Mid to Late 1900s

Innovation of the Era: The Wooden Fire Pumper

Although it looks very primitive to us today, when pumped by several men, this wooden pumper, called a Newsham pumper (circa 1725) produced a steady stream of water that could be pointed at a fire by positioning the apparatus. This was a huge step forward in firefighting technology for the time. The Newsham pumper could hold 170 gallons of water. The water had to be dumped into the pumper's trough from buckets. True water suction was not available in New York's pumpers until 1819. This pumper did not have a "traveler" or fifth wheel to assist it with turns, so the firemen had to manually lift the back end of the apparatus to make turns, as well as pull the pumper to the fire scene. Since the trough section of the pumper was lined with lead, which is very heavy, this was a difficult task for the firemen. Thomas Lote of New York is credited with having built the first fire engine made in America in 1743, which was also a wooden pumper.
This wooden pumper was designed and built by Richard Newsham in England. It was purchased by the Common Council of New York and arrived in New York City in 1731. The Newsham pumper is the oldest authenticated fire apparatus used in New York State.