PHOTOS: In nearly 50 years of reminiscing about his hometown of Park Ridge with fellow members of the Park Ridge Historical Society, a favorite topic for Ralph R. Bishop was his adventures with the Lil’ Pirsch fire truck, first bought by the city in 1921.
His father, Ralph E. Bishop, was fire chief when the city bought the pumper truck, built by Nash. The original chassis turns 100 this year, but by 1932 the department decided it needed to be rebuilt to replace the hard tires and wooden spokes on the wheels, and double the water tank capacity from 250 gallons to 500 gallons. The makeover, by Pirsch, based in Kenosha, WI, gave it a new name. the Lil’ Pirsch, and an official age based on the 1932 parts. Ralph and his brother Emmett grew up in a fire department family so he learned to help care for it, to drive it, and to nurse it through fires when service stations were few and far between. He also repaired Model T. Fords.