06/03/14 294 W, 2 I - + 3 - 1 Elizabeth City's Quick Step Hook and Ladder Company

This 1917 Brockway combination service truck that originally served Elizabeth City was photographed Sunday at the North Carolina Transportation Museum. The occasion was the Streamliners in Spencer special event. Stored in the "Back Shop" is the museum's collection of motor apparatus also includes Lexington's 1922 American LaFrance Type 75 pumper, Spencer's 1950s (?) Mack Model "B" pumper, and High Point's 1955 American LaFrance 700 Series aerial ladder.

The Brockway was operated by the Quick Step Hook and Ladder Company, an all-black fire company that served Elizabeth City from nearly ninety years! They were organized in 1891 and a good decade before the town had a municipal water supply. They specialized in rescue and ventilation, and were also capable of demolishing structures using the famous "hooks." 

They worked alongside the white firemen, who staffed the steam engines and hose company. They were all volunteers, and shared the same firehouse and alarm system. Their horse-drawn hook and ladder truck was replaced about 1921 with the Brockway. The "city service ladder truck" was equipped with a 35-gallon chemical tank and carried 250 feet of ladders and other equipment. It remained the town's front-line ladder truck until replaced with an aerial ladder in 1950.1

In 1977, the ladder company merged with Elizabeth City's other fire companies and the fire department became integrated. Read more about the Quick Steps in this annotated history of Early Black Firefighters of North Carolina. Read earlier blog post about ECFD history, which links to a couple earlier postings. See more photos on Mike's Flickr site.


1Perhaps 1955 instead of 1950? John Peckham's American LaFrance database lists an aerial ladder for Elizabeth City, shipped in November 1955.

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