Peter Pirsch founded was the son a Germany immigrant who worked as a wagon maker in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Peter worked for his father for a while before starting his own company in 1900 to build ladders of his design. This company soon began building horse- and hand-drawn hose wagons and ladder trucks. In 1908, Pirsch built its first motor fire apparatus. In 1919, the firm’s name was changed to Peter Pirsch and Sons Company.
Pirsch became one of the leading builders of aerial ladders in the 1930s. In 1931, Pirsch introduced the first aerial ladder with a hydro-mechanical hoist. In 1932, Pirsch introduced its Junior aerial ladder. This inexpensive design allowed many fire departments to be able afford their first aerial ladder truck. In 1936, Pirsch delivered the first fully powered 100-foot all metal aerial ladder. The next year Pirsch introduced its distinctive lattice-girder aluminum-alloy aerial ladder.
Pirsch was one of the leading builders of fire apparatus after World War Two. In 1961 Pirsch introduced its own cab-forward model, which was dubbed the Safety Cab. In 1984, Pirsch ceased production of its distinctive lattice-girder aluminum-alloy aerial ladder and introduced its new Skytop 100-foot aerial ladder. The design was short-lived. In 1986, Pirsch ceased production and filed for bankruptcy.
The SPAAMFAA Archives has an amazing collection containing tens of thousands of images of fire apparatus. Ultimately we have lofty goals of cataloging, indexing, scanning, and digitizing everything electronically, with copies of most of the illustrative material cross available for personal-use. In the meantime you can view a selection of these images on our SmugMug gallery: