Fire Bell from 1st Talladega Firetruck
Billy Miller generously loaned this fire bell to the Hall of Heroes. It has been a treasured part of the Miller family for decades. Mr. Miller, a member of the Talladega Fire Department for four years, was for 16 years connected with the City Police Department, part of which time he was assistant police chief. The City presented him with the bell from Talladega's first fire truck, and the bell hung on a pole on his property.
Original fire engines were large water tanks on horse drawn wagons which were operated by hand to pump water out of a long, malleable spigot. Several men would use brute strength to create a strong stream of water by pumping long levers on either side of the tank to mechanically expel the water.
For about a decade (from the outbreak of WWI in 1914 until the middle of the 1920s), fire trucks were powered by gasoline engines, although the water was pumped by the same steam engines as in the 1840s.
This system was far more efficient – and, importantly, faster – than was the case in the steam-powered horse-drawn era. Moreover, it had the advantage of being more reliable. Gasoline-powered water pumps were more able to deliver a powerful stream of water than was the case with a steam engine.
In addition, since horses were no longer required, it was possible to position fire trucks throughout a city more effectively, rather than in a few large stables. As vehicle technology improved, so did that of fire trucks.