Siloam's First Motorized Fire Truck

This week’s featured photo was donated to the museum in 1974 and shows Siloam Springs’ first motorized fire truck. According to a receipt associated with the truck, the Siloam Springs Fire Department purchased this American LaFrance Type 40 on April 5, 1921. The truck is about twenty feet long, carries a forty gallon water tank, and is powered by a four cylinder T-head engine. It left Siloam for many years, making its home in Texas. Recently, however, the Siloam Springs Fire Department reacquired the truck; it is currently housed in Fire Station No. 2 as the department works to make the truck parade-ready.

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When the truck was purchased, the Siloam Springs Fire Department was housed in the first floor of the building pictured below. The first floor of the building housed the fire and police departments, the second floor housed the city offices and the library, and the third floor was the city’s hospital.

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This building stood until around 1965, and Fire Station No. 1 was built in 1967 at the same location. Fire Station No. 1 was later redesignated Fire Station No. 2 and still serves Siloam Springs on Mount Olive Street.

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Fire Station No. 1 is now located on Cheri Whitlock Drive. Today, the fire department uses many different vehicles and vehicle types. When most people think of a fire department vehicle, they picture a ladder truck. Last year, the department bought two new ladder trucks to serve Siloam Springs. These trucks are vastly different from the Type 40. The ladder trucks are thirty-seven feet long, just over eleven feet tall, and powered by 500 horsepower Cummins diesel engines. They are each equipped with a 380 gallon water tank accompanied by a 20 gallon foam tank. Seventy-eight foot ladders allow firefighters to rescue people from Siloam’s tallest buildings.

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Today, the Siloam Springs Fire Department is equipped with the latest technology to keep Siloam Springs and those in the surrounding area safe. The department’s coverage stretches as far north as Decatur, as far east and as far south as the Washington County line, and protrudes west into Oklahoma, totaling 178 square miles.

The Siloam Springs Museum thanks the Siloam Springs Fire Department for allowing access to their facilities and the following people for the information included in the article: EMS Director Brent Ford, Lt. Kevin Smith (ret.), Firefighter Matt Thompson, Firefighter Garrett Bush, and Firefighter Jeremy Barr.

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Written by Chuck McClary. Information provided by Siloam Springs Museum archives, Images of America: Siloam Springs by Don Warden, and the Siloam Springs Fire Department.