Bel Air’s third piece of fire apparatus was a hand drawn hook and ladder carriage. There are no known photographs of the original hook and ladder carriage. The above photograph is of an 1898 Rumsey Hook and Ladder carriage and is believed to be very similar to the apparatus owned by the fire company. The carriage carried an assortment of ground ladders, hooks, axes, lanterns and other small tools as deemed necessary for the fireground.
In October of 1890, after the formation of the fire company and the purchase of the hose carriages in 1890, a committee was appointed by the Board of Town Commissioner of Bel Air to look into the cost of a hook and ladder apparatus for the fire company. Nothing was ever mentioned about the apparatus again until August of 1892 when the fire company asked for citizen donations so that they could build their own hook and ladder carriage.
Again the effort was abandoned until January of 1898 when, at a town meeting in the courthouse, the town taxpayers directed the town commissioners to purchase any additional apparatus and necessary equipment the fire company was in need of.
On March 4, 1898 the town commissioners authorized that a hook and ladder carriage be purchased for use by the fire company. On March 18, 1898 the order was placed with Rumsey and Co. of Seneca Falls, New York at a cost of two hundred and sixty nine dollars. On April 25, 1898 the hook and ladder apparatus arrived in Bel Air amid much fanfare.
The carriage was stored at Shannahan and Smith’s livery stable on Main Street and it remained there until it was moved, along with Hose Carriage #1 and Hose Carriage #2 to the fire company’s first fire station on Courtland Street in 1907.
The hook and ladder carriage served the fire company and the Town of Bel Air with much needed fire protection until October of 1919 when the fire companies first piece of motorized apparatus was purchased.
The disposition of the hook and ladder carriage is also unknown.