Ahrens-Fox Model N-5-2 1000 GMP Fire Engine

Seven of these gigantic Ahrens-Fox fire engines were used by the Rotterdam Fire Brigade from 1928 to 1971. In World War II they proved their worth in tackling fires after the German bombing of Rotterdam in May 1940, thanks to their pumping capacity of almost 4,000 litres per minute.

The American-made fire engines were delivered as a chassis with an engine; the Rotterdam coachbuilders Bikkers then manufactured the bodywork. The car is fitted with a six-cylinder engine with an impressive 16.4-litre capacity, and includes a cooling system using the water from the fire pump: note the tubes leading to the radiator. The large silver sphere on the front pump is a pressure reservoir. Drivers were given special training to handle the vehicle; the turning circle was 22 metres.

Ahrens-Fox, which produced its first fire engine in 1912, is deemed to be ‘the Rolls-Royce of fire engines’. In 1917 an Ahrens-Fox engine of the New York Fire Brigade managed to pump water to the top of what was then the world’s tallest structure: the 245-metre high Woolworth building.

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