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Long Beach California Fire Department Vehicle Images: Part II

Recently we posted a photo of a Long Beach California Fire Chief posing with his Graham-Paige phaeton “Fire Car.” Thanks to reader Michael E. Keller for making us aware of the source of the image today’s post contains more pictures of the car, a second Graham-Paige Model 629 with LeBaron coachwork, and a late-1920s Cadillac “Fire Car” also outfitted with Woodlites, a Bright Bumper, and a siren.

After viewing the photos is now known that a larger version of the Bright Bumper was produced for trucks and one is visible in the second picture (below) on a 1920s LBFD White fire truck.

Share with us what you find of interest in these pictures from the Long Beach Firemen’s Collection at the CSUDH Photograph Collection.

  • A LBFD Ahrens-Fox fire truck on the left and the second Graham-Paige phaeton with a painted Bright Bumper tube with chrome-plated lights. The accessory bumper was also offered in all black paint.

  • The truck version of the Bright Bumper on a White fire truck on the left at LBFD Fire Station No 1 located at 210 West 3rd Street.

  • LBFD Engine and  Graham-Paige “Fire Car” in front of  Fired Station No.3 located at 1929 Appleton Street.

13 responses to “Long Beach California Fire Department Vehicle Images: Part II

  1. Any idea why they used Woodlights?
    Looks?
    The current collective opinion seems to be they aren’t very effective as headlights, if correct, why did the department use them?

    The bright bumper is a neat idea ….though likely to be damaged by careless parallel parking.
    If one had a period car it would be fun to find and install one.

    • When new the lights performed very well in comparison to other period headlamps and still do today if restored correctly. The department used the lights on the fire chiefs cars so they had a better view of the road while racing to a fire.

    • Hi John, I was wondering that too. Back then, the only way to have a brighter light, it seems, was to make it bigger. I’m wondering, being so small, even by todays LED standards, what kind of pattern the Woodlites had. Seems they wouldn’t have had the technology to create a bright bulb in a small housing like that. Anybody?

  2. I wanted our towns 56 Ford fire truck so bad when they sold it, thinking it was one of the most outstanding sounding and looking things in town, but WOW, these are so gorgeous ! I bet a modern “pump” repair man would have a stroke if someone brought him one of those with that giant apparatus on the front ! Thanks so much David !

  3. I think that the men posing with the vehicles are drivers/firefighters. The Chief is most likely the fellow with the all white hat. The wooden fire station is a through back to simpler times. Great photos as always.

  4. Long Beach bought eight of these Ahrens-Fox piston pumpers between 1922 and 1929. remarkably, 6 of the 8 still survive. I have seen and photographed all 6 survivors. Long Beach Fire Museum has 4 of those 6 (3 retsored and one badly in need of restoration). The other two are at Sacramento and Chowchilla, CA, both in rough but restorable condition.

  5. For those wondering about the large chromed sphere on the front of the Ahrens- Fox:

    Most fire pumpers employed a centrifugal pump which had the ability to let air pass by the impeller(s). Early Ahrens-Fox trucks used a positive displacement piston pump and the sphere enabled the air to compress and stabilize the outgoing pressure of the water.

  6. I lived a block away on Appleton, some years back. The entire area was destroyed by the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, and rebuilt as apartment buildings. I wonder how the #3 fire station and equipment fared, as the site was rebuilt into apartments in the ’30s.

  7. Two 1929 Graham-Paige 629 LeBaron phaetons and a 1926 Cadillac 314 touring fire chief cars, Long Beach wasn’t skimpy when it came to providing fine cars for their officers. Wonder if any have survived?

  8. We must thank the original photographers who created these great photographs. These were not just snapshots. Unlike today’s digital cameras, these photographers worked with relatively primitive large-format equipment and slow film, which required knowledge of light, tones, lens capabilities, and more. I often look at old photos and wonder why so many of today’s photographs are so poor in comparison. As with old cars, it’s all about skills.

  9. Outstanding images.What a wonderful glimpse back in time. Thanks to those thoughtful enough to share and comment

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