a curated collection of historical apparatus' for the community to learn ABOUT, engage WITH, and ignite a passion for our firefighter history.
Get a taste of the collection below and plan a visit to experience them in person. This is a touch-and-see museum and a great opportunity for a family day trip!
1884 AHRENS STEAMER
The Ahrens Manufacturing Company was founded by a German immigrant named Chris Ahrens and had an enviable reputation with fire departments across the country. In 1883, the Aldermen of the City of Dallas appropriated the funds to purchase a new steamer and on February 19, 1884, “Old Tige” was placed in service. The name “Old Tige” was given to this steamer in honor of Mayor Ben E. Cabell who served in the Civil War and had acquired the nickname in battle. This apparatus is a 3rd size steamer meaning that it could pump 600 gallons of water a minute and it weighs 5,700 pounds. It carries the Serial # 392 and is only one of two 1884 Ahrens steamers left. These marvelous pieces of machinery provided the pumping capacity for fire operations by drafting water from wells, rivers, cisterns, or drilling into underground wooden water mains. Additional apparatus called “Reels” or “Hose Companies” provided the fire hose that ran from the steamers to the fire itself. “Old Tige” served the City of Dallas from 1884 to 1921 and served the downtown area as Engine 1 and later the South Dallas area as Engine 6.
1885 COONEY HOSE CARRIAGE
The Cooney Hose Carriage was utilized to bring large quantities of hose to the scene of a fire. The Dallas Fire Department purchased this carriage in 1885 from P.J. Cooney, Hose Carriage Manufacturer out of St. Louis, MO. All Engine Companies had an associated hose carriage called a “Reel” assigned to them and other hose carriages not assigned to Engines were their own company called “Hose Companies”. Most carriages had a two-horse team that brought it to the fire with its firefighters. Prior to this, manual hose carts were pulled to the scene by the firefighters. Once on location, the firefighters would “reel” out as much hose as they needed and attach the nozzle that was carried on the carriage. They would attach the other end of the hose to the steamer and hold on! Nozzles during the time of steamers and hose carriages did not have control valves. The flow of water was at the discretion of the Engineer of the steamer! Research indicates that this hose carriage was assigned as Engine 2’s Reel at Commerce and Hawkins.
This is the last of a long tradition of American LaFrance fire apparatus in the City of Dallas. In 1983 and 1984, Dallas bought many of these Engines and a few Trucks. In 1986, Dallas moved to another manufacturer and standardized the fleet until 2019. What is unique and was popular about the American LaFrance Century series is the wider cabs. American LaFrance increased the width of the cab by 8 inches, expanded the jump seat area to the width of the fender wells, and installed curved glass for a better view from the jump seat area. With the purchase of these apparatus, it also returned the Dallas Fire Department back to the red color scheme. Prior to these apparatus, all Dallas equipment was a lime green color. The American LaFrance’s were red with a white upper area on the cab. This engine has a 1,250-gallon per minute pump, a 500-gallon water tank, and a pre-piped deck gun. The Love Field area of Dallas was fortunate to have this apparatus assigned to Fire Station 42 at 3333 W. Mockingbird where they helped protect the airport, nearby manufacturing, residential properties, and part of the Oak Lawn area of Dallas.
1924 AMERICAN LAFRANCE
The 1920’s saw the transition from horse drawn fire apparatus to motorized fire apparatus in Dallas. This piece of apparatus was very popular and helped in that transition. It also started a long history with American LaFrance that lasted until 1984. This 1924 engine took the three elements that are needed to fight a fire and combined them into one apparatus, thus the name triple combination pumper. This apparatus has the pump that is powered by the vehicles motor, it carries all of the hose in the rear in an area called the hose bed, and it carries 100 gallons of water. Not much water, but more than what was being carried before! This type of engine replaced both the steamer and the hose carriages. The triple combination pumpers were more efficient, but it took many years for them to widely accepted. This apparatus is a Type 75 American LaFrance that is capable of pumping 750 gallons per minute, has a 100 gallon water tank, carries 2 ½ inch hose, chemical booster hose, and has a one-way radio installed on top of the water tank. This engine served the prominent area of South Dallas into the late 1930’s at Fire Station 24 at Poplar and Bexar Streets.
This apparatus was built by the Southern Fire Apparatus Company of Dallas, Texas in 1928. This apparatus carried the three essential components to attack a fire in one apparatus. It carried the pump, hose, and a small quantity of water. The pump was able to pump 750 gallons a minute and the water tank held 100 gallons of water. This particular engine did not see service in Dallas, but it's history is important because it was built in Dallas.
The Southern Fire Apparatus Company was at 50 Factory Street which was east of Denton Drive in the area of one of the main runways of Dallas Love Field. The area was known as Lovedale. The peak years for Southern was between 1928 and 1929 when this apparatus was built. Wirt Davis and Frank Austin were the owners of the Southern Fire Apparatus Company.