A trip in 1984 was my first time photographing fire trucks in Washington, DC. The fire department was known as DCFD, and the apparatus was painted red with a very wide white stripe around the middle. Back then, the stripe was painted on, not applied using reflective tape. Truck 1 was one of the first (perhaps the first) 135′ aerial that was sold by E-ONE. It was on a Spartan chassis because they had not yet introduced their own custom Hurricane chassis. It was a much simpler time in many respects, and setting up this shot on the National Mall was not difficult.I chose a spot that was several blocks away to highlight the capital building while still making sure that the fire truck was the main focus. I was careful to position the camera so that the nozzle at the tip of the waterway was clearly visible with only blue sky behind it.
Not long after the shot of Truck 1 was taken, the fire department adopted a new design for their vehicles. One of the early units with the new colors was this 1988 Grumman AerialCat for Truck 10. It was one of a pair of twins that were delivered. This was another example of a shot to include the US Capital, though I confess it’s not my best work. I’m unhappy about the turned wheel and the fact that the island obstructs my view of the pavement under the rear axle. I seem to remember that we were having some difficulty with lighting and placement for the two trucks together. These were considerably heavier than the truck I photographed on the mall.
Still another visit to DC for an E-ONE heavy rescue assigned to Squad 1. This time, I was there in the morning and couldn’t shoot from the other side of the capital as I had in the past. There’s not much access from this side with a view of the dome, and the firemen suggested a spot along the curb near the building. If you look real close, you can just barely make out a piece of the dome between the trees … not my best work here either. It’s a beautiful shot of the rig, but it doesn’t depict classic DC like I wanted to.
This shot comes with a story. Since I enjoy shooting fire trucks for myself, the guys brought two other trucks along with the rescue squad so I could photograph them as well. We pulled up along the curb and I got out of one truck … and there’s this long line of trucks with about a dozen or so firefighters. I walked across the street to setup my tripod for the shot, and I found myself surrounded by several US Capital Police cars … a spotter inside the building saw someone with a tripod across the street, and there was concern for a security threat …
There’s never a dull moment in DC.
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