The first fire engines in the U.S., called hand pumpers, were shipped to New York from England in the 1700s. Water was pumped from the tub by volunteers working long, parallel handles on the truck. American manufacturers produced similar hand pumpers until the early 1800s, when the steam pumper was developed, which supplied a continuous stream of water more effectively.

The earliest fire trucks were hand pulled to the scene, but by the mid-1800s, horses were used to draw the steam pumpers and running boards, and back steps were added to the vehicle. In 1906, the Radnor Fire Company in Wayne, PA began offering a pumper with two gasoline motors, bringing fire trucks into the modern age.

If you're interested in collecting vintage fire trucks or apparatus, some of the manufacturer names you'll want to explore include Waterous, Ahrens-Fox, Dedrick, Mack Trucks, Peter Pirsch and Sons, American LaFrance, New Stutz Fire Engine Company, Seagrave, Sutphen, Babcock, Snorkel, Spartan Chassis, Inc. and Emergency One. You may also want to consider starting with vintage model fire trucks, which take up considerably less space!

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Recent News: Fire Trucks

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Backstrom Review: “Bella”
Paste Magazine, January 30th

effeminate antique/pawn store owner, who also hits on Niedermayer; and Backstrom's roommate/ward/possible son Gregory Valentine (Thomas Dekker), who makes a bet with Backstrom that he can easily “turn” Niedermayer—by shamelessly hitting on him...Read more

Exhibits and Galleries
Times Herald-Record, January 29th

336-4444. Motorcyclepedia: Antique model trains, 250 Lake St., Newburgh. ... Orange County Firefighters Museum: Museum chronicles the history of firefighting in Orange County and houses a collection of firefighting equipment and memorabilia. It offers ...Read more

Colorado Garden and Home Show offers a taste of spring in Denver
Boulder Daily Camera, January 29th

7 - 15, hydrants, water features and foliage celebrate the history of firefighting. Light up your garden with the ... In the entry garden, check out the three antique fire trucks — one which kids can climb and explore. Firefighters and museum...Read more

The Case of the Missing Water Cannon
LA Downtown News Online, January 29th

An $18,000 antique water cannon, used to fight fires in mid-20th Century Los Angeles, has been stolen from in front of Engine Co. No. 28. It is owned by powerhouse attorney Mark Geragos, and the Downtown-based ... In 2011, Mark Geragos, the well-known...Read more

For its 200th birthday, Mason will party, January 28th

And parked outside making its debut was another Mason symbol, “Old Betsy,” the city's GMC Howe piston pumper fire truck purchased in 1928. For nearly two decades, Old Betsy served as the city's first line of ... The truck was later sold to a Morrow...Read more

Start Your Engines
Milwaukee Magazine, January 28th

It's a little “game” called Locate as Many Pieces of Firehouse Memorabilia Behind the Bar as You Can. “Rubber boots.” Check. “Very old oxygen mask.” Up there, high on a shelf above the bloody mary fixings. “Kid's metal toy fire truck.” On an even...Read more

Retired Atlantic County fire marshal keeps fire in his belly with firefighting ...
Press of Atlantic City, January 4th

He has seen firefighting change drastically, he said. He remembered writing fire calls on a giant chalkboard in Pleasantville, then ringing engine bells like the ones on display in his museum to alert companies of a fire, because they didn't have radios...Read more

Five-Alarm Obsession: A Fire Truck Buff Custom-Builds Models
New York Times, January 2nd

“He'd give me pamphlets and memorabilia as old as the hills.” During the 1970s, when “half my neighborhood went to hell” from constant fires, Mr. Eve said, he would follow the trucks to the fires, then help wash and pack up the hoses. He also had an...Read more