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The amazing American LaFrance antique fire trucks collection in North Charleston

Posted By ShoutCarolina,Date: 04.18.2009

The North Charleston Fire Museum and Educational Center welcomes you to the largest collection of professionally restored American LaFrance fire apparatus in the country. Delight your auto and fire rescue passion with the 18 fully restored vehicles dating back to early 1800’s, all in working conditions! Admission is FREE for kids and only $6 for adults.

Here is a taste of what you can expect to see at the museum:

1785 Richard Mason Hand Fire “Enjin” - This jewel (not an ALF apparatus) is one of the first fire machines used in Charleston and only of the 3 surviving Mason designs. Initially used by the “Hand in Hand” company it was operated by 33 hand selected slaves. Fondly known as the “handtub” the Mason Enjin worked until the Civil War.

Oldest South Carolina hand fire pumper


1857 Button and Blake Hand Pumper - The pumper that started the America LaFrance Company, required 30 volunteers to dump water into the tub then pump it out onto the fire. The unusual air dome was meant to reduce the pulsation from the 2 reciprocating pumps. At this exhibit you can witness an audio fire rescue simulation of a Charleston home fire emergency.

16 men hand pumper 30 volunteer fire crew




1886 Silsby Steam Pumper
- This pumper was originally designed by the Silsby Manufacturing Company in Seneca Falls New York, then improved by ALF. The pump was capable of pumping 750 gallons of water a minute.

1886 Silsby Steam Pumper




1911 “Type 8″ Roadster
- Here is the only known complete surviving example of the Type 8 Roadster, one of only 22 passenger cars ever designed by ALF. Although built as a race car as indicated by its mud guards and bare bones bodywork, it never raced because of a tragic accident. Instead, it was used on regular roadways in NY until 1923. In 1972 it was discovered in a barn and in 1987 was restored by ALF.

Only surviving LaFrance Type 8 Roadster




1911 “Type 5″ Double Tank Combination
- The white and red beautiful Liberty was one of the most attractive pumper in ALF history.

1911 Liberty red and white steam pumper


1912 “Metropolitan” Steam Pumper - This is one of the best steamers ever built, weighing in a over 5 tons and capable of pumping 600 gallons of water per minute. Note the exquisite artwork, lavish gold leafs and beautiful pin striping. That’s a fire rescue in style!

American LaFrance Metropolitan fire pumper steamer




1919 American LaFrance Ford Model T
Chemical Car (to the far right)

The great American LaFrance roadsters


1926 “Type 75″ Triple Combination - This was the most popular ALF pumper in the early 1900s. Lighter and more maneuverable than its competitors, capable of pumping 750 gallons a minute and coming with an attractive $12,500 price tag, Type 75 was in high demand across North America.

1926 red and white triple combination fire pumper


1929 “Type 270″ Service Ladder Truck - One the first trucks equipped with an aerial ladder.

ALF 1929 Ladder Fire Truck


1940 500-Series Pumper - This was a very successful pumper considered the first styled body in the entire service industry.

1940 500-Series La France fire pumper


1958 GMC Snorkel - This was a significant improvement in fire rescue operations that stemmed from the Chicago Fire Chief Department. They’ve created the “Snorkel” by modifying a commercial tree trimming and utility truck: attaching the hose to the articulated boom and mounting a ground monitor to the work basket. The Pitman designed base platform gave firefighters the ability to maneuver the truck in tight spaces and deliver more water to the fire.

GMC Chicago Snorkel a revolutionary LaFrance Fire Truck

Bring your kids to the Fire Museum in North Charleston for an adventure of a lifetime!

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    3 Responses to “The amazing American LaFrance antique fire trucks collection in North Charleston”

    1. 1785 Richard Mason Hand Fire “Enjin” « All About Collectables Says:

      [...] Photo taken from The amazing American LaFrance antique fire trucks collection in North Charleston [...]

    2. 1857 Button & Blake -16 Man Hand Pumper « All About Collectables Says:

      [...] Photo taken from The amazing American LaFrance antique fire trucks collection in North Charleston [...]

    3. 1886 Silsby Steam Pumper « All About Collectables Says:

      [...] The steam pumper introduced in 1886 was originally designed by the Silsby Manufacturing Company in Seneca Falls New York, then improved by ALF. The pump was capable of pumping 750 gallons of water a minute onto the fire. Photo taken from The amazing American LaFrance antique fire trucks collection in North Charleston [...]

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