HOW FORT WORTH CAME TO HAVE WHITE FIRE TRUCKS
By Jim Noah
Retired Battalion Chief
Fort Worth Fire Department

 

Fort Worth became one of the very first departments in the United States if not the entire world to paint their apparatus white.  Several stories have been advanced to the reason. I happened to ask an old fire chief in 1960 how it came about.  He started to explain to me how it came about, but abruptly stated that he would write it down for me and return in a few days with the document. Good to his word, in a couple of days he returned with a one page typewritten story entitled " How we came to have White Fire Trucks (The Truth)." By C.M. (Frog) Ferguson. Unfortunately I have let the original document get away from me. Following is the story as I can best remember it.

 About 1903 or 1904 the department was preparing to go to Dallas for the annual "Pumper Races", conducted each year at the Texas State Fair. An elimination contest was conducted on Throckmorton Street, just south of Central. Each hose wagon would drop a nozzle and lay a 2 1/2-inch line 150 feet to the hydrant at Tenth and Throckmorton. The company that got water in the fastest time would represent Fort Worth at the Fair.

 Hose Company No. 5 under Captain Star Ferguson (later Fire Chief Sandifer Ferguson) won the honor of representing Fort Worth at the Fair.

 As the time approached to prepare for the trip to Dallas, the company was informed that they would no be allowed to take their usual wagon for the race. When they saw the reserve wagon that was to be used in the contest they were aghast at the deplorable condition it was in. Not wanting to embarrass Fort Worth with such a sorry looking vehicle, they implored the chief to have it repainted.

 A bid of $45.00 from the E.E. Lennox Reliable Carriage works was presented to the council for approval. The answer from the council was a resounding NO!

 Determined to not embarrass the City, the members of the department passed the hat and collected the necessary funds to refinish the wagon.

 When Mr. Lennox asked what color? They replied they didn't care, as long as it was the prettiest wagon at the fair. A few days later they returned to get the wagon and were amazed. It was stunning, they described it as a beautiful Circus Wagon, painted WHITE , trimmed and lettered in gold.

 According to Chief Ferguson, the boys took their beautiful wagon to the fair. Won 1st prize, as the fastest in Texas along with the $250.00 cash award that went with the title.

 Triumphantly returning to town, every time the white truck was placed in regular service, it attracted favorable attention from the citizens. Being pleased with the results, Fire Chief Maddox, declared that all new and refurbished fire trucks would be painted and finished in the same colors.  

That color combination has be our mainstay until about 1980 or 1981 when a blue stripe was added. 

Photo From the Dalton Hoffman, Jr. Collection

 

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