1914 American LaFrance Pumper Fire Truck


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Fix for Seattle’s First “Pain at Pump:” In 1910, leaping, fast-spreading flames ravaged Seattle’s densely packed downtown in a massive fire that nearly destroyed huge chunks of the newly emerging city. Despite the best efforts of the Seattle’s Fire Department (which was still mostly horse-drawn), its then industry standard steam pumpers and highly-organized supporting bucket brigades were unable to contain the blaze. Less than five years later, in 1914, Seattle—and its growing force of firefighting professionals—got precisely the break it needed; the city’s first-ever motorized pumping unit—a 1914 American La France capable of projecting an 800 gallon per minute flow that almost instantly changed the face of firefighting and, in the opinion of at least one Seattle historian, could very likely have prevented the 1910 calamity. Designated as Apparatus No. 1 – an SFD equipment number indicating date of acquisition within one of several equipment categories – the authenticated pumper is one of two motorized pumpers acquired by the department in the same year and has the sole distinction of entering service bearing the “No. 1” designation and marking that it bears to this day.

This Apparatus #1 was one of the two Type 12 fire engines purchased by Seattle in 1914. It is a double-pumper/hose combination and pumps 800 gallons per minute. This out-pumped the fireboat, which was all Seattle had at that time to cover large fires.

The service record for this apparatus reads as follows:

September 1914 to November 1917 it served at Engine House #1 located at 7th and Columbia

November 1917 to April 4, 1933 it served at Engine House #8 located at Wayne and Lee Street

April 1933 to January 1934 it was held in reserve.

January 1934 to May 23rd 1946 it served again at Engine House #8.

July 1, 1948 to January 31, 1950 it served at Engine House #34 located at 32nd Ave.

January 31st to September 15, 1955 it was held in reserve and it was sold at the end of 1955.

The only recorded new items installed by the Fire Department were new tires in 1928, a new engine (592) in 1935.

Special features in its original condition were: The radiator was painted all red (not brass). The hose reel was under the floor. One of its previous owners, Mt. Hart, added the hose reel.

A special note: Its sister engine, Apparatus #2, served for the same company from 1914 to 1949, a standing record to this day.