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About Engine Three

Engine Three is a 1928 Model 145 Pumper with Tank manufactured by the American LaFrance Company.



Engine Three History

In December of 1926, a fire started in the Magnolia Hotel in downtown St. Augustine, Florida. The St. Augustine Fire Department responded to the alarm with the two trucks they had and were assisted by reinforcements from nearby Jacksonville and Palatka, however, the hotel was destroyed.

In April of 1928, this tragedy, and the expansion of the city across the Bridge of Lions on Anastasia Island, led the St. Augustine City Commission to approve the purchase one of the most advanced fire engines of the time, an American LaFrance Model 145.

With an on-board tank holding 90 gallons of water and the ability to pump at a rate of 1,000 gallons per minute, this pumper allowed fire personnel to begin attacking a fire immediately on arrival. This vehicle became Engine Number Three.

Engine Number Three served the St. Augustine Fire Department from 1928 to 1954. The last fire Engine Three fought was the Alhambra Hotel fire in September of 1954, where it pumped continuously for over eight hours. After that fire, Engine Three served in reserve and as a training vehicle.

While still listed as a reserve truck, The SAFD used #3 more as a public relations and fire safety awareness tool, driving it in parades and displaying it in other public functions. By 1972, the truck was in serious need of repair, and firemen R.C. "Bubba" Stratton and Roger Mitchell took the challenge. Spending over 2,000 hours of their personal time, they repaired, cleaned, and repainted the truck. 

In 1974, the City of St. Augustine decided to sell the truck. It was purchased by local auto dealer Ned Mcquaig of Davis Shores. From 1974 until the late 1990's. Mr. Mcquaig and his family kept the truck in excellent shape, driving the truck in St. Augustine's Easter Parade for many years. Eventually, the Mcquaig family moved the vehicle to a storage facility in Jacksonville. In 2002, the Mcquaig family sold the truck to the DeLand Truck Center. 

In 2015, the truck was purchased by an antique vehicle collector and history enthusiast in DeLeon Springs. He contacted the SAFD to ask if the department would be interested in getting its truck back.

J.C. Costiera, the then SAFD Fire Chief, took the call and traveled down to see what shape the engine was in. Amazed at the relatively good shape of the engine and knowing the importance of this vehicle to the history of the SAFD, he began looking for ways to convince the city to re-purchase the truck. In March of 2015, J.C. made a presentation to the City Commission and, with the support of the Friends of Engine Three, the Commission unanimously agreed to re-purchase the truck.