Guardians of The City SFFD Home Page - San Francisco Fire Department Museum
Museum Collections: Apparatus - Engine Co. No. 26:

1897 Truckson LaFrance, a 4th size, double, 550 gpm, steam engine

1897 Truckson LaFrance


Builder: LaFrance Fire Engine Company, Elmira, New York

Manufacturer's Number: 386

Location: Museum

Condition: Good, preserved

Crew: 3, a Driver, Engineer and Stoker
Members of engine companies could and can be identified at fires and other emergencies by their all black helmets.

Service History:

1897   Engine Co. No. 26, 351 Second Avenue
1918   placed in a reserve engine status
1922   retired and keep on the Department's apparatus roster
1964   transferred to the museum

Upon its arrival in the City, this engine was assigned to Engine 26 at 351 Second Street in the inner Richmond District.  The company's journal for April 18, 1906 states, “Worked various fires.”  The next journal entry made three days later states, “returned to quarters.”  This journal is on display in the Museum's 1906 exhibit.  The engine remained with this company until it was placed in reserve in 1917, the time of the change over to motorized apparatus.

Listed above, under crew size, are a driver and a stoker, as only the driver and stoker of the company rode on the engine to alarms.  The remaining members used the companion company hose wagon to respond to calls of fire.

In general, the SFFD preferred to purchase the smaller 4th and 5th size steam engines and place them into the outlaying neighborhood firehouses.  These engines weighed half the tonnage of the larger 1st class 1,000 to 1,250 gpm engines that the Department placed into the downtown Financial District.  The smaller engines also were a benefit to the Department's many “hill companies”.  Returning the engines to quarters was at times quite a chore for the horses. Picture a five ton engine, supported on steel rimed wheels, being pulled up a steep cobblestone street by a team of horses on a raining day.

After retirement from active service in 1922, this engine was placed into inactive status and remained on the Department equipment roster.  The Veteran Fireman's Association paraded the unit over the years until it was moved to the Museum for its opening in 1964.

Engine 26 was paraded and displayed at the 1906 Expo with ten other California and Nevada steam engines.  The 1906 Expo had the largest gathering of steam engines on the west coast in modern times.

It is the plan of the SFFD Historical Society to maintain the engine in its preserved condition, and to rebuild the steam boiler and return it to working order.

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