Fire Truck Classic: 1941 Ford With Howe Body – Hey Buddy, Where’s The Fire?


It looks like today is going to be an improptu “Old Truck Day” here at CC, which is timely, as I shot this 1941 Ford fire truck just yesterday (be careful, the pixels are still wet).


The Howe company was founded in 1872 after the horrible fires and loss of life in five different major US fires in 1871, including the Great Chicago Fire. Their first product was a piston-pump fire wagon that could be operated by a team of twenty men or by the team of horses that had drawn it to the fire. The pump design was so good, it remained in production over one hundred years.


Manually-operated pumps eventually gave way to gasoline engine pumps, and Howe kept right up with the latest technology, introducing their first vehicle-mounted pump for sale in 1908. As the company grew, they moved to Anderson, Indiana to produce fire trucks on Lambert chassis. Ironically, their offices burned down due to a pot-bellied stove catching fire. Howe alternated between building vehicles on custom chassis and using commercial chassis such as this Ford.


Howe produced fire apparatus during both World Wars, and specialized in small- to medium-sized community and private fire operations like those mounted by airports and corporations. The company survived through four generations before having to cease operations in 1978 (after being purchased by Grumman Industries) due to faltering sales after the government ended revenue sharing for the purchase of fire equipment. Howe branded trucks were continued to be produced by Grumman through 1982.


This truck has long been retired from “active duty,” but would make a great parade vehicle (heck, I’d get a kick out of driving it to work every so often!). Hopefully someone will pick it up soon and do just that.