CGFD buys first motorized fire apparatus

Friday, April 24, 2009
1916 Fire Engine (left) and Hook and Ladder (right)

By: Mike Ramsey

The Cape Girardeau Fire Department purchased an engine and a ladder truck six months after the deaths of two of the Fire Departments horses. The horses were electrocuted by a storm damaged downed wire while responding to a fire call at the Daily Republican Newspaper.

The department initially made due with the one remaining fire horse and a large delivery horse from the Dempsey Grocery Store. This apparatus purchase was also spurred by the city's largest fire on March 15, 1916 which included the Buckner Ragsdale Company, Houck Building, Riverview Hotel, Terminal Hotel and several other nearby buildings.

The engine and ladder truck were purchased from Robinson Company of St. Louis. The engine arrived at the Frisco yards in Cape Girardeau on December 7, 1916. The engine was nicknamed Jumbo due to its large size. The ladder arrived on December 14 and was of the service type with no aerial device.

The factory also sent an expert to train the department on the use of the truck. He was expected to remain for several weeks to a month for training. Chief Barney Kraft recommended increasing personnel from the current level of four to five or six in order to properly staff the new equipment.

The new fire apparatus had its first real test on New Year's morning at the barn of Tom Taylor in Lorimier Place. Chief Kraft said the splendid work of the engine helped save several nearby buildings. He was impressed with the speed of the trucks response to the fire 10 blocks away and the high water pressure of the fire pump.

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