Spanning more than eight decades and a variety of names, the General Detroit Corporation designed and produced fire extinguishers and motorized fire apparatus.
The story of the General Detroit Corporation starts in 1903, when Harry W. Huthsing founded the National Belting & Hose Company in St. Louis, Missouri. Two years later, the firm was incorporated as the General Manufacturing Company and began manufacturing fire extinguishers in 1918.
Following the success of their decision to manufacture fire extinguishers, General began producing motor fire apparatus to be mounted on commercial truck chassis. The company’s name was changed yet again in 1926 to The General Fire Truck Corporation, although the General Manufacturing Company moniker was still used on their motorized apparatus for years to come.
In 1936, the entire corporation was transported to Detroit, Michigan, most likely for ease of access to materials and supplies. Resulting of this move, the organization’s name was changed to the General Detroit Corporation. Around this same time, a subsidiary was established in Los Angeles, known as the General Pacific Corporation. General Pacific was most known for their massive custom-built chassis pumpers that were unlike anything seen on the East coast.
Eventually, General’s fire apparatus trade was eclipsed by its fire extinguisher and hose business. The last General Detroit fire engine, a pumper on a 1957 Chevrolet chassis, was produced in 1956. The company then changed its name for the last time to the General Fire Extinguisher Corporation. Business slowly declined over the next decades, and General filed for bankruptcy in 2000, closing its doors forever a year later.