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Spontaneous Combustion: 1916

Spontaneous Combustion: 1916

"Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Treasury Department. Fire, February 21, 1916, from spontaneous combustion." Harris & Ewing. View full size.


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DCFD horse drawn apparatus

I identified the steamer in another post, however I didn't mention the wheels.
In a 1906 DCFD Annual Report, the Chief Engineer (Fire Chief) stated that two sets of wheels were being purchased for the apparatus of the department. Rubber-tired wheels would be used October 15 to May 15 and steel tired wheels would be used May 15 to October 15. Rubber tireed wheels were needed during winter months, owing to the fact that the streets are often covered with snow and ice, causes the apparatus to slide while turning corners. Steel tired wheels would be used during the summer months due to the suction of rubber tired wheels on hot asphalt would make heavy pulling for the horses.

DCFD Steamer

This is a 1904 American LaFrance Metropolitan double upright piston 700 gpm engine assigned to Engine 13. DCFD Serial S-113X ALF Mfg Reg. No. 3017. It had a Christie front wheel tractor attached on 04-22-21. The air chamber (ball) top can be seen between the seat and bell. This was necessary on all piston pumpers to absorb the shock of the piston pump going thru to the hose line and to the nozzle.


This seems to be on the site of what is now the Holocaust Museum on Raoul Wallenburg Place.

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Calling all fire engine chasers!

This "modern" horse-drawn steamer has rubber tires and doesn't sport the prominent globular air blower of earlier decades (unless it is rear mounted and behind the boiler). These little beasts could feature six to eight hoses and send upward of 1,500 gallons per minute a distance in excess of 250 feet and have full steam pressure in minutes, well before it arrived at the fire. It took a high level of technical expertise in every engine house to avoid the catastrophic dangers inherent in high-pressure steamers, so fighting the fire was only part of the risk in being a firefighter. When internal combustion engines became powerful enough to move a heavy engine and provide the pumping pressures, the beloved steam engine was a goner.

Have any other views or angles on this beauty, Dave? Suppose Stanton Square can provide info on what makes were being used at this time? Thanks for feeding the firebugs!

Wonderful pufferbelly

What a wonderful view of an old fire apparatus, belching smoke as it gives powerful steam to the pump. Marvelous! The way the Treasury has been printing money these days, you half expect the same type of blaze to hit Washington again. Great photo!

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