by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

Fire protection under the three-pointed star: The history of Mercedes-Benz fire-fighting vehicles and their predecessors - PART V


Stuttgart, Germany, Jan 01, 2007

The Mercedes-Benz semi-forward control and cab-over-engine fire-fighting vehicles from 1959 - 1989

1959: a new series of short-nose trucks

Since the advantages of cab-over-engine vehicles were not yet generally known and legislation at the same time developed its own ideas in terms of dimensions and engine output ratings, Daimler-Benz decided on a compromise in 1959: the best features of both, conventional and cab-over-engine designs, were to be combined in a new vehicle series with more powerful engines.
The rounded short-nose trucks were used by fire brigades for a variety of purposes. The LF 322 chassis for a gross weight of ten tons and with engines developing 110, later 126 hp proved to be the most versatile. With superstructures from Metz and Bachert, the vehicles served as pump water tenders with and without tanks, dry-agent tenders and airport fire-fighting vehicles (LF 16, TLF 16 and TroLF 16), as well as as emergency tenders, hose carriers and rescue vehicles. One L 322 chassis formed the backbone of the first hydraulically operated DL 30 h turntable ladder from Metz, presented at the fire brigades’ convention in Cologne in 1958.

In the short-nose trucks, the engines protruded into the all-steel cabs only as far so as to permit through-cab access. On the heavy-duty truck series L 334, 337 and 338, the engine hoods were slightly longer to accommodate the 172 hp diesel engines with 10.8 liter displacement. In 1963, Daimler-Benz replaced the pre-chamber diesel by the direct-injection diesel engine and raised engine output at the same time.
From then on, new designations were used indicating the gross weight and engine output of a vehicle: the L 1113, which replaced the L 322, was, for instance an eleven-tonner with an engine output of roughly 130 hp. The popular L 911 was designed for a gross weight of nine tons and powered by a 110 hp engine.

New cab-over-engine vehicles in the sixties

The short-nose trucks, their rounded shapes reflecting the style of the fifties, continued to be equipped with fire-fighting superstructures until the end of the seventies or even beyond. Parallel to that, Daimler-Benz started producing a new series of angular cab-over-engine series in 1963. This is why fire-fighting vehicles, which appeared to be from different eras, peacefully coexisted in the sixties and seventies.

In the new cab-over-engine vehicles, the engine vanished under the cab floor. Fire brigades benefited from the spacious cabs and large windshields. The powerful V8 and V10 engines from the heavy-duty series were used only in exceptional cases, however. Tilt cabs were not introduced until the seventies when the New Generation of Mercedes-Benz trucks was launched.

Popular models were, for instance, the LP 608 with a gross weight of 6.5 tons, different wheelbase lengths and an 85 hp four-cylinder engine. It served as the backbone for LF 8 fire-fighting crew vehicles, DL 18 turntable ladders, mobile cranes and much more. Pump water tenders were preferably set up on larger chassis, for instance the LP 813 or LP 911. Heavy-duty truck chassis like the LP 1319, with 192 hp V6 engine and a gross weight of 14 tons, were used for 30-meter turntable ladders and emergency tenders – unless the fire brigades preferred short-nose vehicles.

In 1984, Daimler-Benz launched the Light Class, its models 709 – 1320 covering the gross weight range from 6.5 to 13 tons. The OM 364 and OM 366 six-cylinder engines now developed between 90 and 204 hp. Despite far-reaching standardization of fire-fighting vehicles, chassis model ranges and the superstructures of Bachert, Metz, Schlingmann or Ziegler provided fire brigades with an immensely broad choice of vehicles with different dimensions and weight ratings, output ratings and fire-fighting equipment.

One example: the Hamburg fire brigade

The Hamburg fire brigade had decided in favor of Mercedes-Benz chassis and all-steel superstructures from Bachert in 1958 and retained this fleet for a long time to come. It equipped its 19 fire stations with standardized combinations consisting of an LF 16 fire-fighting crew vehicle, a TLF 16 pump water tender and a DL 30 turntable ladder. These vehicles were initially set up on the LP 710 and LP 911 chassis.
When Daimler-Benz discontinued production of the Pullman chassis in 1968, the Hamburg fire brigade changed over to LAF 1113 B short-nose chassis with 168 hp engines for the next ten years. Between 1974 and 1979, the Hamburg fire brigade procured 49 LF 16 fire-fighting crew vehicles and 25 pump water tenders on short-nose chassis.

These were replaced almost exclusively by cab-over-engine chassis MB 1017, 1019, 1222 and 1224 AF on which the Hamburg fire brigade had its vehicles set up. As many as 68 fire-fighting crew vehicles and 19 pump water tenders had entered into service by 1987 when Messrs. Bachert had to file a petition in bankruptcy. From then on, bodies for pump water tenders with tanks were supplied by Schlingmann and without tanks by Ziegler. Where turntable ladders were concerned, the Hamburg fire brigade opted for Metz without exception.

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