1918 Ford / American LaFrance Type E – Double Tank Combination Chemical & Hose Car
Bel Air’s first piece of motorized apparatus was a 1918 Ford / American LaFrance Type “E” Double Tank Combination Chemical and Hose Car. It was purchased in June of 1919 for approximately $2000.00 dollars. While it had no fire pump, it was equipped with two 25 gallon chemical tanks mounted behind the driver over the hose body. The tanks were kept full with a bicarbonate soda and water mixture. When it was needed, sulfuric acid was poured in the tanks and the reaction caused a pressure buildup, forcing the mixture through a three quarter inch by two hundred and fifty foot hose. The hose was stored in a square basket to the rear of the chemical tanks.
The engine also had a hose bed with a capacity for one thousand feet of 2 ½ inch hose. When needed, the hose was deployed from the bed and connected to one of the hydrants located throughout the Town of Bel Air. The unit also carried a twenty foot extension ladder and a twelve foot roof ladder as well as lanterns, axes, pike poles and two chemical fire extinguishers.
The engine was delivered to Bel Air in October of 1919 via the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad. It was unloaded at the Bel Air Train Station located on Rock Spring Avenue. Chief T. Frank MacLean supervised the unloading of the engine and Wesley Thomas drove the engine back to the Courtland Street fire station.
The engine was originally painted “fire engine” red, but was repainted a cream/ivory color in 1924 to match the newly purchased 1924 Seagrave Pumper.
The engine served the fire company until November of 1929 when it was sold to the Jarrettsville Volunteer Fire Company for $600.00 dollars.