From 1965 through 1982, this land-based fire boat responded to over 2,200 calls and helped the people of New York City. Bay City is proud to honor FDNY and share the history of the world's most powerful fire truck, the Super Pumper, with all our visitors.
William Francis Gibbs, a naval architect, first came up with the idea for a land fireboat (a super pumper) around 1910. It took a tragic day for FDNY in the dry spring of 1963 to make the idea into reality. On April 20th more than 80 fire companies, with 1300 firefighters, responded to fires across Staten Island. The fires resulted in damages of almost $17,000,000 (in 2020 dollars). From the ashes of those fires, the need for a new capability was realized, and the Super Pumper was born to fill that need.
The central pumping unit of the Super Pumper can draw water from eight hydrants at once and flow over 10,000 gallons per minute at low pressures. At higher pressures of 350 psig, it could move 8,800 gpm. At one fire, it single handedly supplied water to the Super Tender, the three Satellite Tenders, two ladder trucks, and a portable hose manifold with multiple handlines.
The Super Pumper was part of a five-truck system that included the Super Pumper, the Super Tender, and three Satellite Tenders. The FDNY Super Tender was similar to the super pumper in that it used a Mack tractor and trailer. The trailer was used to haul almost a half mile of 4.5 inch hose to feed the 8 inch monitor mounted behind the cab. The monitor could 10,000 gpm in a stream that could reach over two football fields away. The tender is currently owned by a collector in California.
DeLaval Turbine designed a multi-stage centrifugal pump with a Naper-Deltic T18-37C diesel to power the pumps. The two 200 gallon diesel tanks were needed as the engine could pull over two gallons of fuel a minute. Of course, that what it takes to move more water than the weight of the Super Pumper every minute.
The FDNY used the Super Pumper from 1965 to 1982, responding to over 2,200 calls. It required a crew of 30 people to set up the Super Pumper, Super Tender and satellite tenders.
The Super Pumper was retired in April 1982, and later sold. Jimmie Dobson recognized the unique truck would have a home in his Firetruck museum, and brought it home to Bay City, where Super Pumper Pilgrims from all over the world come to visit to see this amazing machine!
More important than the Super Pumper are the stories of the people who operated it. Contact us to share your stories operating, maintaining, or getting help from the brave men and women of FDNY! We want to preserve these stories and share them along with this amazing machine!
These are digitized files to share more about the Super Pumper, offered by our volunteers for true fans.
We hope you enjoy sharing this information as much as we do.