting it’s share of extra alarms lately. Tower ladders are listed on the city of Chicago’s official 2012 buying plan issued by the department of Procurement Services. This means that they intend to have bids requested to build them.

My concern is about the spare Snorkel that was running as Squad 1. That’s the only spare 55′ Snorkel left. I understand that it’s twin was gotten rid of over the last few years. Most readers of this site probably know by now that the CFD has been wanting to replace the three Snorkel Squads for the last few years, and that it has even been listed on Chicago’s official buying plan.

The catch, is that American LaFrance (ALF) holds the manufacturing rights to the Snorkel brand that they acquired from the old Snorkel corporation that went out of business (over 10 years ago), and ALF refuses to build any new Snorkels. The alternative is to rehab and remount an old Snorkel on a new chassis and body which several fire departments that still use Snorkels have done already. When there are fewer Snorkels out there, it becomes more difficult to even find Snorkels to rebuild and remount. 

I have heard that there may be other manufacturers that would be willing to design their own aerial similar to a "Snorkel", however it would be very expensive.  So, it would be much simpler if American LaFrance would just sell the rights to the Snorkel if not just build them again. Even though you see less of them in use, there are still a few major and several smaller fire departments that use Snorkels. The Memphis (TN) fire department had been running with two single-piece Snorkel Squads (which had been been using remounted Snorkels on newer chassis) and the Philadelphia (PA) fire department had been using two remounted full-size Snorkels. Since both Memphis and Chicago make extensive use of the smaller Snorkel Squads, it would be a good idea if they would start a class-action suit against American LaFrance to either manufacture the Snorkel or to at least let another company (who is willing to build the Snorkel) have the specs and rights to build them. The irony about this is that the Chicago Fire Department and our old repair shops is where the idea for the original Snorkel began, and our old repair shops even outfitted the original Snorkel for fire service applications. American LaFrance now owns the original Snorkel (which served as Snorkel 1 and Snorkel Squad 3) as part of their historic collection, even though they never actually built or outfitted the rig. The boom and platform were actually built by the Pitman Corporation. It really seems as if they are holding the fire service (in general) and Chicago Fire Department (in particular) hostage.

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CFD Apparatus History – Fog Pressure Units

In response to a question about the use and purpose of the Fog Pressure Units that were deployed by the Chicago Fire Department in the early 1960s, Bill Post has provided the following historical commentary;

The purpose of the Fog Pressure was to be able to get an effective stream of water on the fire quickly before a conventional engine company could get hooked up to a hydrant and led out with a canvas line. They were also handy on expressways and in tight access areas such as alleys, near railroad embankments, and in areas with poor hydrant coverage and water supply problems.

When the Fog Pressure Units were purchased and put in service between 1961 and 1966, the Chicago Fire Department had only about 11 or 12 engine companies which had booster tanks. The CFD had gone literally for ten years (1955 to 1966) without purchasing any new engines. Only the last batch of engines that had been purchased which were ten 1956 B (cab model) pumpers were equipped with 200-gallon booster tanks. One or two older model engines had been modified by the shops and had similar booster tanks added, but they were exceptions to the rule.

The Fog Pressure Units were equipped with 300-gallon water tanks and two booster reels of narrow diameter hose. They had special fog (gun style) nozzles that produced fine misty streams of water at high pressures. This is why it was called “Fog”.  With the exception of the first unit which was built on a “Willys” Jeep chassis with a John Bean pump, all of the other Fog Pressure Units were built on International Harvester chassis with Darley pumps and bodies.

While a few of the Fog Pressure Units were located near some expressways, most of them were located in your busy high fire volume districts on the west and south sides. Fog Pressure 2 was located at O’Hare Field using the original Willy’s Jeep apparatus.

