LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE MUSEUM COLLECTION

Our 1915 Ford Model T runabout has been fully restored. It was donated to the Museum by a former Fire Chief. It was restored beautifully as a chief’s car. This Model T has a brass radiator. 1915 was the last year for brass radiators.

This car is also a fire engine/chemical hose wagon, built by Ford. American LaFrance put the hose body and chemical tank on it. The chemical tank was nothing more than a water tank, that when pressurized, expelled water through a reel line or a chemical line. What happened inside this tank was this: it was filled it with water and soda bicarbonate was mixed into the water. There was a jar suspended in the water with a lead stopper, filled with acid.

When they needed to pressurize the cylinder, the tank would be turned over and spun on a hinge in a cradle. The lead stopper would fall out of the glass jar and the muriatic acid (we think it was muriatic acid) would spill out of the glass jar and mix with the soda water. This would create a carbon dioxide gas that would pressurizes the cylinder and the water could be expelled.

The engine carried fire hose as well as the chemical tank. The fire hose was 2.5″ diameter cotton jacket hose. And that hose could be attached to a fire hydrant or to a pumper, which is a fire engine with a pump. Once the hose on the hydrant or pumper was pressurized, the fire could be fought with the larger diameter hose. In the mean time
while waiting for the larger hose to pressurize, either through the hydrant or another pumper, the fireman could make a quick attack using the 3/4″ diameter hard line, or chemical line, or reel line, providing water by way of the chemical tank. So they could make a quick attack on that to get to work on the fire, and then use the bigger hose when it was charged at a later time.

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