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In 1851, Cincinnati was a rapidly growing city with 14 volunteer fire companies equipped with hand pumpers. Extremely competitive, the volunteers worked hard to get 'first water' on a fire. Unfortunately, a small fire turned into a conflagration when Washington Fire Co. 1 fought Western Hose Co. 3 over the use of the closest fire hydrant. Shortly after the fire, Miles Greenwood, owner of a major Cincinnati foundry and machine shop was approached by Alexander Latta and Able Shawk with a design for a steam pumper that would eliminate the need for the volunteers. Greenwood agreed to take on the politically sensitive project but decided to do the work in secret rather than at his factory. For the same reason, he hired a young German machinist, Chris Ahrens, to do the actual building of the engine.
The steamer was a success and led to the formation of the first paid fire department in the United States. Ahrens formed his own company and in 1891 hired a brilliant young man from the Cincinnati Fire Department to join him. Charles Fox had joined the CFD in 1882 and by 1889 risen through the ranks to become Assistant Chief, Master Mechanic, and Architect of the fire department. In 1892, Mr. Fox married Ahrens' daughter and in 1911 Charles Fox became president of the Ahrens-Fox Fire Engine Company.
Under Fox's leadership, Ahrens-Fox became one of the first builders of motorized fire apparatus and in 1919 introduced the revolutionary Model J fire pumper with shaft drive, pneumatic tires, an electric starter, and a 12 volt electrical system. Encouraged by the success of the Model J, Ahrens-Fox expanded the line to include the Model N with a larger motor and a 1000 gpm pump. This authentic model of the N-S-4 represents the most successful fire engine ever manufactured by Ahrens-Fox. In the Ahrens-Fox numbering scheme, the 'N' indicates a 1000 gpm pump, the 'S' a shaft drive, and the '4' a booster tank.
Yat Ming Signature Series Diecast No. 20108