Fabricated by Rumsey Pump & Fire Engine Company in 1889, this hand-drawn hook & ladder wagon was operated by the Hose & Ladder Co. No. 1 for the Massillon State Mental Hospital of Massillon, OH. The Massillon State Mental Hospital, like many hospitals and communities of the time, elected to use hand-drawn equipment, as they did not need the more capable and expensive steamer engines or horse-drawn apparatus.
This hook and ladder wagon carried a multitude of items for firefighter use, including ground and roof ladders constructed by the Combination Ladder Company, hooks, chains, rope, axes, pry bars, and leather fire buckets. The roof ladder had spring-loaded hooks that, once turned perpendicular, allowed the ladder to lay flat on the roof. This extra leverage was pertinent for firefighters moving around on the top of the building, especially on steeper surfaces or in wet conditions. The “hook” in “Hook and Ladder” was used for pulling down damaged walls or chimneys to create a firebreak, preventing the fire from spreading further. Axes were used to cut holes in the roof to create vertical ventilation, allowing gases and smoke to escape out of the building. This ventilation made it much easier for firefighters to enter through the ground floor of a building.