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Packard Fire Squad: 1911

May 3, 1911. Detroit, Michigan. "Packard fire squad." Ask the fireman who owns one. 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

May 3, 1911. Detroit, Michigan. "Packard fire squad." Ask the fireman who owns one. 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

It's the Beav

I think that is Beaver Cleaver visiting Fireman Gus.

Squad rig

While this rig does have a chemical tank on it it is primarily for transporting firefighters to a fire. In 1911 horse drawn steam pumpers, hose wagons and ladder trucks (not motorized) where the rule as gasoline powered versions of such equipment are in their infancy. By 1921 horse drawn rigs would be in the minority and would all but disappear by the late 1920's. Such "squad" rigs and chief cars were often the first gasoline motor vehicles a fire department would purchase.

Stupid question

but are those tires white? Or is it just the angle and my eyes are deceiving me? I've seen white ones on motorcycles from this age but not on four-wheeled vehicles.

[Natural rubber is white. Eventually the tire manufacturers started adding carbon black to the mix. - Dave]

What a magnificent machine!

I know that the design of cars has improved a thousandfold since then, that modern vehicles are faster, more economical, safer, easier to maintain and operate, more reliable, more comfortable, &c., but since I was a little boy I've loved this kind of design. Of course, back then every car was something special.

Hey !

I need a can of Brasso and a rag.

Two spares

Given the state of tire technology in 1911, it wouldn't be surprising if they had to stop in the middle of a fire run to change a tire.

Left-hand drive?

I'm curious as to why this fire truck has left-hand drive in the States.

[It has right-hand drive. Not at all unusual for the era. - Dave]


No curb cut for the driveway, and no Dalmatian.

Tough Guys!

There are some tough looking dudes on that truck!

Roots of a solid reputation

Packard enjoyed a great reputation that was in part based on the excellent commercial vehicles it built early in its history.

Love the board

I love the board attached to the curb, leading the vehicle down to the street. It reminds me that motor vehicles were still so rare that this sort of solution had to be improvised. I bet these guys were very proud to have such a nice fire truck in 1911. I bet they had the new guy crank it up.


The man holding on to the windshield on the far right bears a startling resemblance to actor Russell Crowe! Looks like the headlights on that rig were Acetylene-gas powered.

A future fireman??

The young boy looking on certainly seems duly impressed.

Model 30

This looks like a Model 30. It roared along with a booming 30 horsepower. Top speed of maybe 20 mph with all those guys and their gear on it. Here's a survivor, exactly the same angle. If it weren't for a few details, you might think it was the same machine.

Sharp dresser!

Look at the kid. Even I don't dress that well.

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