Retired Bower Hill VFD Apparatus
Bower Hill Fire Department entered service with no motorized fire apparatus. This 1917 hand-drawn hose cart served as the department's only wheeled firefighting vehicle for several months in 1924 and 1925. It is shown here in front of the original fire station right after delivery, with no hose installed.
This 1924 Ford Model T chassis with a Howe Combination Chemical and Hose Car was the first motorized apparatus purchased by the department in 1925. It is unknown if the chassis was new or used (it was a 1924 model, bought in early 1925), and it was evidently unsuited for the department's service, since it remained on the roster little more than one year.
The department was extremely proud of this 1926 International Combination Chemical and Hose Car. It served Bower Hill until 1944. This builder's photo of this vehicle was used by International in its advertising literature in 1927, and also appears on page 99 of the book American Fire Engines Since 1900 by Walter McCall.
During World War II, the venerable International fell victim to mechanical failure and parts shortages. It took Bower Hill two years of requests to the War Production Board to get approval to buy this 1942 White chassis and have an American Fire Apparatus body and pump installed.
In 1954, the department received a 1948 GMC Panel Truck from the Pennsylvania Boys Reformatory in South Fayette. This became Bower Hill's first Ambulance. No pictures of this vehicle have been found. If you have one, let us know.
In 1956, Bower Hill purchased a 1946 Jeep CJ2A chassis. A 10KW generator, flood lights and storage boxes for rescue equipment were installed by members of the department. Again, no pictures of this vehicle have surfaced. If you have one, let us know.
This 1957 American LaFrance Invader pumper served until 1977. The original 12-cylinder American LaFrance Model J engine was replaced with a Ford V8 from a retired school bus in 1970. Department members did the engine change.
In 1960, the department replaced both the 1948 GMC ambulance and the 1942 White pumper. This 1960 GMC Panel Truck had a small pump, water tank, and booster reel as well as a patient compartment with a squad bench, a wheeled ambulance cot and medical equipment storage. Malenock's Garage in McKees Rocks built several of these vehicles for local fire departments, including one for Kirwan Heights VFD, which is Bower Hill's closest neighbor, right across Chartiers Creek.
In 1962, the department was able to purchase a 20KW generator, which was designed for an industrial user, but which failed to meet their needs and was put up for sale. The department had it installed in a Stahl utility body, and this was installed on a 1962 Jeep FC-170 chassis. This vehicle was notable for its lack of a muffler on its straight vertical exhaust stack. It became a regional resource vehicle, providing electrical power at major incidents throughout Allegheny County.
This 1969 Cadillac with a Superior Coach ambulance body was the first Bower Hill vehicle to be equipped with an automatic transmission, and it was the department's first vehicle that was commercially designed to be an ambulance. When it arrived, the 1960 GMC was relegated to backup Ambulance duties, and Squad and Booster Pumper service.
This 1970 Ford chassis with an American Fire Apparatus body and pump was a one-of-a-kind vehicle. It had been the demonstrator for American's "Aqua-Jet" elevated deluge nozzle, and it was equipped with all-hydraulic water valves, a high-pressure pump and fog nozzles, a hydraulic engine retarder, Mico-lock brake locks, and a "Transmatic" automatic transmission. It was extensively rebuilt by members of the department in 1981, with a new body by Doerr Brothers of Pittsburgh.
This 1973 Ford with a Pierce PDQ mini-pumper body replaced both the 1960 GMC and the 1962 Jeep. It had a PTO operated pump capable of "pump-and-go" operation. It, too, was extensively modified during its service life as the mini-pumper concept took a back seat to rescue capabilities. This was the last vehicle the department owned that was equipped with a manual transmission, and the last pumper to date to have a gasoline engine.
The longest-serving vehicle in the department's history is this 1977 American LaFrance Century Series Triple Combination Pumper. It was on the BHVFD roster from August 13, 1977 to January 19, 2008. It was the first diesel-powered vehicle for the department, and the last to date to have ground-level pump panel. Like its predecessors, it saw some modification over its career, but not to the same extent, since the original design was almost perfectly suited to the department's needs.
This 1978 Dodge van with a Wayne Coach conversion was the first GSA-spec compliant ambulance for Bower Hill. During its time in service, the department progressed from having an EMT on some calls, sometimes, to an ALS ambulance service.
Ambulances saw many more miles per year in service than fire engines in Bower Hill. This 1984 Ford with a Yankee Coach conversion replaced the 1978 Dodge in front-line service. It was the last gasoline-powered ambulance to be purchased by the department
This 1992 Sutphen Triple Combination Pumper served for twenty years as a first-out engine, a reserve engine, and for RIT response. It was the department's first engine to be equipped with a pre-piped foam system, the first to have a fully-enclosed cab and the last to date to have a mounted deluge gun. Though its appearance changed several times during its years of service, its configuration remained unchanged.
The last ambulance to be operated solely by Bower Hill was this 1994 Ford with a KJT Sentinel conversion. It was assigned to Scott Township EMS in 1997, though it kept the Bower Hill name in the red stripe on its side until it was retired.
This 1995 Chevrolet K3500 four-wheel drive pickup was used as a general utility vehicle and for responses to Carbon Monoxide alarms, pumping details and service calls, as well as for transportation to fire schools and meetings.
This 2000 Ford Explorer became the department's first dedicated command vehicle. It was equipped with command and communications equipment, and was assigned to the fire chief, or in his absence, the next ranking officer, for department command use.
This 2007 Ford Explorer replaced the 2000 model in the same service.
Click Here to see retired ambulances owned by Bower Hill or co-owned by Bower Hill and Glendale Hose Co. No. 1 that were used by Scott Township EMS.