Singerly Replaces Horse-Drawn Units With Motorized Fire Trucks

A photo of Singerly's  GMC fire truck.

A photo of Singerly’s GMC fire truck.

Elkton was well protected from fire in the years before World War I as the Singerly Fire Company had all the latest equipment for controlling a blaze.  The horse-drawn Steam Engine and  Hook and Ladder were supported by two hand-pulled hose carts, and whenever the old alarm bell rang out with an urgent appeal those units were soon on the spot.

But the era for horse-drawn apparatus was quickly fading and the company was determined to have modern equipment to protect the growing county seat.  So Singerly purchased a motorized unit in 1914 for $2,800, a GMC Truck from James Boyd & Brothers of Philadelphia.  The vehicle was able to tow either the hook and ladder or the steamer.

Before a week was up the truck had its debut as it demonstrated how quickly it could get to an alarm.  At the Prest-O-Lite Factory on W. Main Street, an explosion blew out some doors frames and the reliable old alarm bell called out the volunteers.  Usually when that happened people lined the streets to watch as a team of horses pulling the steamer and hook and ladder raced by.  But on that Thursday in the summer of 1914, they watched as the auto-truck flashed past the excited crowd, its gong clanging a warning for carriages, wagons, and pedestrians to clear the way.

The passage of the horse-drawn firefighting era in the county seat passed quicker than anticipated.  The next year, the hook and ladder was sent to a paint shop on Bridge Street to be overhauled.  While there the structure caught fire and all the contents was lost.  So a second GMC truck with ladders and other firefighting equipment was purchased in 1915.    The third truck, an Ahrens Fox first-class pumper, was added in 1920

An advertisement for General Motors fire trucks in the magazine, American City, June 1918.  Singerly Fire Company had purchased a GMC unit, a few years earlier.

An advertisement for General Motors fire trucks in the magazine, American City, June 1918. Singerly Fire Company had purchased a GMC unit, a few years earlier.

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