Fire Department Shop Does the Work With Salvaged Automotive Equipment

FEW problems have presented such a nation-wide challenge to Yankee ingenuity as that of how best to mount the skid-type pumper units supplied to communities by the Office of Civilian Defense.

This Handy Cabover Type of Truck Will Carry a Skid-Type Pumper, a Crew of Four Men, and Will Tow a Trailer-Type Pumper

Photo by Capt. A1 Penros

The problem would have been fairly simple before priorities took a firm grip upon transport equipment and machineshop supplies; it became very complex when department heads had to prowl through junk heaps to salvage bits of trucks that would be pieced together to carry a pumper.

San Diego’s fire department went through all the agonies attendant upon solving the problem. It finally emerged from the struggle with four pieces of equipment of which it is especially proud. In addition to a fleet which includes built-over passenger cars and trucks resurrected from junkyards, the city has a quartet of streamlined “cabover” trucks for use by its auxiliary firemen.

These trucks were acquired from a bakery at an advantageous price. They are of 1 1/2 tons capacity and arc built for dual tires, if need arises.

When first acquired these four trucks were arranged to carry bakery goods. Elaborate stainless steel shelves and refrigeration equipment were removed. The wide rear door permitted easy installation of the pumper unit. There is ample room in the truck for all the hose supplied with the pumper, and for the other equipment that must be carried, except the suctions and the ladders.

The suctions are carried at the top of the truck, one along either side of the body. A rack on top mounts the 24foot extension ladder and the 12-foot roof ladder.

Four men, including the driver, can ride in the cab. Here they find good protection from traffic hazards, and from the threat of falling from the truck while enroute to a fire.

These trucks have a further virtue in that they will be useful in some other branch of municipal service after the war. It is believed that they will be splendid vehicles for use of city electricians.

All work of conversion of these trucks, as well as the others assigned to the OCD auxiliary firemen, was done in the city’s shops under direction of John Seuss, superintendent.

Fire Chief John E. Parrish early insisted that a standardized arrangement be worked out for mounting auxiliary fire fighting equipment on trucks. He wanted spanners always to be in one location. Nozzles should be arranged in a uniform manner. Hose should be stowed in precisely the same manner on every piece of rolling equipment, including the new streamliners. Chief Parrish foresees the possibility that volunteer firemen may in an emergency be assigned to work on pumper units which they did not use in their training. A standardized plan, he believes, will avoid possibility of confusion.

All OCD trailer and skid-type units allocated to San Diego are kept at the regular fire stations. Most are stored outside under heavy tarpaulins. Regular firemen are responsible for keeping tire pressure up, batteries charged and gas tanks filled. Proximity of the equipment to the fire stations guarantees protection of the property, and it makes the pumpers available for use by the auxiliary firemen in their practice sessions. This factor has enabled the regular fire department to maintain close contact with the volunteer group and to integrate volunteer training with that of the department.

The Fore and Aft Appearance of San Diego’s Streamlined Fire Trucks for OCD Volunteers

Photo by Capt. AI Penrose

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