You never know what you are going to see out and about, and while it may not strictly be a ‘convertible’ it certainly has a rag top and I don’t think anyone will dismiss this from Convertible Week!
A convertible fire truck is one of those things that is a bad idea in hindsight, but automobiles did not have fixed roofs to start with, and a fire truck was not built with long distance touring comfort in mind! Another detail that is not obvious unless you know your old fire appliances is that what looks like a cyclops headlight is actually a siren.
Now, who is going to see another one thanks to the CC Effect?
Were they ever really convertibles though, or just topless? This appears to be a cheap solution for a roof more than anything.
edit: oops, missed the first part.
I do wonder why convertible fire trucks persisted so long; into the ’60s in some cases. Maybe it was percieved as faster to get in and out of? There’s probably some truth to that, as you don’t have to duck to get in, but those fractional seconds probably aren’t worth the tradeoffs (i.e. rain falling into the cabin while you are trying to drive).
It’s not as if the firemen are afraid to get wet. 🙂
From what I have found there was not a single reason, but there are several possibilities including:
Ease of getting in and out
Spotting the fire and surveying the scene
Spite (if I have to be out in the elements standing on the bumper, the driver should be as well)
Not kidding on the last one either, evidently that was sometimes the case.
I also found that one of the reasons they fell out of favor was due to the danger during civil unrest.
Another reason that open cab trucks were popular is that defrosters and windshield wipers weren’t so great back in the day. An enclosed cab exacerbated the defrost issues (particularly if the guys inside were wet after a fire) and if you were at WOT for long periods with vacuum wipers, the open cab also at least gave you the option to look over the windshield.
It was definitely the major riots of the 1960s — particularly the Detroit and Watts riots — that led to the rapid demise of the open cab. After seeing bricks and bottles (and worse) being hurled at firefighters on the evening news, it was pretty clear that firefighters needed protection from above and a place of safe retreat in case of unrest.
The center thing is actually a Siren……
Getting it ready for the 4th of July parade I imagine .
Unlikely a July 4 preparation. That photo appears to have been taken in a country not in North America–note the license plates.
The license plate looks to me like a historic vehicle plate from one of the Australian states.
I have fun memories of our old 1929 Chevrolet Pumper , riding the back bumper and doing annual out put tests down at the edge of Lower Lake…
Fun times .
Thanks for the correction Nate, I had seen other fire appliances with front hose outlets so I made an assumption with predictable results…
Yes it is a Victorian historic permit, hence my comments about the usage conditions, abusing the system is the sort of thing that creates opposition to it.
Wow, but I would hate to be the guy paying for the fill-up on this monster! And those 700+ cubic inches probably gulp fuel at an impressive rate. I hate to think of how many gallons that (those?) tank(s) hold.
Nothing says classic fire apparatus like an open air cab. Like with cars, they evolved from horse drawn vehicles and didn’t have tops for a long time. Enclosed cabs didn’t come into service until about the 40 ‘ s and weren’t common before the 60’s. Open cabs are good for visualizing a scene enroute and looking and smelling for smoke. Firefighters are traditionalists by nature, so the adoption of covered cabs was slow. In addition to general safety issues, open cabs became a problem in big cities in the 60’s and 70’s with civil unrest and the deterioration of inner cities. People would throw things down on firemen, like bricks and bottles. Many cities put shop made roofs over the cab and rear steps to protect the firemen.
Also, the cabs were generally 2 man seating for the driver and captain. The other firefighters rode on the tailboard. The captain is the only one with any sway in the department, so I doubt the open tops were kept for spite on his part!
Nowadays, fire departments run EMS calls, automated alarms and just generally drive around alot more, so besides safety issues, comfort is more of an issue than in the old days when they only drove to fires.
Best ragtop so far.
Theres a pic of a Seagrave V12 on the cohort I found one out of the truck in a collection.
This is from a ’50 model. Imagine trying to keep all those plug wires sorted out!
Those V12’s I believe are actually of Pierce Arrow design from the 30’s, and these trucks were known as the “70th Anniversary Series”. I believe they were made from the early 50s to the late 60s and the Detroit FD was a regular customer. I think thats why some of these ‘graves are known as “sedan cabs” due to special orders from the DFD. I also think that big sireeen ran off the crank…