1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question What was your first one like?

    All these apparatus innovations being spoken about in this forum make me realize that we've come a long way in the fire service.

    Remember back when you first joined up? What kind of apparatus did you roll to fires on? Do you miss it, or are you glad it's gone?

    My first volunteer fire station had two pieces of equipment.

    The first out the barn was an open cab gasoline powered 500 gpm International that had a 350 gallon water tank. The PTO was out on the running board, it had one pressure guage with two needles, and I had to open the hood and turn a wing nut on the carb to throttle up pump pressure. If it wouldn't start you could hand crank it, or push it and jump in. I froze my butt off in the winter, and when it rained, well you know. I really miss it. It ran like a champion, put out some big fires, and paid for itself time and time again.

    The second piece out the barn was a GMC that had a fifty foot wooden ladder. You had to pull a pin and let the springs raise it, then turn a hand crank to extend it. The turntable had holes you had to line up and drop pins in. It had a huge generator and army style search lights. It was very maneuverable; it fit down any street, and was quick to set up. I miss it, too.

    What type of apparatus did you break in on?

  2. #2
    Brian Johnson
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I remember the first engine I ever got to drive. Our Van Pelt was in the garage and we had a relief engine, a late 60's open cab crown that had been retrofitted with a hard top. It had a Halscott 12 cylinder gasoline engine. This thing roared when it went down the street. That first ride was the best. I had just graduated the Fire Apparatus Engineers Academy and had my ticket punched to drive. We got a call on the far side of town. I remember roaring down busy streets working the gear shift, double clutching and working the grinder siren. Driving that thing was like dancing a ballet!

    The new engines are much easier to drive and operate but I'd trade them for an old Crown any day!

    Brian Johnson
    Asst. Chief, Training
    MCAS Iwakuni, Japan

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I started in 1968 with a 1953 Chevy 1-1/2 ton enclosed cab, straight 6 cylinder engine, 4 speed manual transmission, 6 volt battery, vacuum shift two speed rear end, vacuum windshield wiper on the driver's side (none on the passenger side), a 2 section wooden 24' ladder, 1 axe, 1 booster reel with 200 ft of 1' hose and an ungated fog nozzle, 1 pressure guage which never went under about 40 PSI, 2 Indian packs, no breathing apparatus, 4 or five helments, a few pair of rubber gloves, no turnout coats or boots, 1 section of 2-1/2" cotton hose with a hole in it and a 1-1/8" solid bore suicide nozzle, 2 sections of 2-1/2" x 10' hard suction, 1 strainer, 2 old dry cell Navy flashlights, no spots or floodlights, pto driven rotary pump of about 300 gpm without a relief valve (if nozzle was shut off it would blow apart a pipe or hose somewhere), no radio, no dispatching system, someone would blow the house siren if they heard of a fire, no insurance, no reports, no investigations, and a 3" American portable, and one 10' pike pole, the booster tank held 740 gallons. It extinguished a lot of fires in it life and a lot more extinguished themselves as they ran out of fuel. I can't remember anything else on the truck except you didn't blow the mechanical siren very much or the battery would go dead. Everyone should have to try it like that for a while. They would learn to appreciate the equipment that is around today.

    PS: No tanker or hydrant. The 740 gal. put it out or it burned.

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    First call ever...1976 F350 rescue mutual aid to a Hurst Tool call one icy morning.

    First two fires in a 1969 Int'l 750/300, can still remember the faint loom up of the first one in the distance over the chrome "red eye" flasher in the middle of the hood.

    But the classic one to remember was the 1947 Seagrave open-cab 65' ladder. Just something about being out in the open like that is romantic (not the safest thing, but romantic none the less!), standing up above the windshield while finishing bunking up.

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Well, Im a young guy. My first call in our oldest truck, which is a 1952 International Loadstar L190 closed cab, was awesome. The gears are all backwards too, and if you dont double clutch it, you WILL grind gears. 500 gallons of water and a pump that will still outpump our newest pumper. It once exploded a portable monitor on a mutual aid call.

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