Tagged: fire apparatus

Week 38 – Fire engine geekery

For years I was a fire apparatus nerd.  I collected photos and specs; I knew all sorts of minute details. Over time the drive to shoot and collect has waned, but I can still identify most of the classic makes and models from a block away.

Today I look at fire engines differently when I visit places.  The composition and condition of a fleet tells me interesting things about a department.  The number and type of apparatus signifies a lot about the response conditions they face; the age tells a lot about the support they get from their community; and the condition tells me things about their pride and morale.

On day one of my Adirondack trip the Otter Lake Fire Department hosted us for lunch.  I enjoyed nosing around their fleet.  While a bit on the older side their  1 engine, 2 tankers, mini-pumper and rescue were well maintained and housed in a clean, modern station.  They seemed to be a well-organized and proud rural department.  Rock on, guys.

Camera: Leica M3

Lens: 50mm Summilux

Film: Ilford HP5+

Developed and scanned at home.

Pickup

This past week we had a bit of a tragedy in the yard. A storm brought down a large pine which grazed the 1963 Ford/ALF. It was a freak thing; 2 feet one way would have been a complete miss, 2 feet the other would have crushed the cab.

The body isn't totalled, but it needs serious repair. I won't show it here as it's heartbreaking. It needed some serious work beforehand. We mourned, and then we began to think of options and possibilities.

The chassis is still in good shape. Flatbed? Mobile hot tub? The ultimate tailgating machine? Hay truck? Then Mrs. Mack505 found this:

 

I want one!

 

Week 24 Results – Minolta 600si

I confess I was lazy this week, shooting mostly in full automatic mode with a bit of aperture priority when I was working with depth of field.

The 600si is a tank of a camera. I haven’t weighed it, but it just feels heavy in spite of its mostly plastic construction. Occasionally it would refuse to focus, but I chalked that up to the dodgy lens. Repeating the attempt always fixed the problem.

I shot a roll of Portra pushed two stops. I did this in order to shoot at the New York State Museum without a flash. It’s an incredible place. My primary attraction was the Fire Engine Hall, which contains the only known surviving Ahrens-Fox from New York City. It also showcases many of the major historic manufacturers who were headquartered in New York State.

The Fire Engine Hall is located next to Metropolis Hall. What would you expect where fire engines intersect with Metropolis?

This:

It’s a shocking sight to the unsuspecting. This is not a model or a replica. Engine 6 was one of the first engines at the World Trade Center on 9/11/01. Seven members responded that morning; only three returned. I can stand in reverent silence here all day.

Around the corner on the edge of the Fire Engine Hall stands this memorial. Though lesser known and a late addition to the 9/11 exhibit, Ambulance 485 also suffered tragedy that day. Two paramedics responded, one returned. The ambulance survived in service although it still bears the scuffs and scars of that day.

In the Hall itself, this American LaFrance is a lost ancestor of the modern fire engine. The JO/JOX series were built immediately prior to WWII and showed the first steps between the classic styles of the 1930s and the more ergonomic designs of the 1950s. Production was interrupted by the war, and the more advanced 700 Series replaced them when production resumed in the late 1940s.

The Hall is difficult to shoot without a tripod. The walls and backgrounds are flat black. Even at 1600 ASA, shutter speeds were slow and depth of field short.

 

The museum is more than just fire engines. Make sure you see and ride the antique carousel upstairs.

For the end of the roll, we left the museum. This is Saffron, one of our current foster kitties. She and her two sisters are looking for the right Forever Home.

Lower Zone, a closeup from a demonstrator that visited the firehouse last week.

If you have the chance to pick up a Minolta 600si, I highly recommend it. If you are anywhere near Albany, take an hour or two at the museum. It’s free. You won’t regret it.

 

Nostalgia again

The tones drop, just like they have for the majority of my life. I've reached the point where I've been a firefighter for more of my life than not. (Scary thought, that.) A box alarm; routine. At least it's not another medical aid.

Circumstances conspire: maintenance, a detail. The first engine responds as usual, but the second piece will be the Reserve. As I dress I have a clear view across the empty ladder bay to where she gleams in the corner, the last red engine in our slowly whitening fleet. I confess a soft spot for her, as she's been around only slightly longer than I. We were rookies together.

The Captain and the Deputy are both riding tonight and they outrank me in terms of both bugles and service. I climb up into the canopy and take my seat, facing rearwards. A recruit fills the final seat, and I wonder if he fully appreciates this treat. The Captain flips a switch and bells (real genuine BELLS) fill the air warning of Low Oil Pressure!!! and other malfunctions. The Detroit diesel shudders to life in a cacophony of sound garnished with a puff of black smoke. The Deputy flips a switch; a solid THUNK announces that three monster relays have engaged three banks of spinning and blinking halogen lights. Cap drops the shift lever (a lever!) into Drive, and our faithful steed strains against her parking brakes. With a whoosh of escaping air, we flow down the ramp into the night.

I am transported, across town and across a career.

 

May randomness (P366)

 

5/8 – In the checkout line, wondering why Nostradamus looks like an angry Sean Connery.

 

5/9 – Charter Hose No. 1

5/10 – Beth learning to handle a manual TLR, in this case a Super Ricohflex.

 

5/10 – The Vegetable Garden @ Castle Hill

 

5/12 – Requiem for a picnic table. This one came into the family around 1975. It had finally rotted to the point of being dangerous. With company due this weekend it was time for it to go. Bring on the chainsaw.

 

5/14 – cool thrift store find: a Minolta Uniomat. More about this later.

 

I told you I photograph fire engines (P366)

2/20 – In traffic behind Revere Ladder 2. It’s always impressive following a TDA. I think they were headed out for service, as this was taken near the entrance to the Ted Williams Tunnel. It’s not exactly in their first-due.

2/21 – still in the camera

2/22 – There’s something cool and retro here. Mid-90’s Ford, utility body, candy striped light bar; it’s a throwback to the days when Rescue wasn’t about who got the biggest federal grant for the most toys. I just like it, I guess.

 

Retro

As mentioned previously, I’ve been shooting a bit on real film. I learned photography on a manual 35mm camera, shooting and developing my own film. Sometimes it’s fun to go back.

 

January 12 – At the firehouse. You don’t see folding controls very often, but even when folded these barely clear the doors.

 

January 13 – ALS

Shot on a Nikon FM2 with 50mm manual lens. Thanks to OldSchoolPhotoLab.com for developing and scanning for me. Not many folks can handle Tmax 400 any more.

Fire and ice, and a dog. (Project 366)

January 21 – Home alone for the evening, lounging in front of the pellet stove.

January 22 – Cold day at work.  This grew throughout the day.  I kept waiting for the rig to hit it on the way out the door.

 

January 23 – My family says the dog is a good luck charm and she has to wear the shirt through the Superbowl.  Cricket is not impressed.

January 24 – The Howe is finally safe at home.  The trip was much longer and more expensive than planned.  Details to follow.

 

 That’s her older sister, Engine 2, in the background.

 I sure wish I had those ladders.