Playing with Fire

Reader Mail

By Michael J. Legeros

Let's open the mailbag. 

Regarding last month's anecdotes about fire trucks too big for their stations, readers responded with stories of their own:  "My department in a Boston suburb purchased two new E-One 110' aerial ladders. One fit in Headquarters, but the other was just about 2 inches too tall for its station. On the first attempt, the overhead door was damaged.  The factory mirrors were also too wide. Off they came and the mechanic had to make custom mirrors.  And all this after the city already lowered the original floor 18 inches." 

Another reader related this tale:  "Several years ago, Chicago O'Hare ordered their first crash truck with the Snozzle boom. It fits into all of the stations just fine, but has some trouble fitting through the tunnel that goes under the runway / taxiway.  Every time it needs to get from one side of the airport to the other, it  switches over to the Control Tower radio frequency and acts like a plane asking for its place in line to cross the active runways.

Keith Hoskins also sent a story set in Central Missouri, while Gary Judd passed along this picture.

On the December subject of fire apparatus sites, Karen Kruse recommended It's her site, about her book, about a Chicago firehouse (and the engine and ambulance that Code 3 replicated).   "A Chicago Firehouse: Stories of Wrigleyville's Engine 78" is published by Arcadia Publishing-- the same people who are publishing a second book from Yours Truly.

The November column covered display cases, Matthew Schumman sent a photograph and a description of how he displays his Code 3 models:  "They are CD storage racks that were sold by IKEA and were under $100.00. The top, bottom, and back are made from white laminate-covered particleboard; the sides, front, and shelves are glass. There are 4 shelves in each unit plus the bottom. Each shelf accommodates 8-10 pumpers with the grill pointing out and about 6 rescues or aerials placed sideways. The units are about 3 feet tall, 12 inches deep, and very heavy."

Adding to the October column about favorite fire engine books.  Readers, including Steve McGuire and Tim Collins, responded with recommendations of their own:

  • Aerial Fire Trucks by Larry Shapiro (MBI/1999)

  • Crown Firecoach: 1951-1985 Photo Archive by Chuck Madderom (Iconografix/2001)

  • Fighting Fire Trucks by Larry Shapiro (MBI/1999)

  • Fire Rigs Fighting Fires by John F. Sytsma (John F. Sytsma/1982)

  • Hook and Ladders by Larry Shapiro (MBI/2002)

  • Maxim Fire Apparatus: 1914-1989 Photo Archive by Howard T. Smith (Iconografix / 2001)

  • Oshkosh Trucks: 75 Years of Specialty Truck Production by David K. Wright and Clarence J. Jungwirth. (MBI / 2000)

  • Pumpers: Workhorse Fire Engines by Larry Shapiro (MBI/1999)

Another reader of October's column inquired about Fire Apparatus Journal subscription information.  See

Finally, on September's subject of photographing models, Chris Huff corrected my compression rates typo. I meant 0% to 20%, not 100% to 80%. D'oh!

A version of this column originally appeared at Code 3 Collectibles.


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Copyright 2017 by Michael J. Legeros