Photographs and Archival Materials
The Aurora Regional Fire Museum is proud to be the official historians and archivists for the Aurora Fire Department. Our collection includes thousands of photographs, video footage, newspaper clippings, annual reports, and official fire company run-books.
Unfortunately we do not have the staffing to accommodate research requests by phone or e-mail, but all of this raw information is available to historians, researchers, students, and the interested public by appointment.
Fire Apparatus in our Collection
What would a fire museum be without fire trucks! The Aurora Regional Fire Museum has seven pieces of fire apparatus in our collection (and three more on loan) dating from an 1850s hand pumper to a 1960s aerial ladder truck.
1850s Button -- Hand Pumper
This hand pumper was made by Button and Company of Waterford, New York sometime in the 1850s. It was purchased by the Aurora Regional Fire Museum in the fall of 2000 from Jim Carew, a local fire apparatus collector. It is similar in size and style to Aurora's first fire engine made by Wright & Bros. of Rochester New York in 1856.
When the Old Central Fire Station -- home to the Aurora Regional Fire Museum -- closed for renovations in 2001, volunteers restored this engine back to its original appearance and operating condition.
As few clues remain to track down this engine's original name or owner, it has been dubbed the "Young America No. 2" in honor of Aurora's first "Young America Fire Company"
For more information about our hand pumped fire engines in general, and our engine in particular, go to the Young America section of this website...
1907 Ahrens -- Steam Fire Engine
The Ahrens Manufacturing Company is a direct decedent of the first successful steam fire engine manufacturer in America. The Ahrens company (in all its incarnations) produced nearly one-thousand steam fire engines between 1852 and 1916. This second-sized, Ahrens "Continental" model, was one of six purchased by the Chicago Fire Department in 1907. It served at Engines 39 and 56 before being retired.
This engine is on loan from the Chicago Fire Department
1916 Jeffery/Pirsch -- Chemical and Hose Wagon
Originally delivered to Marengo Illinois, this engine is typical of those utilized by smaller communities in the early 1900s.
The chassis was manufactured by the Jeffrey Motor Company and then delivered to Kenosha Wisconsin where the hose body was installed by the Pirsch Fire Apparatus Company.
This engine was merely a hose wagon. Having no chemical tanks or pump, the firefighters would use it to transport their hose to the fire scene where it would be attached directly to a fire hydrant.
After retiring from duty in Marengo, the truck was sold several times before ending up in the possession of the Sandwich Fire Department. Sandwich firefighters restored the truck for use in local parades, and donated it to the Aurora Regional Fire Museum in 1990.
1918 American LaFrance -- Engine
Delivered in 1918, this American LaFrance pumper served the small community of LaSalle, Illinois for over forty years. Early American LaFrance engines such as this one were often called the Ford Model "Ts" of the fire service. They were common, relatively affordable, and very reliable. Retired from active service in 1958, this engine was saved and restored by a private collector.
Aurora purchased a nearly identical 1918 "type 12" American LaFrance. Aurora's engine bore the serial number 2214, while LaSalle's engine was 2204. They probably sat next to each other at the factory.
This engine is on loan in memory of James Thornton
1921 Stutz/Pirsch -- Engine
"The best on the market, far superior to any the city has purchased." With those reassuring words of praise, the Aurora City Council approved the bid of $12,500 for the purchase of a Stutz fire engine.
Like most fire engines of the day, the Stutz was considered a triple combination - containing a pump, hose, and chemical tanks. It was assigned to Company Number 3.
In 1943, Peter Pirsch Fire Apparatus Company completely reconditioned the Stutz, adding a new Waukesha engine, replacing the solid rubber tires, and both widening and strengthening the frame.
Upon retirement from the Aurora Fire Department, the Stutz was given to the Aurora Historical Society, who have in turn placed it on loan here.
1934 Pirsch -- City Service Ladder Truck
Shortly after the tragic Woolworth fire where three firefighters lost their lives, the Aurora Fire Department purchased a Pirsch Quadruple Combination Service Truck. Technically referred to as a "Quad" because of the truck's pump, water tank, hose body, and ladder carrying ability. The new vehicle soon became affectionately called "The Hayrack" because of it's ungainly appearance. The combination of these four functions, and some additional rescue and lighting equipment, made this truck extremely versatile.
The Pirsch Quad faithfully responded to all general alarms within the City of Aurora until it's retirement thirty years later in 1964. It's versatility, dependable service, and ease of operation made it a favorite among the members of the Aurora Fire Department. Unfortunately retirement was hard on the Hayrack, and it ultimately ended up in a junk yard, buried up to it's axles in mud. In 1997, the Aurora Regional Fire Museum purchased the truck and rescued it. It now longingly awaits the time and funding needed to restore it to it's former splendor.
1942 America LaFrance -- Engine
Placed in service as Aurora's Engine 1, and operating out of the Old Central Fire Station, this 500 series American LaFrance features a pump mounted in front of the cab and behind the motor. The pump's control panel is located on the passenger-side or the engine, a "safety feature" briefly tried and abandoned by American LaFrance in the 1940s
1946 American LaFrance -- Aerial Ladder Truck
Delivered in 1946, this American La France "JOX" series aerial ladder truck sported a new-post war cab-over design that made the truck safer and more maneuverable.
1948 America LaFrance -- Engine
Delivered in 1948, this American LaFrance “700 series” pumper served as Engine No. 3 in community of Batavia, Illinois for over forty years.
Typical of most fire apparatus made after World War II , the 700 series sported a new design that placed the cab in front of the motor. This eliminated the long nose from the front of the engine and provided for better visibility and maneuverability. The new cab also allowed five firefighters to ride inside sitting down. This was much safer than in previous models where the firefighters would ride to the fire while standing on the back running board and hanging on for dear life.
The new 700 series cab was a huge success for the American LaFrance Fire Engine Company. Over three thousand 700 series pumpers, ladder trucks, rescue squads, and even airport crash vehicles were manufactured between 1947 and 1956. The engine’s popularity, and its distinctive front end, make it the quintessential American fire engine.
This engine is on loan from the City of Batavia Fire Department.
1965 American LaFrance -- Aerial Ladder Truck
Delivered in June of 1964, at a cost of $43,800, the truck saw most of its service as Truck 2, operating out of Aurora's Central Fire Station. The large gold shield and number "2" painted on its doors quickly gave rise to the nickname "The Deuce." When a new Emergency One aerial was purchased in the 1980s the old American La France truck was placed in reserve. A few years later it was given to the Sugar Grove Fire protection District, where it was placed in active front-line service. Regrettably, the truck's aerial developed small stress-cracks and failed to gain recertification.
In the fall of 2000 the Sugar Grove Fire Protection District donated the aerial truck to the Aurora Regional Fire Museum.