The late 1800s introduced new developments in fire hose technology, with many advancements in new material. Instead of heavy riveted leather, hoses were made of woven cotton with an inner rubber liner, making the hose much more manageable to transport.
Bucket brigades, a chain of buckets passed along a line to a fire, were soon replaced by these lighter hoses, supplying fire apparatus with a steadier source of water. The fire hose was transported on a hose carriage, a wheeled reel that could carry over 100 feet of hose. From the late 1830s to the early 1900s, hose carriages accompanied hand pumpers and steam engines to provide firefighters water from wells or cisterns. Many hose carriages were equipped with two large bells to alert the townspeople of the incoming apparatus. By the late 1900s, hose carriages were phased out of use as larger towns and cities began to carry hoses in an open-top hose wagon rather than on a reel. Fire departments often kept their retired hose carriages for use in parades.
This hose carriage, its official maker and origin unknown, was used from 1874 to 1898 by the Hibernia Fire Company No. 6 of Allentown, Pennsylvania. The four-wheeled hose carriage was replaced with a more modern Holloway Combination Chemical Engine and Hose Wagon in 1898. It joined the collection at Koorsen Fire Museum in 2017.