Firetruck History
1966 Seagrave Tractor Drawn Aerial
This impressive ladder truck originally served Fairfax County (Washington, D.C.) before it was rebuilt for Strasburg, VA. It finally came out of service in 2001.

It requires an additional driver, or tillerman, to steer the back. This design made old, narrow, street navigable by such a long truck. The hydraulic steel ladder on top required the length of the chassis. (Today, aluminum is used and allows for the construction of shorter, straight frame, trucks.)

The connection between the tractor and the trailer is quite different than typical transport arrangements. This is because the leverage of the elevated ladder is transferred to the frame and suspension of the tractor. “Suspension brakes”, are employed to lock out the truck springs while the ladder is in use.

Ladder trucks are expected to arrive at the fire scene and be positioned first. Pumper trucks have more versatility and work around the ariels.


The “sanders” mounted ahead of the tractor’s drive wheels. These were deployed when slippery conditions required more traction.

Originally, this truck also had a pump; a preposterous idea when you consider that the use of the ariel ladder has no relationship to the proximity of a water hydrant!

Originally, this truck was built with an “open”, or topless cab. If you look at the top of the cab, you can detect the roof that was fashioned later. Fire trucks were very slow to adopt roofs. The rational for this is the source of much mythology and most likely the fire service’s leery approach to new ideas!