We held an evening meeting recently for many who are working on the Marin Fire History project. One of many topics discussed was what might happen to some historical fire assets that have long been displayed at the headquarters of the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company in Novato. Specifically, none of us knew what might happen to the 1923 Ford Model T Fire Truck that was the first motorized apparatus for the old Novato Volunteer FD.
We are happy to report that just a week later, the Fireman's Fund Company, a division of Allianz, a global financial services company, donated the Model T back to Novato FPD. They also donated the old Broderick hand pumper engine back to the San Francisco FD. A ceremony was held in front of their headquarters building in Novato. We are sad to report that Fireman's Fund is being absorbed and partially sold by Alianz, and will no longer exist as a company after 151 years of service.
Fireman's Fund Insurance Company was founded by ship captain William Holdredge in San Francisco in 1863. The company name came from a pledge by the founders to donate 10 percent of profits to the San Francisco Fire Department Charitable Fund supporting widows and orphans of fallen firemen. In 1871, the company paid all of its claims from the Great Chicago Fire within 60 days, nearly wiping out all of the company's capital. In 1906, the great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire destroyed company headquarters and all records, but they were able to pay all policyholder claims with a combination of cash and stock. Claims were taken “on their word” as all insurance documents were destroyed.
Beginning in 2004, Fireman's Fund started The Heritage Program, which would result in the donation of over $28 million dollars in grants to fire departments in America. This was a recommitment of its founding philanthropic mission to support the fire service. Grants were given to local fire departments to help purchase new equipment, tools and training. They've been a great friend to the fire service....we'll miss you Fireman's Fund! See our Historical Apparatus pages under the "More" tab on our website for more information and photos on the Model T.
Our Blog announces new site content, and gives the context of the topic and it's relationship to fire service history. Written by Tom Forster.