1925 Ahrens-Fox

The reliability, quality and performance of Ahrens-Fox fire apparatus is no more vividly demonstrated that by the preservation of the Ahrens-Fox brand into the 21st century on fire apparatus built by HME Corporation. Fire equipment gets, hopefully, little use but needs to be at its best on a moment's notice and function reliably for hours, even days, on end. It was in this context that Ahrens-Fox's reputation was built. The company traces its history to the beginnings of the steam fire engine era when Alexander B. Latta built his first steam-powered fire engine in Cincinnati in 1852. Chris Ahrens was an apprentice in Latta's firm and eventually assumed ownership, later merging with American LaFrance in 1903. Ahrens' son-in-law Charles Fox along with Ahrens' sons and another son-in-law parted company with the combined firm a year later to start another company which became Ahrens-Fox in 1910. While still building a few horse drawn steam fire engines Ahrens-Fox also built the apparatus powered by Walter Christie's pioneering two-wheel tractors, then concentrated on four-wheel gasoline motor-driven units. Its pumpers are instantly identified by the giant chrome sphere pressure-equalizer above the front-mounted multi-piston pumps on which Ahrens-Fox's pumpers' reputations were grounded. Ahrens-Fox proudly pointed out that it built nearly everything on its fire apparatus in its Cincinnati factory, even the giant engines under the long hoods. The pumping power of an Ahrens-Fox is legendary, and they are instantly recognizable. This 1925 Ahrens-Fox N-S-4 Triple Combination Pumper has had only three prior owners, serving the Dover, New Hampshire Fire Department from 1925 until it was finally retired in 1960 after years of faithful service as a front line and then reserve unit. The second owner put it to good use, firing up the pumper occasionally to irrigate the fairways of a golf course he owned and kept it in good mechanical condition to meet that need. Acquired by the previous owner in 2002 shortly after a mechanical restoration, it was then entrusted to Andy Swift's Firefly Restorations in Hope, Maine for a no-expense-spared restoration to like-new condition. Beautifully adorned in the correct shade of red as specified by the Dover FD with gold leaf accents, lettering and filigrees that re-create the original Dover, NH decoration scheme by Peter Achorn of FireGold in Tenants Harbor, Maine, it is simply gorgeous and abounds in elaborate and authentic details including nickel plated kerosene lantern, suction hoses, 12-foot ladders, bell, copper SirenLite siren, nickel drum headlights and disc wheels with radial black wall tires. It is powered by an Ahrens-Fox 998 cubic inch T-head inline six-cylinder engine and has a four-piston pump capable of delivering over 1,000 gallons per minute (enough to drain an Olympic-sized swimming pool in an hour) at pressures of 125psi. Ahrens-Fox in 1917 demonstrated a pumper with sufficient pressure and volume to pressurize the standpipes of New York's Woolworth Building where Ahrens-Fox pumpers were the backbone of the NYFD for more than a generation. The sound of its gigantic, unmuffled six is breathtaking. The restorer describes this as his favorite of the over 25 Ahrens-Fox trucks he's worked on, commenting on the body's low profile, the flat riveted fenders, disc wheels and lower-mounted suction side equalizing tank that complements the high-mounted gas tank. Fully functional and restored to the highest mechanical and cosmetic standards by specialists renowned in their fields for their expertise and the caliber of their workmanship, this is a brilliant fire truck that fully deserves that overworked adjective, "iconic."

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