Yakima Valley Museum
Manufacturer: Ahrens Manufacturing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio,

ahrens gauge
Knott Tube
Fire Engine
hose cart

In 1852 the first successful steam fire engine was built by Alexander B. Latta.  Chris Ahrens, a German immigrant, who came to America in 1853, assisted Latta in building the early fire engines.  Ahrens became superintendent of the Fire Engine Department of Lane & Bodley, and in 1868 acquired this branch of the business and built his own factory.

Prior to the steam engine, pumps were operated by manpower and all fire fighting was done by volunteers.  Latta’s horse drawn, steam powered pumper could be operated by a few men and permitted formation by Cincinnati of the first paid fire department in 1853. 

This steam fire engine was delivered to Tacoma, Washington on 9/21/1889.  Named Tacoma #4, it could steam in 3 minutes and 50 seconds.  It maintained 120# of steam and 260# of water pressure for one hour.  The original boiler has been replaced with a Nott spiral water-tube boiler.  This fire engine was later sold to North Yakima.

Spiral Water Tube Boiler
Manufacturer: Nott Fire Engine Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota
ca. 1900
The W. S. Nott Company incorporated in 1887 as a manufacturer of leather belting.  In 1901, the company decided to start manufacturing its own fire apparatus. H. E. Penney, former Assistant Master Mechanic of the Minneapolis Fire Department, was hired as the designer and general manager of the W.S. Nott Company.  In January, 1902, the Nott Fire Engine Company built a larger factory and Penney redesigned the Nott steamer in late 1902 with a spiral tube boiler.  The new boiler proved an outstanding success, resulting in additional orders to fit it to older steamers of other makes.  This Ahrens Steam Fire Engine has been refitted with a Nott Spiral Tube Boiler.  This system operates by heating tubes filled with water to create steam for the reciprocating engine.


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