First Motorized Apparatus

To qualify for this category the vehicle must have been purchased or a demonstrator, and must be gasoline or diesel powered.

1905
Larue, OH
All motorized in 1905
Howe fire engine ordered and received in 1905. This is reportedly the first motorized fire engine in the United States.

1906
Enfield, CT

All motorized in 1906
The Thompsonville Fire Department of Enfield, CT. Even though Radnor Fire Company of Wayne, PA ordered theirs first, the TFD received theirs first making them the second fire engine placed in service in the United States.

1906
Wayne, PA
All motorized in 1906
Radnor Fire Company of Wayne, PA purchased a Knox Fire Engine in 1906. It was called the “Firemen’s Herald”. It was the third fire engine placed in service in the United States.

1906
Boston, MA
All motorized in 1923
Boston put into service an American LaFrance/Packard that was on loan from American LaFrance in 1906. It was the first American LaFrance gasoline driven fire apparatus built. It would be wrecked because of a wheel failure and sent back to American LaFrance to be rebuilt. It would later be put back into service only to be returned to American LaFrance in late 1907 because Boston did not have the funds to purchase it. They would not buy another mechanized rig until July 29th, 1910. A Knox chemical car was placed into service at Chemical 13 which is now Engine Co.53.

1907
Winchester, VA
Charley Rouss Fire Company voted to buy an Auto Hose Wagon at a cost not to exceed $3,500 on May 3, 1907. The wagon was purchased from the Howe Manufacturing Company and arrived on December 17, 1907. It was accepted two days later and immediately placed in service.

Oakland, CA
All motorized in 1921
The age of motorized equipment in Oakland began in 1908 with the purchase of the first motorized Chief’s vehicle.

1908
Detroit, MI
All motorized in 1922
Detroit’s first rig was a 1908 Packard used as a flying squad.

1910
Berkeley, CA
All motorized in 1914
In 1910 the fire department consisted of ten companies quartered in nine stations by a total of 74 firemen. That same year their first motorized hose wagon was purchased. By 1914, the department was fully mechanized.

October 20th, 1910
Yonkers, NY
All motorized in 1910
Two motorized hose wagons each equipped with a 35 gallon chemical tank and powered by a six cylinder 70 horsepower engines arrived. They were placed in service at Engine Co. #6 and Engine Co. #8. On November 5, 1910, Engine Co. #10 was placed in service equipped with the old fire apparatus of Engine Co. #8.

December 30th, 1911
Los Angeles, CA
All motorized in 1921
Chief Engineer Archie J. Eley convinced the Los Angeles City Council to advertise for bids for one motor pumping engine. On March 23, 1911, the Union Well Supply Co., local agents for The Robinson Fire Apparatus Co. of St. Louis, Mo. was awarded City Contract No. 1477 for: “One, “Jumbo” Triple Automatic Combination Hose Wagon and Fire Engine not to include chemical tank and equipment for the sum of $8650.00.” After much to do, Chief Eley reported to the Council that the new engine had passed all tests, and on December 30th, 1911 the engine was officially accepted.

1914
Phoenix, AZ
All motorized in 1914
Three 325gpm chain driven, white, 1914 Seagraves Type 19 fire engines were purchased by the PFD to make the swatch from horse to gasoline.

1914
Mason City, IA
All motorized in 1917
First fire engine purchased was a 1913 Seagrave.

September 3rd, 1915
Rome, NY
All motorized in 1924
An American LaFrance TYPE10 Chemical Car was purchased.

September 20th, 1915
Clifton Forge, VA
All motorized in 1915
An American LaFrance TYPE10 Triple was purchased.

3 Responses to First Motorized Apparatus

  • Winchester Virginia, the Charley Rouss Fire Company voted to buy an Auto Hose Wagon at a cost not to exceed $3,500 on May 3, 1907. The wagon was purchased from the Howe Manufacturing Company and arrived on December 17, 1907. It was accepted two days later and was the first “triple combination” auto fire truck in service in the United States.

  • Chip Jewell says:

    The first motorized “automobile” type of fire apparatus in Maryland was a 1907 Howe engine purchased by the Independent Hose Co. No. 1 in Frederick, Maryland. The engine was rear mounted pumper with an overhead ladder rack installed to carry ground ladders. Several photos of this engine are available.

    Thanks, CHIP JEWELL

  • Big Spring Texas was the first motorized fire tuck in Texas in 1909. The citizens voted and helped pay for the new truck after a major fire that broke out in the center of town.

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