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Vintage Fire Equipment

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Curious what equipment would have been on a 50's Engine? If anyone has any pictures or descriptions that would be great. I imagine fire departments still use a lot of the same tools......firefighters aren't big fans of change. It must have also varied in different parts of the country? It would be cool to see some of the tools from the past...........Thanks

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Change? Yes and no.

-Many hand tools are basically the same, with some differences. For example the ubiquetious pick axe is still carried by many departments, but is considered by many (myself included) to be worthless and usually doesnt see the outside of the storage compartments. The ones today usually have a fiberglass or some sort of other synthetic handle. You want 2 or 3 pick axes with the curved wooden handles.

Same goes for pike poles. You want at least a 6 and an 8 footer- wooden handled.

Hose, nozzles and appliances- again basically the same, but many differences between then and now. Then they were usually machined or cast brass, bronze, etc. Nowadays they are usually pyrolite, aluminum, stainless, or synthetic of some kind.

If you need equipment for your truck you need to attend the "Spring Melt" fire flea market held annually in Allentown, Pa. It's the largest fire-only flea market in the US and is usually the third Sunday in April- coming up soon. You can buy almost anything you want from books, helmets, hose, nozzles, parts, uniforms........etc etc etc.

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hose clamps, pry bars, hose repair devices( made of brass or steel, nozzels mounted on running boards, and like F.W.D. said if you need equipment go to Allentown spring melt.

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Thanks guys....... Sounds like a trip to the Spring Melt would be worthwhile.......F.w.d..... I agree with the pick head axe.....I usually carry the "Irons" or a Denver tool.....depending on if we're running with the truck.

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I think that Denver tool is just about as worthless as a pickhead axe but that's me. I usually ride the OVM seat if I am not driving which means I grab a six foot roof hook and a halligan.

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Macks came with a standard list of items supplied with the truck.

If not here is a good list for a 1950's truck:

Hux Bar, Halligan, Pick head ax, Flat head ax, flashlights, hammer, spanners, hydrant wrench, generator, circle K lights, cord reel, 2 -1/2 nozzles, 1 1/2 nozzles, navy nozzle and applicator, wooden pike pole, strainer & rope, tool box, early chem ox air packs. You can find most of these items at Spring Melt.

Firemack

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I have to disagree with my esteemed colleague for one item in his list: The Halligan. Not widely used in the fire service until the 1970's. I would replace it with a claw tool.

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On page 11 of Harvey Eckart's book, "Mack Model B Fire Trucks", there is a spec sheet that shows the standard equipment that was supplied with either a "B"

or a "C" model pumper. In addition to the electrical system, brakes, axles, etc. there is also a list of small hand tools such as a 10' pike pole, 2 axes (1 pickhead,

1 flat head) and so on. Almost everything was out in the open on the running boards; the good old days (sorry for sounding like the dinosaur that I am).

Chem ox mask!!! I trained on one of those in the USAF. Never used it in a real situation though.

bulldogboy

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The Museum should have sent you a list of what was supplied to York with your truck. If you don't have it try asking the museum for it.

In addition to the "standard" fire service tools there were regional differences. My truck was spec'ed with a Herbert Hose Clamp for example, something I had never heard of, but Richmond, VA used them extensively.

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Randy

FYI on the Halligan, Maybe it wasn't used by your department, we had then on every truck, of course we also had aluminum ladders on our 1948 Mack, and had one of the first motorized fire trucks in 1906.

The tool was designed by and named after a New York City Fire Department First Deputy Chief named Hugh Halligan in 1948. Later that year the first prototype of the Halligan bar was made by Peter Clarke (a blacksmith).[2] Despite being invented by one of its members, the FDNY did not initially purchase the tool because of a perceived conflict of interest.[3] The City of Boston Fire Department was the first major customer of the Halligan, purchasing one for every fire company in the city. The tool was popular enough that members of New York ladder companies went out and bought it with their own money until the department ultimately decided to purchase the tool.[

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The tool was popular enough that members of New York ladder companies went out and bought it with their own money until the department ultimately decided to purchase the tool.[

Remember the great story in "Report From Engine 82" about the halligan being stolen and held for ransom because the member had bought it himself?

