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CSFA Steamer History


Reno Engine 1 - Then & Now...

The Steamer - An American Icon from HubiePictures on Vimeo.

The 1902 American steamer engine and its three Percheron draft horses, dubbed the CSFA Steamer Team, is a crowd favorite at events throughout California. Owned and lovingly restored by Dave and Barbara Hubert, this team is part of the CSFA Historical Society, and its mission is to educate the public about fire prevention and life safety while preserving fire service history and heritage.

This elegant piece of firefighting history was manufactured in 1902 in Cincinnati, Ohio by the American Fire Engine Company. It was built for the City of Reno and became Reno Fire Department's Engine #1, serving the community there for 20 years. It then went into service for the Southern Pacific Railroad, and for a short time it rode the firefighting trains that protected the snow sheds along the California Sierra Nevada. Then for sixty years, the steamer went missing, until Dave and Barbara Hubert found it rusting away in a barn in Fallbrook, California. The Hubert's fell in love with it, and wanted to restore it, and to Dave's surprise, Barbara gave it to him for their 25th wedding anniversary.

According to Dave Hubert, a retired Captain with the Orange County Fire Authority, the restoration process took approximately 5 years. During this time, he searched for missing parts and when he could not find certain pieces, he had them fabricated according to their original specifications. The Hubert's commissioned the Amish wagon makers to rebuild the wheels, and Dave studied the art of gold leafing, applying the ornate designs himself. Keeping true to the period, he painted the Daisy artwork into the leafing, which was the symbol of the City of Reno in that era. The solid brass pump and motor were also restored to working condition, and the steam-driven pump is capable of pumping 1000 gallons of water per minute using 5 lbs. of coal. The restoration project was completed in 1995 and the steamer debuted in Sacramento, where the California State Firefighters' Association, the West Coast's largest fire association, is based.

Since then, the CSFA Steamer Team has traveled through the State of California to promote fire prevention and life safety education and to preserve fire service history. They attend an average of 50 shows a year, bringing the horse team to about 30 of those events. According to CSFA Steamer Team Member George Toussaint, there are about 6 to 7 trained individuals who assist with the loading and unloading of the steamer, which weighs 10,000 lbs. Of these team members, at least 3 must attend each event, also assisting with crowd control to ensure the safety of those in attendance at the venues.

Traveling with the team is the Hubert's popular 9-year old Dalmatian, Blaze, who was specially trained to teach children about fire safety. Barbara Hubert says, "Blaze is such an attention getter that we're hoping the children will better retain the various safety messages she helps them learn after visiting with her."
The CSFA Steamer is a rare piece of American fire service history. There were only 170 of these engines built, and today only eight of them remain. According to Dave Hubert, "Seven of them are in museums, and this is the only one that travels and is still functional."

See the Steamer Photo Gallery!


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915 L Street, Suite C-215, Sacramento, CA 95814 ~ Phone: 800-451-2732 ~ Fax: 916-446-9889

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