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Guess the ladder truck - UPDATED

A reader in the US has sent us an historic photograph from the early 1940s of an fire/rescue aerial ladder truck.

The photo was taken in the early 1940s shortly after fire chief Albert E. Homann of the La Porte Fire Department took delivery of the new aerial ladder truck. Homann is seen standing on the truck with assistant chief Elmer Glafke to the side.

As its Friday, we thought we would see if anyone was able to 1) name the manufacturer 2) guess at the working height and 3) decide whether it qualifies as a Death Wish even though those were different times when it came to health and safety.

We will reveal the answers on Monday.
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Photo courtesy of La Porte Country Historical Society Museum

Have a great weekend.


Top marks to Benji who hit the nail on the head with his comment. It was in fact a Peter Pirsch & Sons aerial ladder truck, built in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and it offered a working height of 65ft/20 metres.

In 1899, while working at his father's carriage manufacturing business and volunteering for the Kenosha, Wisconsin fire department, Peter Pirsch received the patent for the trussed extension ladder, a marked improvement upon the older, solid ladders that firemen had been using up to that point. With patent in hand, he founded Peter Pirsch & Sons in 1900.

The first motorised ladder truck was on a Rambler chassis, and this was followed by others based on Couple Gear, White, Duplex, Nash and Dodge.


Well given the age of this photo it must have been one of the earliest ladder trucks - and if it’s in La Porte then that would put it not far from Pirsch & Sons factory.

The height of those men probably put this somewhere at 60 - 70ft.

I think given the days they were back then, this is most definitely not a death wish. Certainly not compared to what men did back in those days during the World Wars.

Given Pirsch & Sons made fire fighting equipment I’d say it was pretty damned dangerous already - can’t think of a much faster or safer alternative to rescue available back then, and ultimately we still attach ladders to firetrucks, albeit with some enhancements.

Oct 2, 2021

I guess it,s about a 15 m. workingheight unit. Safety ? well in this picture, it stands rather close tom powerlines. To be used, I can not detect any outriggers, so you must have been brave to climb on it-

Oct 2, 2021