Fog Pressure Units were also assigned as the second pieces to all three of our Snorkel Squad companies as they allowed the Snorkel Squad men some tactical flexibility. These were also used to carry additional men and equipment. In 1964/65, the CFD had purchased three Fog Pressure Units that had longer bodies than the previous Fog Pressure rigs. These were specifically for the use of the Snorkel Squad companies.

When the fire department started getting new engines put into service in 1967, most of which were equipped with 500-gallon booster tanks, the CFD started relocating some of the Fog Pressure Units away from stations that were getting the new engines assigned to them. They also started taking them out of service so that by 1970 all of the Fog Pressure companies were gone with two exceptions. Fog Pressure 2 remained at O’Hare Field and of course they kept the Fog Pressure (SS1A) which was assigned to Snorkel Squad 1. Most of the Fog Pressure units were taken out of service in 1968 and 1969 which includes the ones that were assigned to Snorkel Squads 2 and 3 as both of those companies were decommissioned in 1969 as well.

As described in the previous post, Fog Pressure 31A was temporarily put in service at Truck 31’s new house (at the time) for a little over a year as a stop gap measure until Engine 64 was relocated into the house.

At their height in 1966 and 1967, we had twelve Fog Pressure companies in service (not including the three assigned to the Snorkel Squads) but within 2 years nearly all of them were out of service with the above mentioned exceptions.

Bill Post

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Long Distance follow-up

Last year we posted twice about something a bit out of our local area … enormous wildfires in Israel. A post HERE about the use of a Boeing 747 converted for use as an air tanker and HERE about the international mobilization to offer assistance. Bill Post, a frequent reader and source of information about the Chicago Fire Department, found an article HERE that he thought would be an interesting followup to the December posts. It details a recent wildfire in Israel that was handled by the new squadron of air tankers which was purchased in response to the deadly Carmel fire last year.

The IAF’s new firefighting squadron carried out its first operational sortie successfully Tuesday. The squadron was called in to fight a blaze that broke out at Hamat Gader, near the Sea of Galilee.

The field conditions made it impossible for fire trucks to approach the site, and the firefighting effort was made solely from the air.
The planes were scrambled from Megiddo Airfield, where the unit’s commanders set up a command room near the Fire Brigade headquarters. A total of 15 sorties from Megiddo to the fire location were carried out. Eleven tons of fire retardant material were dropped on the blaze.
The squadron is named after Elad Riven, a young volunteer who perished while fighting the huge Carmel fire earlier this year. The IAF’s lack of firefighting planes made it impossible to effectively combat that blaze, and the result was a horrible national tragedy in which 44 people died.


A video of the air drops can be seen HERE.

In January, posted this article about the air tanker purchase;

Israel will buy six firefighting planes from Canada for a total price of about $200 million. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met Canadian defense minister Peter Gordon MacKay on Monday and worked out the details of the purchase. MacKay is visiting Israel.

The squadron will be named the Elad Squadron, in honor of 16 year old fire brigade volunteer Elad Riven, who was the youngest victim of the Carmel fire tragedy.

At the memorial ceremony for Riven, Netanyahu told his grieving family: “We salute you and the wondrous son you raised. One cannot always say about a boy who was taken after 16 years that he leaves us a legacy, but we can say it in the case of Elad – a legacy of infinite devotion to nation and state, a legacy of purity of heart and of clear, simple heroism.”

“Elad went to the heavens as a hero, and from the heavens, the pilots of the Elad Squadron will fly in order to save lives as Elad did,” he added.


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Chicago 2011 City Purchasing Plan

As provided by Bill Post, here is the page of the Chicago 2011 City Purchasing Plan which deals with fleet items, specifically those having to do with the fire department. Please note that several of the generic vehicles could also be related to the fire department but were not itemized as such. On another page, there is a $8,000,000 item for ambulances.

City of Chicago 2011 City Purchasing Plan

Highlights of the Chicago 2011 City Purchasing Plan as it pertains to fire department apparatus.

If the image doesn’t view well on your screen, it is downloadable.

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