from Parsons, Kansas, the Snorkel
was purchased in 1999. It was in great shape, just requiring a little cleanup and a
new gasket set for
the intake manifold. We rebuilt the the main lift cylinders in 2009.
The truck is built on
an International chassis, with an International 589 V-8 and manual
transmission. It has a
75' Snorkel, a 1000 gpm
Waterous pump, and no water tank. The cab was built by Cincinnatti and
the bodywork is by Pierce.
The Snorkel was a very popular item in the 60's and 70's. Most major cities had at least one. Today, they
have pretty much been replaced by tower ladders.
The Snorkel was invented by the Chicago Fire Department in the late 1950's. The first Snorkel is preserved in the North Charleston, South Carolina fire museum as part of the American LaFrance collection.
An obvious advantage was the ability to reach over the top of buildings or stop at windows and evacuate people or fight
a fire. They made excellent water towers.
The taller Snorkels,
85' and higher, had very long overhangs and were tough to get in and out
of tight spaces.
They also had a limited
reach from the street of no more than the length of the upper boom, or
35' to 40'. This limited
their usefulness to big
cities where the buildings were near the street.
Most have been purchased by tree trimming companies or painting contractors. We are fortunate to have an unmolested
example of this very important part of fire apparatus history.
Snorkel type apparatus
were made by several companies. Snorkel made theirs in St. Joseph,
Missouri on a variety
of custom and commercial
chassis. American LaFrance made their version called the "Aero Chief".
Hy Ranger made
one that was easily
distinguished by it's lattice style construction. Many of those were
built on Ward LaFrance chassis.
October 19, 2009 Estes Park experienced one of the largest fires in
recent history in the center of the downtown business
district. The blaze
destroyed a 24,000 square foot shopping mall building that dated to the
Museum director Doug
Klink, an Estes Park volunteer firefighter, was operating a pumper at
the fire when the Chief called
for ladder trucks from
Loveland and Boulder, about 40 minutes away. Estes Park's 75' LTI
ladder truck, Ladder 6, was
already operating at the
fire, protecting the historic Mall Theater building. It was clear more
aerial streams were
Doug radioed the Chief
and asked if the Snorkel could help and the Chief replied that it would be welcome so Doug brought
it to the scene, where it
operated at 1000 gpm for about 5 hours, helping to slow the spread of
the blaze until the other
ladder trucks could arrive.
The Snorkel had
operated at a number of public safety events and the Chief was familiar
with the unit and the maintenance
standards to which all of
the Reliance trucks are kept.
All the exposures were saved, and the town is very grateful to not have lost the entire block to the fire.
We are grateful to the Chief and the Town
of Estes Park for
the opportunity to lend a
hand and create even more history for this capable truck.