Peter Pirsch & Sons Co. 1926-present - Kenosha, Wisconsin


Peter Pirsch was the son of a pioneer Wisconsin wagon builder who patented a compound trussed extension ladder in 1899 and went on to make hand- and horse­drawn ladder trucks. His first motorized ladder truck was on a Rambler chassis, and this was followed by others based on Couple Gear, White, Duplex, Nash and Dodge. In 1926 came the first complete Peter Pirsch fire engines; these were 150 to 750gpm pumpers, chemical and hose trucks powered by 6-cylinder Waukesha engines. In 1928 came a pumper with fully-enclosed cab, the first of its kind from a major US manufacturer, and in 1931 a one man operation hydro-mechanical aerial ladder hoist used on an 85ft articulated ladder truck. By this time Pirsch were building mostly on their own chassis, although others occasionally used were Sterling (1933), International (1936) and Diamond T (1937). Cabs were bought from General Motors for many years. In 1938 came the first 100ft aluminum alloy closed lattice aerial ladder which became a Peter Pirsch specialty and is still used today.

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s a wide range of fire engines, including articulated ladder trucks were made, with power coming mostly from Hercules or Waukesha engines. All these had their engines under hoods, and the first cab forward model came in 1961 with a flat-fronted cab which is still used today. Conventionals and cab­-forwards were made through the 1960s with little change, and Pirsch were also offering their specialties on other chassis such as Ford and Mack CF. Very few conven­tionals were made after 1970, and current production centers on rigid and articulated cab-forward units, mostly with diesel engines. Pirsch still builds on commercial chassis in addition to their custom fire apparatus.


    For more information please read:

Roger E. Bjorge & Ronald Doerring - Pirsch Fire Apparatus 1890-1991 Photo Archive

Walter M.P. McCall & George H. Dammann - American Fire Engines Since 1900

Fred W. Crismon - Fire Engines

Bob Dubbert - Encyclopedia of Canadian Fire Apparatus

Donal M. Baird - A Canadian History of Fire Engines

Phil DaCosta - One Hundred Years of America's Fire Fighting Apparatus

Bill Hass - History of the American Water Towers

Hans Halberstadt - The American Fire Engine

Hans Halberstadt - Fire Engines

T.A. Jacobs - A History of Fire Engines

Matthew Lee - A Pictorial History of the Fire Engine

M.W. Goodman MD - Inventing the American Fire Engine: An Illustrated History of Fire Engine Patents

Consumer's Guide - The Complete Book of Fire Engines: A colorful Review of Today's Fire Apparatus

Sheila Buff - Fire Engines in North America

Sheila Buff - Fire Engines: Motorized Apparatus Since 1900

Neil Wallington - World Encyclopedia of Fire Engines: an illustrated guide to fire trucks around the world

Keith Ryan & Neil Wallington - The Illustrated History of Fire Engines

Paul Barrett - Heavy Rescue Trucks: 1931 - 2000 Photo Gallery

Larry Shapiro - Aerial Fire Trucks

Larry Shapiro - Fighting Fire Trucks

Larry Shapiro - Hooks and Ladders

Larry Shapiro - Pumpers: Workhorse Fire Engines

Donald F. Wood - American Volunteer Fire Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Big City Fire Truck 1900-1950

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorensen - Big City Fire Trucks: 1951-1996

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorenson - Motorized Fire Apparatus of the West, 1900-1960

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorensen - New York City Fire Trucks

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorenson - Volunteer & Rural Fire Apparatus Photo Gallery

Kenneth Little - Chicago Fire Department engines: Sixty years of motorized pumpers, 1912-1972

Kenneth Little - Chicago Fire Department hook & ladder tractors, 1914-1971

Ron Jeffers - The apparatus of the Jersey City Fire Department: Yesterday and today

John Rieth - Jersey Shore Fire Apparatus: Classic Thru the 60's

Philip R. Lincoln - Massachusetts fire apparatus: A pictorial Collection

Charles Madderom - Los Angeles City Fire Apparatus: 1953 Through 1999 Photo Archive

George Klass - Fire apparatus: A pictorial history of the Los Angeles Fire Department

John A. Calderone - Wheels of the bravest: A history of FDNY fire apparatus, 1865-1992

Peter Aloisi - Apparatus and fires across America: Featuring former FDNY apparatus

Scott Schimpf - Fire Apparatus of Philadelphia

Harrold Shell - Past and present: A history of Phoenix fire trucks

Leo E. Duliba - Industrial & Private Fire Apparatus: 1925 Through 2001 Photo Archive

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

George W. Green - Special-Use Vehicles: An Illustrated History of Unconventional Cars and Trucks

William T. King - History of the American Steam Fire-Engine

Ed Hass - The Dean of Steam Fire Engine Builders

John M. Peckham - Fighting fire with fire: A pictorial volume of steam fire-fighting apparatus


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