05/31/10 311 W, 1 I - + 8 - 9 Origin of Term "Service Ladder Truck"

Four years ago on the Firehouse forums, I posted a query asking the origin of "service ladder truck." No historical answer presented itself at the time. The question has continued to pop in and out of my head. (There are lots of holes in that thing!) Last night, I might have found the answer and while reading Matthew "Matt" Lee's A Pictorial History of Seagrave Fire Apparatus. The 2006 version, that is, updated from an earlier version. The hardcover volume is self-published and has almost 400 pages of gloriously reproduced apparatus pictures. It was released for the occasion of Seagrave's 125th anniversary.

Let's go back in time to the days of hand-drawn ladder trucks. Seagrave made them, and as a means to transport their ladders. (Frederic Seagrave made ladders at the beginning.) Lee notes on page 15 that "plain, unsprung ladder trucks" were "referred to as village ladder trucks." And "as the weight and size of the trucks grew," they became "city service ladder trucks." The trucks grew in size, we can infer, because they added features desirable for larger towns, taller buildings, and heavier usage. e.g., longer ladders, more equipment, wheel springs, rear tillers assemblies, etc.

Ergo, these ladder trucks were designed for service in a city. Or city service. And thus became known as city service ladder trucks1. And which became shortened over time to service ladder trucks, or even service trucks. What do you think? Sounds plausible to me.

Jeff Harkey photo of Raleigh Truck 12

1(City) service (ladder) trucks have been long-defined as ladder trucks that carry ground ladders but are not equipped with aerial apparatus. There's also a related ISO definition called a "service company," which is an apparatus equipped with a minimum complement of specific ground ladders.

Remember personal info?

/ Textile

Comment moderation is enabled on this site. This means that your comment will not be visible on this site until it has been approved by an editor.

To prevent spam we require you to answer this silly question

  (Register your username / Log in)

Hide email:

Small print: All html tags except <b> and <i> will be removed from your comment. You can make links by just typing the url or mail-address.