American LaFrance Hook And Ladder Aerial Type 31-6
Americans build the most beautiful fire engines in the world. The functional aspect of the fire engine is hidden under rich ornamentation.
This American LaFrance, which was delivered to the Westfield Fire Department in New Jersey in 1922, is no exception; note the beautiful gold leaf embellishment, the black trims and the locomotive-shaped front with a bumper that looks like a ‘cow catcher’. In order to manoeuvre this extremely long vehicle through traffic, a second ‘navigator’ was seated at the back to steer the rear wheels. The ladder could be extended to more than 20 metres by a system of huge springs.
The fire engine is in excellent condition thanks to an intensive restoration by John Abrahamson of Enfield Auto Restoration, USA. The equipment, including ladders and tools, is intact. The LaFrance factory was founded in the 1870s in New York by Truckson LaFrance and initially built steam engines, but in 1900 the company amalgamated with other manufacturers to form American LaFrance. The factory began building motorised fire engines around 1910.