Detroit Fire Department History – June 7th – First Ambulance & Coffee Wagon

Today in DFD History – June 7th, 1927

Detroit Fire Department’s first ambulance went into service at Second and Burroughs, Engine 17’s quarters. 

1927 dfd ambulance

This was only the second such unit in the United States. The ambulance was a gift to the department from Paxton Mendelssohn, a fire buff that later became a member of the Board of Fire Commissioners, in memory of his mother, Lydia. The ambulance also served as the department’s Coffee Wagon.


Mendelssohn also donated the departments second ambulance in 1937, once again in memory of Lydia.

1937 ambulance

This ambulance was custom built on a Cadillac chassis by the Meteor Motor Company of Piqua, OH.  In 1951 it was completely rebuilt and modernized, once again as a gift from Paxton.


1969 rolled around and once again Paxton donates a brand new modern Medical Unit to the department.  As always, it was donated in memory of his mother.

1969 detroit medical unit


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