#TBT From the NFPA Archives: Mighty New York City Snowplows

Blog Post created by jrodowicz Employee on Mar 16, 2017

In honor of Stella (the overly enthusiastic Nor'easter that managed to shut down a good portion of the Northeastern United States this week and cover us all in a frosty coating), we are highlighting the efforts made by all of the hard working men and women who braved the weather and maintained the roads for our emergency service professionals.



New York City snowplows in February, 1921

New York City shows off its powerful new snowplows in this photograph from February, 1921.


The winter of 1920 was a difficult one with a series of heavy snowstorms throughout the eastern portion of the United States. Although there were no large fires during these storms, the fire departments at the time saw the potential danger that snow-blocked roadways might cause.


From NFPA Quarterly v.14, no.4, 1921:

"The fire fighting equipment was helpless because of the blockade of snow and ice on the streets. Through delays of slow and clumsy methods of removal much snow turned to solid ice, making the difficulty in clearing streets even greater. Weeks elapsed before the city was again on a normal traffic basis. The lesson taught at the time was taken to heart and a series of investigations were conducted by New York officials as to proper equipment for quickly disposing of snow as fast as it fell. To wait until the snowfall had engulfed the city, before starting to clear it away, was obviously the wrong procedure. As a result of these investigations, the city was equipped last fall with 150 ploughs of the caterpillar tractor type and 212 five ton power dumping trucks. One hundred and fourteen of the ploughs were placed under the control of the Fire Department."


For more information regarding this story and other NFPA or fire related history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA LibraryThe NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. Library staff are available to answer reference questions from members and the general public.