Artistic Skill and Precision

In the world of public service vehicles, few are as iconic and recognizable as the fire truck. While these large, powerful machines have always been a symbol of bravery and protection, there is an aspect of their history that has somewhat faded into obscurity over time. Hand lettering fire trucks, a once-popular practice that dates back to the early 1900s, has been largely replaced by mass-produced decals and digital graphics. In this retrospective, we’ll explore the lost art of hand lettering fire trucks and pay homage to the skilled artists who contributed to this nostalgic tradition.

Hand lettering, also known as sign painting, is a technique that involves creating text, logos, and other designs on a variety of surfaces using paint and brushes. In the case of fire trucks, hand lettering was used to embellish the vehicles with the names of the fire department, station number, and other pertinent information. This process required both artistic skill and precision, as the artist would carefully craft each letter and design element to create a visually striking and harmonious display.


The heyday of hand lettering fire trucks lasted from the early 1900s until the 1960s. During this period, fire trucks were often painted by sign painters, who were highly skilled artisans in their own right. These painters specialized in creating eye-catching, hand-lettered designs that showcased the pride and professionalism of the fire department.

Each fire truck was a unique work of art, with the lettering style, colors, and embellishments varying depending on the preferences of the department and the artist. Some trucks featured ornate, scrolling scripts, while others sported bold, block letters. Gold leaf and other metallic paints were commonly used to create a sense of luxury and prestige.


The decline of hand lettering on fire trucks began in the 1960s, as the advent of new technologies and materials led to the rise of mass-produced decals and vinyl graphics. These pre-made designs were less expensive, quicker to apply, and more durable than hand-painted lettering, making them an attractive option for budget-conscious fire departments.

By the 1980s, hand lettering on fire trucks had become increasingly rare, with only a small number of skilled sign painters continuing to practice the art. Today, it is a niche craft, sought after by collectors and fire departments looking to preserve a piece of their history.

Preserving the Art

Despite the decline in popularity, there are still a handful of artists who continue to practice the art of hand lettering fire trucks. These modern-day sign painters work to keep the tradition alive, often restoring vintage fire trucks or creating custom designs for new vehicles.

Many fire departments and enthusiasts now recognize the value of this lost art, with some even commissioning hand-lettered designs to pay tribute to their department’s heritage. Additionally, museums and private collectors work to preserve and display these historic vehicles, ensuring that future generations can appreciate the unique beauty of hand-lettered fire trucks.

The lost art of hand lettering fire trucks represents a nostalgic and captivating chapter in the history of firefighting. While modern technology has largely replaced the need for hand-painted designs, there remains a deep appreciation for the skill, craftsmanship, and unique beauty that these historic vehicles embody. By celebrating and preserving this art form, we pay homage to the talented artists and dedicated firefighters who have contributed to the rich tapestry of fire service history.

E-ONE Typhoon 4x4 Stainless eMAX Pumper

The Bendersville Community Fire Department in Pennsylvania will soon be adding a state-of-the-art E-ONE Typhoon 4×4 Stainless eMAX Pumper to their fleet. The new pumper was purchased through Fire Line Equipment in New Holland, PA. Fire Line Equipment is the Central PA and Western NY dealer for E-ONE.

The E-ONE Typhoon 4×4 Stainless eMAX Pumper is a cutting-edge fire truck designed to meet the rigorous demands of modern firefighting. Boasting a stainless steel body, this 4×4 pumper is built to withstand harsh environments and provide exceptional durability. The eMAX pump system delivers impressive water flow capabilities, making it a valuable asset for tackling large-scale fires.

As part of their commitment to honoring the fire department’s history, the Bendersville Community Fire Department enlisted the talents of Honorary Member Butch Richie to hand letter the new pumper. By combining traditional hand lettering techniques with the advanced features of the E-ONE Typhoon 4×4 Stainless eMAX Pumper, the department has created a unique firefighting vehicle that pays tribute to the past while embracing the future.

The addition of the E-ONE Typhoon 4×4 Stainless eMAX Pumper to the Bendersville Community Fire Department’s fleet will undoubtedly enhance the department’s ability to respond to emergencies and protect the community. With its blend of advanced technology and nostalgic hand lettering, the new pumper serves as a testament to the department’s dedication to both tradition and innovation.

Honorary Member Butch Richie

Following the graphics installation and training, the E-ONE Typhoon will return to Fire Line Equipment in New Holland, Pennsylvania, for the mounting of loose equipment. This process involves the installation of various tools, hoses, nozzles, and other firefighting essentials that will further enhance the truck’s operational readiness.

Once the final touches have been made and the E-ONE Typhoon is fully equipped, it will be integrated into the Bendersville Community Fire Department’s fleet, ready to serve and protect the community. The department’s investment in this state-of-the-art fire truck, combined with their dedication to training and preserving tradition, underscores their commitment to maintaining the highest standards of safety and service for the residents of Bendersville and its surrounding areas.