Preserved British steam-powered fire engine – an example of a mobile steam engine. This is a horse-drawn vehicle: the steam engine drives the water pump

Steam pumper fire engines were used roughly from 1840 to 1920 to pump water on city fires. Large urban fire departments would invest in fire brigades, or engine companies, to assist in fire fighting. Concomitant with the steam engine would be a house, horses and dalmatian dogs (used to guide and calm the horses). The growing cities in the US west would invest in steam pumpers usually after a devastating fire that would destroy large parts of the wooden frontier town.

The first steam pumper was built by Braithwaite and Ericcson in England in 1829. In the following decades, European cities invested in steam powered fire equipment.

The vertical fast firing boilers, while heavy, was an effective fire fighting equipment. For a few years, c. 1910-20, the horses were retired and the steam pumper was hauled by a gas tractor.

Small two wheel units for hand movement were built in England to help fight incendiary fires during the Luftwaffe Blitz.

A few builders were American: Waterous, Amoskeag; Merryweather and Shand Mason were London-based fire engine manufacturers.

See also

1871 Amoskeag steam powered fire engine