On the eve of the stock market crash, American LaFrance in October 1929 announced its most important new product line since the breakthrough Type 5 of 1910. The all-new Master Series pumpers and aerials were introduced with appropriate fanfare at the 57th Annual Convention 1929 of the International Association of Fire Chiefs held in Birmingham, Alabama.
The new 200 Series’ handsome styling featured a broad-shouldered cast aluminum radiator, wide, tapered hood and full-crowned fenders. The new Master Series apparatus projected a powerful, integrated look with commanding “road presence” – the industry’s first fire apparatus in which pleasing appearance was an important design prerequisite.
The new 200 Series pumpers, ladder trucks, hose and squad cars also incorporated such advances as left-hand steering, four-wheel brakes, hollow, steel spoked wheels, balloon tires and a fully-automatic closed cooling system. The new Master Series apparatus was powered by an improved and uprated 130-horsepower version of the company’s proven six-cylinder engine.
The 1929 Master Series family included 750 and 1000 gpm pumpers, city service ladder trucks and quadruple combinations, big tractor-drawn aerial ladder trucks and water towers and special-purpose apparatus such as combination hose cars and rescue squad trucks. In an epic case of unfortunate timing, the milestone Master Series went into production at Elmira just as the stock market crashed and the U.S. economy began its slide into a devastating depression.