#TBT From The NFPA Archives: A Prize Winning Float

Blog Post created by jrodowicz Employee on May 18, 2017

In 1929, a float designed and built by William Aitken, a firefighter attached to Engine Co. No. 2 of the Newark, New Jersey Fire Department, depicting the slogan "Prevent Fire" won eight baby parade prizes within three months in eight different New Jersey municipalities.


A Prize Winning Float

"Firefighters" Billy Aitken, James McNichols and Edward O'Brien operate a prize winning float.


From the NFPA Quarterly v.23, no. 2, 1929:


"Mr. Aitken's son, Billy, five years old, by right of heritage, does the rescue act on the float. His career started in June [1929] when Mr. Aitken entered the float in the Orange baby parade. The float is designed like a house, with fire coming out of the roof. There's a girl in the picture too. She is a beautiful doll-baby calling for help from an upstairs window. The gallant fireman rushes up a ladder to rescue, puts out the fire and saves the child.


On the float stand a small fire engine, hose cart and chief's car. A hose is attached to a fire hydrant and the nozzle is held by the fireman on the ladder. Billy's two cousins, James McNichols and Edward O'Brien, both of Orange, attired in regulation fire costume, pull the float. A bell and siren ring continuously."


For more information regarding this or other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Library

The 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.