Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

Originally Water Tower Truck Company No.24 assigned to Fire Station 3

WATER TOWER Number Three

By Harold Inlow

In 1938, the Los Angeles Fire Department took delivery on a new American-La France Water Tower Truck. This apparatus, Shop No. 1085, was assigned to 24's and officially designated as Water Tower Truck Company No.24.

Shop No. 1085 was a combination water tower and City Service truck. The mast could be raised to a height of nearly 65 feet above street level and the ladders carried ranged from "Baby Bangors" to a 50 foot Bangor, comparable to the amount carried by City Service Trucks.

Water Tower Truck 24 responded to alarms as a City Service Truck and on special calls as a Water Tower. It was kept in active service until late 1944 when the constant depletion of the Fire Department personnel, due to the late war, forced the department to disband this company. The main reason prompting this action was that a City Service Truck proved to be inadequate for a first alarm Truck Company assignment in industrial areas and the lace of necessary manpower required to operate the Water Tower as a separate company. In 1945, Shop No. 1085 was replaced by a Seagrave 85 foot Aerial Truck, and the Water Tower was placed in reserve, responding with a skeleton crew to special calls.

After the cessation of hostilities and our manpower increased by the appointment of new firemen, it was decided to leave the Seagrave Aerial at 24's and to remodel Shop No. 1085 into a modern up-to-date Water Tower, without ladders, to respond as a fully-manned company in the high value district.

The Water Tower was sent to the Fire Department shops where the conversion was made. At the shops, all ladders were removed from the apparatus and a metal deck was placed on the bed of the truck where the forcible entry equipment was carried and the mast, which heretofore couldn't be lowered to a complete horizontal position, was lowered to give better vision to the Tillerman. Two permanently mounted turrets were added. One just aft of the turntable, the other on the Tiller platform to the left of the Tillerman. A portable deluge set was installed in the center of the truck bed and intake manifolds were built to supply the turrets.

Although the mast is still raised and lowered manually, the locking device has been vastly improved. The former method of relying upon a friction type brake applied to the mast cable drum has been eliminated and in its place a double ratchet lock has been devised. The double ratchet allows the tower to be locked at any vertical height securing the mast so that it will not extend while under pressure nor lower by gravity. Due to a new and ingenious method of using a double pin lick for the turntable, the mast may be operated in a horizontal position, if desired.

While the tower nozzle is being operated on fires in upper stories, out of reach of Wagon Batteries and hand lines, the portable deluge set and the turrets can be used simultaneously on fires involving lower floors.

The job of remodeling and testing Shop No. 1085 is now completed and what is considered, by the Chief Officers of the Los Angeles Fire Department, to be the finest designed Water Tower Truck in this country is now ready for service. At the present time, it is stored at Engine Company 19 awaiting assignment to Headquarters as Water Tower Co. No.3. When placed into service, Water Tower 3, will be manned by a Captain, two Auto-Firemen and the necessary amount of Firemen to efficiently operate this apparatus.

This article appeared in the March, 1948 issue of The Firemen's Grapevine.

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