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History: HFD transitions from horses to horsepower in 20th Century

A factory image of a 1912 ALF, Type 12 PUMP (no tank) fire apparatus, which was shipped by manufacturer American LaFrance of Elmira, N.Y., to HFD No. 6 on Aug. 6, 1912.

The truck features a six-cylinder engine, gas-powered (not electric) lights, a searchlight and a hand-cranked siren. According to Ray Bennett of the American LaFrance Museum in South Carolina, the truck’s fuel tank could hold up to 25 gallons of gasoline and reach speeds of up to 45 miles per hour. Mechanical brakes were used to slow or stop the truck. This braking system was less effective than today’s hydraulic brakes.

The Type 12 PUMP is one of HFD’s first motorized fire trucks, gradually replacing horse-drawn apparatuses. The fire department became fully motorized by 1920, said HFD personnel historian Scott Mellott.

(Photo courtesy of the family of HFD Chief Raymond Hard)

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