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1932 Seagrave City Service ladder truck
Fire Engine Photos
No: 17908   Contributor: Bob Graham   Year: 2009   Manufacturer: Seagrave   Country: United States of America
1932 Seagrave City Service ladder truck

This 1932 Seagrave City Service ladder truck has served the City of Emeryville in California since its delivery there; Emeryville is directly across the Bay from San Francisco. The truck is built on a long wheelbase designed to carry a wide selection of wooden ladders but no aerial device. It has a small water tank and reel plus monitor but no major pump. It has the standard 6 cylinder Seagrave gas engine with twin ignition. It's primary purpose was Rescue of persons and laddering of buildings. The rig is now used for parades, musters, etc. and sits on the apparatus floor of Emeryville's main fire station. It is typical of many other preserved and restored Classics or Oldtimers to be found in California. Several larger cities around the state have fire museums, and there is a very sctive group of fire truck enthusiasts in two chapters of what is called SPAAMFAA--Society For the Preservation And Appreciation of Antique Motorized Fire Apparatus of America; other chapters are to be found throughout the US and Canada.
Picture added on 30 June 2009 at 08:35
add commentComments:
Thats one hell of a rig as the Americans would say,and yea,she sure is a classic.Thanks for sharing this one with us Bob,real nice.

Added by Pete Matten on 30 June 2009.
We in Shadyside, Ohio, have a 1932 Seagrave Suburbanite 500 GPM pummper with the front-end precisely like this ladder truck.

Added by Dan E. Boyd, (former chief) on 05 March 2014.
Apart from the deck gun or monitor, which is a bit unusual on a ladder truck, this is a typical "city srervice ladder truck". These replaced horse drawn units between 1910 and 1935, and were very widespread up to WWII. Many communities had no need for an aerial ladder, and these ladder carriers were much less costly.

The very long wheelbase was necessary because no-one had the idea of mounting any ladders on gantries, so they could run forward to the front bumper of the truck. If this design had been adopted, as in Europe, the same ladders could have been accommodated on a much shorter and more manuverable chassis. But the horsedrawn geneology of these ladder trucks meant that this rather obvious idea was never adopted. Nor indeed were rear mounted aerials to be found in North America until well into the 1970s, with a handful of exceptions imported directly from Germany.

This unit has a small tank (behind the hose reel) and booster pump system, but many similar ladder trucks did not have any extinguishing media beyond a fire extinguisher or two. They and their dedicated crew were there to perform rescues and ventilate the building, not to supply water or handle hose lines! (This "specialization" continues to this day in many US fire departments, and is unique to North America and some parts of South America, although it has diappeared in some areas.)

Even so, one version of the contemporary ladder truck in smaller communities with volunteer fire companies was the "quad" or four-way combination truck. In addition to (1) extensive ground ladders and (2) a tank and booster reel sytem, this had (3) a full size pump of usually 750 to 1000 GPM capacity and (4) a supply of usually 1000 feet of preconnected 2.5 inch hose as well as suction hoses. Because all contemporary pumps were either front mounted or mid-mounted, the ladders and hose could both still be readily accessed from the rear of the vehicle.

Added by Rob Johnson on 05 August 2014.
Bob, Now that I have your contact: I'm in the process of writing a book about apparatus from 1900 thru 1955. Would really like to use this photo of yours with credit if you would give your permission. My e-mail is:

Added by Dan E. Boyd on 06 August 2014.
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