When the equipment was first ordered for the South Manchester Fire Department in 1897, it consisted of a
hand-drawn hose cart which carried 500 feet of 2½" hose along with some wrenches and tools. In the event of a
fire, the hose was rolled out, coupled directly to the hydrant and tipped with a nozzle. It obviously took
some time to get water on the fire.
Following South Manchester's first fire-related fatality in June, 1907, Company #1 purchased a Combination Chemical and Hose Wagon. The wagon carried two 30 gallon chemical tanks which operated like a soda and acid fire extinguisher. The idea was to get water on the fire quicker. One tank could be refilled and charged while the other was in operation. The real time saver on the hose wagon was the addition of 200 feet of three-quarter inch diameter rubber hose, later called a booster line. This line could be put into operation quickly without worrying about flaking out extra hose. It also could be easily handled by one fire fighter.
The booster hose was very popular with the South Manchester fire fighters. Subsequent apparatus carried the rubber booster hose, usually kept in a basket mounted over the hose bed. In the 1920's, apparatus also began carrying 1½" fabric hose, usually 200 feet. This increased the efficiency of firefighting. Even the ladder trucks purchased during this era carried booster hose and 1½" hose with either chemical tanks or a small pump.
In the 1940's and 1950's, apparatus began carrying the rubber hose on a preconnected reel, allowing the line to be put into operation even faster. This worked very efficiently for two-man engine companies. The early reels were mounted foreword of the rear step and were rewound using a hand crank. Later reels were mounted in front of the hose bed on the top of the apparatus and rewound with an electric motor. The diameter was also increased to 1" allowing greater water flow.
The 1½" hose was also evolving. Initially it had to be pulled off and connected to the pump using a reducer on a 2½" outlet. The 1950's saw the addition of 1½" hose preconnected in the hose bed. It needed only to be pulled out and charged for fighting fires. The diameter of this hose was also increased. Currently fire fighters are using 1¾" preconnects, allowing for more efficient fire fighting. Alas, with more variety of combustibles involved in fires and the increased manpower, our booster lines and 1½" hose have been phased out.