Fire Department Buys Motorized Engine and Ladder Trucks

The fire department purchased an engine First motorized fire apparatusand a ladder truck six months after the deaths of two of the fire departments horse's. The department initially made due with the one remaining fire horse and large delivery horse from the Dempsey Grocery Store. This purchase was also spurred by the city’s largest fire on March 15, 1916, which included the Buckner-Ragsdale Company, Houck Building, Riverview Hotel, Terminal Hotel, Cape Brewery, Zoelsman Grocery, H.E. Alexander and several other nearby buildings.

The engine and ladder truck were purchased from Robinson Company of St. Louis. The engine arrived at the Frisco yards in Cape on Dec. 7, 1916. The engine was nicknamed Jumbo due to its large size. The ladder arrived on Dec. 14, 1916 and was of the service type with no aerial device. The factory also sent an expert to train the department on the use of the truck. He was to remain for several weeks of training. Chief Barney Kraft recommended increasing personnel from the current level of four to five or six in order to properly staff the new equipment.

The new fire apparatus had its first real test on New Year’s morning at the barn of Tom Taylor in Lorimier Place. Chief Kraft said the splendid work of the engine helped save nearby buildings. He was impressed with the speed of the trucks response to the fire 10 blocks away and the high water pressure of the fire pump.

Information provided courtesy of the Southeast Missourian


  • Contact Info
  • 1 South Sprigg Street Cape Girardeau, MO 63703
  • Telephone 573.339.6330
  • Email capefire@cityofcape.org