Engine 207 and 110 Truck
Photo by LARRY WOODCOCK
In the New York City Fire Department’s 150 year history, many innovations have taken place from equipment to apparatus to procedures. Some of the strategies and operations were adopted and became policy by departments all over the United States and perhaps parts of the world.
Some equipment the department no longer uses on a daily basis has become the talk of days and times gone by.
One of the most discussed and remembered symbols of the department is the super pumper. The super pumper was placed in service on October 1,1965 after almost two years of design and delivery.
Designed by William Gibbs, a renowned naval architect who came up with the idea of a “land fireboat,” approached the FDNY with his concept. The department was very intrigued by the high-pressure pumper, especially after a series of big fires on Staten Island in 1963 that were made worse by prolonged water shortages due to drought and poor water mains.
The fire required many companies to ferry over from Brooklyn and Manhattan. The selling point was that the pumper could have drafted from the bay and provide an unlimited supply of water at high volumes.
A 16-cyclinder engine could power the six-stage pump, driven by an astonishing 2200 horsepower, capable of 10,000 gallons per minute. It would be an 18-wheeler with a length of 43 feet and weigh 68,000 pounds with a two-seat cab.
The second piece, a tender would carry 5,000 feet of 4 ½ hose and have an 8 inch stang tip that could be interchanged over to tips of 3, 4, 5 and a 2000 gallon per minute fog tip.
In order to counteract tremendous nozzle reaction, outriggers were placed on each side directly behind the cab. Its overall length was 41 feet, weighing 60,000 pounds and have an identical height of 11’4”.
Both units could respond in conjunction with each other. The cost at the time to build was an astounding $875,000. Several hearings with the city council were held to justify the expense.
Originally housed on Hooper Street at 211 & 119, they relocated to Downtown Brooklyn in the Fort Greene section at 207 Engine and 110 Truck on Tillary Street in April of 1972.
Located in the center of Downtown Brooklyn and in the shadows of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, this fire house was completed in 1971 and has a much more modern contemporary look. Its large size is very different from the traditional firehouses seen in New York City.
It was built to incorporate multiple units when it first opened, as well as today.
The super pumper operated at many multiple alarm fires and high profile events during its time in service.
It reached mythical status with firefighters and buffs from all over the United States as well as the world. People traveled to New York City just to take pictures and hopefully see it in action.
The super pumper was taken out of service and disbanded on July 1st, 1975 ending a short tenure that is talked about until today.
Over the years, the super pumper was bought and restored by several collectors throughout the United States and still lives on.
One wish I have heard from many, myself included, was that the city should have retired it and placed it on display at the fire museum or at the fire academy. It was a special part of the fire department’s colorful past and history that should always be remembered.
The fire house still bears the name of the super pumper and tender above the apparatus doors as a tribute to a period in time not forgotten.
Engine 207 was organized as Brooklyn Fire Department Engine 7 on September 15, 1869. It is located at 245 Pearl Street.
It changed over to Engine 107 in 1899 and then Engine 207 in 1913. They moved to 365 Jay Street in 1946 before moving to their present house in 1971.
Ladder 110 was organized as Brooklyn Fire Department Ladder 10 on August 1, 1891 located at 264 State Street. It changed over to Ladder 60 in 1899 and then to Ladder 110 in 1913. They moved to 365 Jay Street in 1949 before moving to the present firehouse in 1972.
The 31st Battalion, who resides here as well, was organized as Brooklyn District Chief 11 on January 20, 1896. It changed over to Battalion 31 in 1898. It occupied both addresses mentioned above before moving to Tillary Street in 1972.
The 11th Division found here, was organized on April 15, 1906 and has had numerous locations before coming here in July of 1990.
Finally, Satellite 6, which is not staffed on a daily basis, responds on second alarms or greater with Engine 207, which was organized in December of 1998. Never a dull moment here.