Considered by many as the biggest name in the history of fire engines in the United States of America, it’s safe to say that the American-LaFrance company had the greatest influence on the design of the fire trucks that we can admire on the streets today.
No wonder: the extent and rapidity with which America developed in those years and continues to develop to this day, brought with it an increased risk of fires. Hence the development of formidable means to combat them, boosted further by the pride of those who do the difficult job of the Firefighter. Hence the need to design efficient vehicles like no other.
The most famous brand to design and manufacture these vehicles was American-LaFrance which, in 1910, began putting together the experiences of numerous manufacturers who came before it. The principal innovation was the transition from steam-powered vehicles to internal combustion engines for tanker trucks, ladder trucks and a whole family of specialized vehicles.
Among the many other innovations introduced over the years to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of these vehicles, American-LaFrance “invented” the cab forward design, taking advantage of the opportunity given by the heavy weight of the rear of the vehicle to place the driver ahead of the front axle and provide an expansive forward view.
The year was 1945 and this solution that afforded the driver better maneuverability and visibility is still in vogue today. This idea was picked up by a growing number of competitors. Vehicles of this type also require high performance in order to be moved from one location to another quickly and the competition became too aggressive, signaling the demise of this historic manufacturer that has since become the doyen for specialist collectors of this type of vehicle.
Those that do collect these vehicles are as few as they are passionate, while firefighting vehicles can often be seen in museums or even in the headquarters of fire brigade companies.
We have put together a selection of them for you and we’re curious to know if, among those who follow us, someone thinks they might one day become a collector of this means of transport that were born and to protect us all.