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Engines & Other Apparatus of the Milwaukee Fire Department

By John Malecky, Senior Columnist | April 01, 2021 | NEW JERSEY

Story No. 041021106


By John M. Malecky June, 2021

Engines and Other Apparatus of the Milwaukee Fire Department
An Illustrated History
By Wayne Mutza

Available from:
FSP Books & Videos
433 Main Street
Hudson, MA, 01749

Price: $49.95

This book is soft cover, with 310 pages within 11 chapters. The author is a retired member of the Milwaukee Fire Department. I actually met him in 1977 when he gave a talk at fire headquarters to a group of fire buffs who were attending their convention in the city. He reminded me of myself that is a young firefighter devoted to the job!

This book was compiled by a full page of acknowledgements of equally dedicated people who contributed to not only a full range of Milwaukee apparatus, but a history of it. If there is anything missing in this book it is because it simply was not available when the publication was put together!

Of the 11 chapters, the first dealt of course with apparatus manually pulled by the brute strength of individuals. The second chapter, “Horsepower”, addresses just that. The utilization of horses to pull apparatus was partly due to the dwindling ranks of manpower to respond. On page 21, however is a second sized, self propelled engine being driven down a street with heavy smoke coming from its stack. For a number of reasons it did not last more than about two years and I invite you to read why. They are interesting! This chapter covers water towers and fireboats but before it ends on page 48, on page 47 there is a photo of a sleigh which apparently were abundant in the fire department and were utilized when steam fire engines could not get through. The hose they carried were connected directly to hydrants. Before this chapter is finished I should mention the Buestrin escape ladder, which was 95-feet in length. It was designed by the man of that name and there is an impressive photo of it in the chapter. According to what is written, it was never utilized to its full potential. However in chapter 3 is a story of its own about “Maggie”, a rear-mounted wooden aerial built by the German company, Magirus. When the chief at the time learned about it he travelled to the town that owned one (Gary Indiana) and ended up ordering one. In 1977 when I first went to Milwaukee I was at the private museum of Keith Franz, an active Milwaukee buff, and he had the aerial in storage minus the truck.

There is insufficient room to write about the value of this book to apparatus buffs and historians to name a few. I can only say it is packed with black and white photos of all kinds of apparatus, including those that were operated by specialized departments, and also the last chapter which has MFD apparatus which ended up after being retired. In short, to anyone interested in apparatus, this is one for your library!

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.