Vintage: The Last Resort Fire Department in Seattle, US
Although its roots go back as far as World War II and the Seattle "Auxiliary" Fire Department, the Last Resort Fire Department officially began in 1969 when a handful of dedicated individuals banded together to form what is now the largest collection of antique motorised fire apparatus in the Pacific Northwest. The Last Resort Fire Department (LRFD) is a non-profit, charitable corporation, dedicated to the acquisition, restoration, preservation and display of classic antique motorised fire apparatus. The rigs can be seen in parades, car and truck shows, fire station dedications, fire prevention exhibits, static displays and other community events.
“Our primary mission has always been the preservation of Seattle Fire Department history. Our collection is comprised of several unique fire apparatus from the SFD. Included are Seattle's only Ahrens-Fox, which was fully restored in the mid-1960's, and three of Seattle's tillered aerials - their last wooden aerial - a 1929 Mack, their first metal aerial - a 1937 Seagrave, and their last "conventional-cab" tillered aerial - a 1969 Kenworth/Maxim. We also have the SFD's last city-service ladder truck - a 1950 Kenworth, and what we believe to be the oldest surviving motorised fire apparatus from the SFD - a 1913 Seagrave City Service Ladder. The SFD's only Bulldog Mack is included in our collection, although it has yet to be restored.”
“We work closely with the Seattle Fire Department, providing apparatus for fire prevention activities, fire station dedications and open houses, as well as recruit graduation ceremonies. In addition, upon request, we transport their horse-drawn and motorised steamers to parades and displays. We strive to promote a professional image in keeping with fire service tradition.”
“Our maintenance facility was built in 1973 and currently houses 12 of our rigs, including pumpers, city service ladder trucks and tillered aerials. Because we've outgrown our facility, there are several rigs in the collection that are stored in various locations in the Seattle area. The collection consists primarily of retired Seattle Fire Department apparatus and equipment. We also maintain hundreds of historic photographs, alarm equipment, station furnishings, nozzles, extinguishers, helmets and several items unique to the SFD. A portion of our collection of apparatus and artefacts are on display at our museum at Seattle Fire Department Headquarters in Pioneer Square. The museum allows the public and firefighters and their families the opportunity to experience the history of the fire service in general, the Seattle Fire Department in particular.”
“It's quite a sight watching our active fleet of fifteen antique and vintage fire engines and ladder trucks, dating from 1913 to 1969, as they proceed down the street, all in a row, with our uniformed members on board. Each year, thousands of people of all ages thrill to the sight and sound of these magnificent machines.”
That small group who started the LRFD so many years ago had a vision - that those wonderful old relics that helped save so many lives and property for so many years, should not all end up being lost or scrapped. They were aware and we know too, that too many significant bits of our past have been reduced to a mere memory or an old photograph. We at the LRFD are doing everything possible to keep this nostalgic representation of our area's fire service heritage alive for our future generations to learn from and enjoy.
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