“Apparatus No. 1” – 1914 American La France 800 GPM Pumper (Ex- Seattle Fire Department)


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 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 (left) 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.