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Great information....Thanks....I had never heard of a Herbert hose clamp either, or a Hux tool. I did get a brochure from the Mack museum with a generic list of equipment. Also the blueprint they sent had the locations of a couple different things.....such as the "Scott air packs". There are a few brackets (holders) I haven't seen before.....one compartment has 3 or 4 aluminum rectangle holders around 3"x5"...... Maybe for some type of flashlight? Also the Mack museum sent a picture of a truck with a slide out draw in the back for a safety net....I thought that was pretty cool. I saw an old picture once of guys training with one. Talk about trust! Anyone ever jump onto one???

Hey F.w.d........ Whats the OVM seat?

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Great information....Thanks....I had never heard of a Herbert hose clamp either, or a Hux tool. I did get a brochure from the Mack museum with a generic list of equipment. Also the blueprint they sent had the locations of a couple different things.....such as the "Scott air packs". There are a few brackets (holders) I haven't seen before.....one compartment has 3 or 4 aluminum rectangle holders around 3"x5"...... Maybe for some type of flashlight? Also the Mack museum sent a picture of a truck with a slide out draw in the back for a safety net....I thought that was pretty cool. I saw an old picture once of guys training with one. Talk about trust! Anyone ever jump onto one???

Hey F.w.d........ Whats the OVM seat?

Yep, once for training; not too smart. Our ladder trucks carried life nets so one day we said, "What the heck, why not". You had to land just right or the jumper and the holders could get

seriously hurt. Never did it again.

bulldogboy

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Hey F.w.d........ Whats the OVM seat?

"Outside Vent Man" also known as the "Vent/Enter/Search" man.

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I saw the lads jumping into the net from the firehouse roof when I was too young to participate. Probably about 1960 when they were getting ready to replace the 1931 ALF city service truck with a brand new Maxim/IH 65' Junior Aerial. Pretty big stuff in the small town of Ashland, MA.!

The rectangular brackets are probably for Carpenter Hand Lights, a very common light carried by most of us for a lot of years before Streamlights became common. They are still available at flea markets and the 7.5V batteries can be ordered. Very heavy light that worked well to vent a window in a pinch and could be left at a door to mark it when you entered a room.

Send the Museum a letter and ask them to research your truck's folder for a list of supplied equipment if that is what you want to equip it with. One of the neat things about fire apparatus, as opposed to old cars, is there is no such thing as the need to provide original equipment in order to be correct. The equipment changed with time, so all you really need to do is decide what era you want to represent. I try to keep mine set up as it would have been in the mid-fifties, but having something from the early seventies would still be OK since it was in-service than.

If you do go with a Halligan try to search for an original with the "soft" round steel bars as opposed to the newer cast style that Ziamatic sold. Pretty rare and they tend to bring a higher price at flea markets.

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Talk about old we are still running 3 1/3 supply line with a humat lol and our hose is from 1977 to 1980.

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Nothing wrong with 3 1/2" hose. Unless you have water supply issues the smaller supply hose is much less of a PIA on the fireground. You can drive over it and move it when you need to. Try that with LDH.

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Nothing wrong with 3 1/2" hose. Unless you have water supply issues the smaller supply hose is much less of a PIA on the fireground. You can drive over it and move it when you need to. Try that with LDH.

I don't have any complaints about our 3 1/2 most lays in town will be 150-300 feet and we have a decent water system, so we really don't need ldh. When I tell people we still run that hose they give me a dumb founded look, and then I say humat and they really get puzzled lol.

Rudy

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I also liked the Humat valves providing you have enough pressure in your water system to overcome the friction loss inherent in the design. It allows one engine to operate alone with a reliable water supply providing you have the staffing to leave a member at the hydrant. (or the driver is a hustler and makes the run back to the hydrant after getting things going)

Even if you don't use them in your day to day operations they are a valuable asset whe you are forced to operate alone for an extended time period during events like thunderstorms and tornadoes when you run out of engines.

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We run Humats converted over for use with 5" LDH. This pic about 15 years old. Big water drill with the Montgomery County LDH Task Force- which will guarantee a minimum of 1000gpm for one mile. I was driving when this was taken, I can't remember the exact numbers but I was moving lotzza water.

post-1729-0-24085800-1363462343_thumb.jp

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