Two types of PS.

Pumping water for firefighting requires a lot of power over an extended period. The Daimler motor fire engine, built in 1892, uses a 3-litre 2-cylinder engine with 5.1 kW (7 PS) and a pump to deliver 300 litres of water per minute. At that time, however, the fire brigade still needed the eponymous type of horsepower to get to the scene of the incident: in front of the vehicle, powerful horses put their backs into it. This is because the combustion engine only drives the water pump. At the time, this is a very advanced solution.

Carriage technology.

Gottlieb Daimler’s first car of 1886 was a horse-drawn carriage with a combustion engine. The motorised fire engine, on the other hand, is actually a carriage with classic turntable steering. Necessary components such as the drawbar are stowed on the side of the vehicle within easy reach – clearly visible on the Mercedes-Benz Museum exhibit in Legend Room 1: Pioneers – The Invention of the Car, 1886 to 1900. This means that the fire brigade can quickly harness up and move out in the event of an alarm.


Firefighting technology and the organisation of fire protection in Germany made rapid progress at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. This is promoted by experiences such as the great fire of Hamburg in 1842, which destroyed a third of the city.

After that, the realisation that firefighting needs to be improved takes hold.

The first German professional “Feuerwehr”, the German term for “fire brigade”, was founded in Berlin as early as 1851. The term has only been in use there for four years: the earliest record of the word is exactly 175 years old and comes from a report of the Karlsruhe fire brigade to the municipal council dated 24 August 1847. Immediately after its foundation in the same year, it initially still operates under the name “Pompiercorps”.


The new technology of the high-speed combustion engine, developed by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach for a variety of purposes, fits in with the spirit of optimism among German fire brigades in this era. Just three years after the patent application for the innovative single-cylinder “grandfather clock” engine in 1885, Daimler applied for a patent for a fire engine with a 1 hp single-cylinder engine on 29 July 1888. The exhibit in the Mercedes-Benz Museum follows the technical principle described in German Imperial Patent 46779. Those who want to have a look at the “grandfather clock” will find it standing not far from the fire engine in the Museum.

Baptism of fire.

The fire extinguisher on display proved its worth in a major fire at a bed spring factory in Cannstatt as early as 1892. For five hours, the pump continuously delivers water to extinguish the roof truss fire at a height of 20 metres. A real feat of strength – it would have taken at least 32 firefighters to operate the pump with human power, and it would have been an energy-sapping operation. The practical example underlines the high efficiency of the Daimler engine as a drive for fire pumps.


For many decades now, the car has been established as a versatile helper for fire protection. Today, the range extends from the almost 70-metre-long turntable ladder to the all-terrain firefighting vehicle based on the Unimog for fighting forest fires. In vehicles with a permanently installed fire pump, the traction motor also serves as the pump drive. The Mercedes-Benz Museum is showing two highlights from the history of fire engines in Collection Room 3: The Gallery of Helpers. Here you can see a Benz motor fire engine from 1912 and a Mercedes-Benz LF 3500 turntable ladder DL 22 from 1952.