Rear Steer Apparatus
by Doug Welch,
Town of Manchester Fire Department Historian and Retired Firefighter

In 1999, then Chief Tom Weber purchased two Pierce Dash 2000 105 ft. Quints for the department. One of them found its way to Company No. 1 where it is stationed to this day. Amazingly, this up-to-date piece of apparatus is not the first piece that the company has had with "rear steer".

Eighty-seven years earlier, in May 1912, Company No. 1 voted to replace their horse-drawn apparatus with an automobile chemical and hose wagon and an automobile ladder truck. The truck had a 180 inch wheelbase and was forty-six feet long. It was so large that the freight car it was shipped to Manchester on was too wide for some bridges, necessitating the extra time in shipping. The truck was similar to the auto chemical and hose wagon in that it was maroon in color with the same six-cylinder engine set to operate at 35 miles per hour.

Although the ladder truck had a one-piece chassis, the front of the truck was operated by the driver while the rear of the truck was steered by a second man sitting in his position above the ladders. Thus, the truck was not what is commonly called a tiller, but rather SMFD's first "rear-steer" truck!

January, 2009