Davenport Fire Department: The Seagrave Hose Truck 1913

We would like to celebrate with the Davenport Fire Department. On June 20, 2020, the Fire Department announced the addition of a new Truck 1 into their fleet. This new fire truck replaces one purchased in 1996.

This, of course, started us thinking about the first motorized fire truck owned by the Davenport Fire Department. We were excited to start our research on the topic.

We learned that the first motorized vehicle owned by the City of Davenport was purchased in 1911 for use by Fire Chief Peter Denger. This four seat auto was to be used as the Chief’s car and emergency fire vehicle. It was produced in the Buick Auto factory of Flint, Michigan. Upon completion in June of that year, it was shipped to Chicago where Chief Denger drove the vehicle back to Davenport with a Buick representative. The drive taking eight hours with speeds reaching 22 mph. Very impressive for a 39 horsepower vehicle.

The Daily Times, June 22, 1911. Pg. 13.

The experiment with an auto was so successful, Chief Denger insisted that the City purchase new motorized fire trucks and wagons. He insisted that motorized vehicles were going to stay in use while horse-drawn vehicles would become obsolete.

The Davenport City Council listened and purchased a motorized tractor to pull the aerial wagon stationed at Central Fire Station (this station is still in use at 331 Scott Street) and a motorized hose wagon for use at Hose Co. #4. In earlier years, #4 was known as the Mt. Ida Department.

Hose Co. #4 was located at 1502 Fulton Avenue in 1913. The address was changed to 1502 E. 12th Street in 1919. In 1931, Hose Co. #4 moved to its new station on East 11th Street and Jersey Ridge Road. *

The new equipment was purchased from the Seagrave Company of Columbus, Ohio. The tractor to pull the aerial wagon cost $4,725 and the hose wagon $5,025. By February 1913, the new equipment was in possession of the Fire Department.

The Daily Times, February 15, 1913. Pg. 39.

We believe we have an image of the Seagrave hose wagon in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center. This truck matches the style of the Seagrave truck produced between 1912-1913 and has the No. 4 of the Mt. Ida station painted on. The small brass plate under the seat is that of the Seagrave Company. Though undated, we believe this is a photograph of the original truck.

DFDNo4.8262.v6. Image of the Seagrave Hose Truck c. 1913. First motorized hose truck in the City of Davenport Fire Department.

The Davenport Fire Department moved forward quickly with new equipment. By 1916, all horses were phased out of the department and replaced by motorized automobiles.

Congratulations once again to the Davenport Fire Department and thank you for your continued service!

* This station in the Village of East Davenport is now home to the International Fire Museum.

Posted by Amy D.

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