Early fire pumpers were a great improvement over the bucket brigade system of fighting fires. Now instead of throwing water onto a fire from small buckets, hand pumper engines were utilized, pulled to the scene by teams of firefighters. The men would line up along the sides of the pumper and raise and lower the long “brakes” you see running parallel along this engine. The motion would operate the pump, which in turn fed water through a hose. The longest stream of water thrown by this engine was recorded in 1908 as being 219 feet. In subsequent years, steam boilers replaced man power to work pumps, and horses were recruited to pull the now-heavier engines.
In 1834 William Platt and Lysander Button established their engine manufactory at Waterford, Saratoga County, New York on the banks of the Erie Canal. Mr. Platt withdrew from the Company in 1841 and it then became L. Button & Son (for Lysander’s son Theodore). Their Company later became part of the American Fire Engine Company in 1891.
This model engine was marked as Button’s Hand Fire Engine No. 1. It weighs approximately 3500 pounds, and when the “brakes” are up, measures 81″ tall. It was originally built for Circleville, Ohio, then went to Coxsackie, NY and was finally purchased by the Springfield Veteran Firemen’s Association in 1898.