By: Brian Reid

Brian is a avid collector of model emergency vehicles and a firefighter with the Anderson Township Fire & Rescue.

Code 3’s Cincinnati Ladder 20

Code 3 Collectibles recently released its first model from the Cincinnati Fire Division.  It comes in the form of CFD Ladder 20, a 110’ E-One Rear Mount Ladder. 

But before reviewing this remarkable model, allow me a moment to attempt to clarify a long-running historical debate.  “Who was the first paid fire department in the US?”  Sure, it seems like a simple enough question, but like so many other historical issues the answer you receive – Boston or Cincinnati – depends on the question you ask.  Fortunately, there seems to be sufficient wiggle room in history to satisfy the egos on both side of the argument. 

If the question is “Who was the first paid fire department in the US?” then the answer is simple:  Boston established the first paid (call) fire department in 1678.  In fact, this was 110 years before Cincinnati even existed!  However, these firemen per paid by the call and responded from home or work when the alarm was sounded. 

Now if the question is “Who was the first full-time career fire department in the US?” then, again, the answer is simple:  Cincinnati established the first full-time fire department on April 1st, 1853.  Boston hired its first full-time firefighters in 1874. 

So there.  Hopefully the boys in Beantown and the Queen City will rest easy tonight.  Okay probably not, but I tried.  Now on with the review… 

CFD Ladder 20 is quartered with Engine 20 at 1668 Blue Rock Rd. in the Northside neighborhood of Cincinnati.  In 2003, Ladder 20 responded to 1,952 runs including 307 working fires.  The ladder company was originally organized a Ladder Co. 5 but was renumbered in 1997 as part of a county-wide numbering scheme.  Its current vehicle is a 2002 E-One rear mount aerial ladder and was selected to be a part of Code 3’s lineup for 2004. 

Photo by Andy Pyott

At first glance, this is a model of a very utilitarian ladder truck.  There isn’t a great deal of chrome, or a fancy paint job, or lots of fancy warning lights.  This just looks like a hard-working, big city fire truck.  And it is.  So some credit is due for Code 3 picking such an ordinary looking model in the first place. 


Photo by Andy Pyott

In pre-production photos, the front bumper carried a Q-Siren like Boston L23.  And while I’m sure Cincinnati’s crews would appreciate the extra warning power, the prototype does not have a mechanical siren.  Fortunately this oversight was caught and the front bumper now accurately displays 2 tow-eyes and nothing more.  As always, the pad printed details are sharp, legible and very well done, particularly the company numbers and letters done in a complicated 3D-style script. 

 While the model accurately uses the E-One Hurricane cab design, there are minor differences between the model and prototype.  Most notably, the 1:1 has the ‘new’ design front cab windows which are squared off at the B-pillar instead of the ‘older’ trapezoid-shaped window frames used in the model and the original rides on a slightly longer cab.   These minor differences do little to detract from the overall effect and were certainly not enough to justify a complete retool of the cab mold.  The only notable omissions on the cab are the 2 floodlights that are mounted over the rear doors on the prototype.

Over the 10 years that CFD has used E-One aerial apparatus, they have utilized 3 different compartment configurations.  The very first CFD E-Ones were configured much like Boston L23 with side mounted ground ladders.  However, Code 3 elected to do a thorough retool of the apparatus body to reflect the most current version and completed it to perfection.  After close scrutiny, I have yet to find anything that was overlooked.  The only minor quibble is that the outriggers should be equipped with marker lights on the diamond plate panels and Code 3 missed this small detail.

 The aerial ladder moves easily through its range of motion, beds perfectly, and is representative of Code 3’s increasingly high standards.  However, like the Boston ladder, the ladder tip protrudes a bit too far beyond the front bumper.  Upon closer inspection, the base section is positioned correctly but each fly section doesn’t retract quite far enough.  Removing the ladder stops near the turntable would resolve this minor fault, but in my opinion this issue isn’t significant enough to require corrective surgery.

 In terms of subject accuracy, this is about as good as it gets.  And given the significant modifications Code 3 made compared to the Boston rear-mount, this one earns a 5 out of 5 stars.  Well done, Code 3.

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