Guardians of The City SFFD Home Page - San Francisco Fire Department Museum
Museum Collections: Apparatus - Engine Co. No. 22:

1893 LaFrance, a 4th size, double 550 gpm, steam engine



Click on the first image to start the slide show.

Builder: LaFrance Fire Engine Company, Elmira, New York

Manufacturer's Number: 270

Location: Museum

Condition: Very Good, restored

Crew: 2, a Driver and an Engineer
Only the driver and engineer of the company rode on the engine to alarms.  The remaining members used the companion company hose wagon to respond to calls of alarm.  Once at the fire ground, the driver cared for the horses and then became the stoker of the engine, assisting the engineer.

Members of the engine companies could and can be identified at fires and other emergencies by their all black helmets.  Captains and Lieutenants were identified by their white front shields with black and red lettering showing their rank, company assignment and their initials.  The front shields of firemen were black with white and red lettering showing their company assignment and their initials.

Service History:

1893   Engine Co. No. 22 - 1819 Post Street
1900   Engine Co. No. 36 - 720 Cliff Avenue
1915   Engine Co. No. 45  - 1348 - 45th Avenue
1922   Retired and sold at the surplus City property auction

Upon arrival from the LaFrance Company in Elmira, New York, this steam engine was assigned to Engine Company 22 located at 1819 Post Street in the Western Addition.  In 1900 it was transferred to Engine Co. No.36, 720 Cliff Avenue near the ocean, not too far from the Cliff House in the outer Richmond district.  There are no department records of what action the company responded to in the 1906 Fire.  In 1915 the engine was reassigned to Engine Co. No. 45, in the outer Sunset District.

By 1922 the Department had completed the conversion from horse drawn apparatus to motorized units.  This engine was sold at public auction to the Simpson family of Hood, California, who planned to use it to pump water from the Sacramento River into their vast pear orchards.  Before the engine was placed into farm operation, the family realized the value of the engine as an antique.  They stored the engine in their barn until the early 1970's when Michael Simpson entered into a loan and restoration agreement with the museum at the San Francisco US Mint at 5th and Mission Streets.  During the next four years the engine was restored to its original pristine condition, with the exception of rebuilding the boiler.  The gold leafing and surrounding paint embellishments were completed by a retired gold leaf expert from the City and County Central Fire Shops, who had worked on steam engines as an apprentice.

The Simpson family offered the engine for sale in 1987, and the Department purchased it for $85,000, quite a bit more than the original purchase price from LaFrance.

Engine 22 was paraded and displayed at the 1906 Expo with ten other California and Nevada steam engines.  The 1906 Expo had the largest gathering of steam engines on the west coast in modern times.

It is the plan of the SFFD Historical Society to rebuild the steam boiler and return the engine to working order.

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