IFD Water Tower No. 13

IFD Water Tower No. 13

1927 American LaFrance IFD Water Tower No. 13

Founded in 1904, American LaFrance was an American vehicle manufacturer that focused primarily on the production of fire engines, fire aerials, and emergency apparatus. As one of the oldest fire apparatus manufacturers, it comes as no surprise that American LaFrance created some of the most cutting-edge apparatus of their time, including the 1927 IFD Water Tower No. 13.

The IFD Water Tower No. 13 was produced and shipped from American LaFrance’s headquarters in Elmira, New York to Indianapolis Fire Department No. 13 in Indianapolis, Indiana. There were three complete pieces included, including the tractor, the trailer, and the tiller’s seat. At full height, the tower stood at 65 feet, the ladders constructed from 3 pieces. The tower was originally powered by a chemical tank filled with a sodium bicarbonate solution. Much like a soda/acid extinguisher, the chemical tank held a bottle of acid that, once combined with the sodium bicarbonate solution, would create carbon dioxide gas. The pressure from this chemical reaction would propel the tower to its full height. Eventually, this chemical tank was replaced by a water tank, as spring and water-raised towers were easier and safer to use.

Around 1945, the IFD Water Tower was put into reserve, resulting in the original tiller's seat and wheel being removed and eventually thrown away. The vehicle stayed in reserve until the 1960s, when it was officially retired in 1969, replaced by a brand-new Snorkel fire engine. After its 40 years of service, the IFD Water Tower was moved to the Indianapolis Fire Department’s repair shop, where it stayed under the possession of IFD historian, Rodger J. Birchfield. In 2020, the IFD Water Tower found its home in the Koorsen Fire Museum.

Rodger J. Birchfield on the IFD Water Tower No. 13

Please click here to learn more about Rodger J. Birchfield and his dedication to the Indianapolis Fire Department.