The first fully mechanized fire department
Urban legend would have us believe that the honor of the first fully mechanized (or motorized) fire department in the United States goes to the fire department of Savannah, Georgia. In 1911, after the purchase and successful operation of the new American La France Auto Combination Chemical Wagon, Savannah’s City Council placed an order for 11 of the new apparatus to upgrade their entire department, thus making them the first fully mechanized fire department in the country. But were they really? By September of 1911 the West Haven Fire Department had accepted delivery of four Knox mechanized apparatus and had placed them in service in each of the four fire houses in town. Engine & Hose Company #1, North End Hose Company #3, and Savin Rock Hose Company #4 each received a Knox Chemical Combination Automobile Wagon and Hook & Ladder Company #1 received a Knox Three Wheel Tractor to pull it’s ladder wagon. Although Savannah had placed their order in 1911, delivery of the entire order would not be completed until 1912. The FIRST fully mechanized fire department in the United States, West Haven, CT, had their apparatus in service by the end of September, 1911.