Posts Tagged American LaFrance

Evanston Fire Department History – Part 16

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

The Big Stick

On Sunday, December 23, 1906, Isaac Terry was killed instantly when an explosion rocked the Northwestern Gas Light & Coke Company works at Clark & Maple after Terry inadvisedly dumped burning ashes into an oil and coal pit. The pit was 45 feet across and 15 feet deep, with 80,000 gallons of oil in the well. 

Initial firefighting efforts were hampered when the horses pulling Engine 1’s hose-wagon became frightened and ran away immediately upon arriving at the scene after one of the many explosions thundered from the pit, with the horses and the hose cart eventually ending up at Greenwood Boulevard and the lakefront where the fully loaded hose wagon overturned.   

The entire Evanston Fire Department, most of the Wilmette Fire Department — who responded to the blaze aboard their brand new Seagrave combination truck — and two engine companies from the Chicago Fire Department battled the conflagration until 8 PM, with firefighters pouring nearly a million gallons of water onto the inferno. Chicago F. D. Truck Co. 25 changed quarters to Evanston Fire Station # 1 at the height of the blaze.    

A couple of months later, on Saturday February 23, 1907, at 2:30 AM, fire destroyed the garage of Edwin F. Brown at Milburn Street & Sheridan Road. The garage was only worth $3,000, but three luxury automobiles — two valued at $5,000 each and one valued at $2,500, — a gasoline engine, a pool table, a sailboat, and miscellaneous tools and furniture were also destroyed, for a total aggregate loss from fire of $20,000, the seventh highest loss from a fire in Evanston’s history up until that point in time.    
 
Two weeks later, Evanston firefighters had to contend with hazardous chemicals caused by spontaneous combustion of phosphorous while battling a blaze at the Northwestern University Science Hall. The next day, the Evanston City Council appropriated funds to purchase a horse-drawn, 85-foot windlass-operated aerial-ladder truck (HDA) with a four-horse hitch from American-LaFrance, something that had been recommended by Chief Carl Harrison just two weeks earlier. Costing $6,700 and financed with a down-payment and three installment payments made each year 1908-10, the truck was placed into service with Truck Co. 1 at Fire Station # 1 after it arrived in July 1907 (and after the west bay of Station # 1 was lengthened to accommodate the new truck).  

Because the city council declined to appropriate funds to acquire the four new horses needed to pull the HDA, Hose 2 and Hose 3 were taken out of front-line service and placed into reserve, and the four horses that had been used to pull the two hose carts were reassigned to the new HDA. At this point in time (1907), mostly only large cities had aerial ladder trucks in service, and even then, only half of the Chicago Fire Department’s 32 truck companies operated with aerial-ladder trucks.      

To replace the hose carts at Station # 2 and Station # 3, the 1885 Davenport H&L (ex-Truck 1) was transferred from Station # 1 to Station # 3, and hose boxes with capacity for 850 feet of 2-1/2 inch line and a 150-ft lead of 1-1/2 line were installed on both the Seagrave combination truck at Station # 2 and on the Davenport H&L now at Station # 3. Hose Co. 3 was re-designated as Truck Co. 3 at this time, as the EFD now had one engine company and three truck companies in service, with two of the trucks equipped with enough hose to allow the companies at Station # 2 and at Station # 3 to attack fires using direct pressure (plug pressure). 

Evanston Fire Department manpower stood at 30 by the summer of 1907, with nine men (the assistant chief, a lieutenant, an engineer, two assistant engineers, and five firemen) assigned to Engine Co. 1, nine men (a captain, a lieutenant, and seven firemen) assigned to Truck Co. 1, six men (a captain, a lieutenant, and four firemen) assigned to Truck Co. 2, three men (a captain and two firemen) assigned to Truck Co. 3, two chief’s buggy drivers (one primary and one relief), and the chief, with the 29 line firefighters working a 112-hour work week (24 hours on / 12 hours off, with meal breaks taken away from the firehouse, either at home or in a nearby restaurant). So 19 or 20 men were usually on duty at any one time, although men were coming & going constantly.   

The aerial ladder wasn’t needed very often, but on July 4, 1908, Truck 1’s stick was extended to the roof of the First Congregational Church at Lake & Hinman to help suppress a blaze caused by errant fireworks. Chief  Harrison ordered soda-acid chemicals from the Babcock chemical engine and from the Seagrave combination truck to be used to extinguish the blaze, rather than water supplied from the ALF Metropolitan steamer or from direct plug pressure, so as to minimize water damage to the sanctuary.  

The summer of 1908 was unusually hot and dry, and the EFD responded to a record 28 calls over the first five days of August. Firefighters were going out constantly, and on August 5th three alarms were received within a five-minute period, the most serious being a blaze that heavily damaged the C&NW RR platform at Davis Street. Five days later, Evanston firefighters saved the Weise Brothers planing mill and lumber yard on Dodge Avenue after a large prairie fire communicated to a pile of lumber.  

In January 1909, the Evanston City Council approved a pay raise for 27 of the 30 members of the Evanston Fire Department, including a $10 per month increase for the chief, a $5 per month increase for the assistant chief, and a $2.50 per month increase for all other members of the department except for the engineer and the two assistant engineers.    

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Evanston Fire Department History – Part 15

Another installment about History of Evanston Fire Department

THE METROPOLITAN

In March 1906, the Evanston Fire Department took delivery of a new American LaFrance “Metropolitan” 700-GPM second-size steam fire engine with a three-horse hitch. It was the first apparatus acquired by the EFD that required more than two horses to pull it, and it cost $5,500, plus $250 for a new horse that was added to the two already assigned to Engine 1. The new Metropolitan steamer was heavier and more-powerful than the Ahrens Metropolitan 600-GPM second-size steamer with a two-horse hitch that had been in service with the EFD since 1895. 

The plan was for the older Ahrens Metropolitan steamer to be sent to the American LaFrance factory in Elmira, NY, for a complete overhaul, after-which it would be returned to Evanston and placed into service at Station # 2. However, the Evanston City Council declined to appropriate funds to purchase two additional horses and hire additional manpower that would be needed in order to place the second steamer into front-line service, so while the older steamer was indeed moved into Station # 2 after it came back from Elmira, it was kept in reserve status for several years until such time as more horses could be purchased and additional manpower could be hired. 

The Metropolitan was the most-popular steam fire engine of the day, and while Evanston’s new Metropolitan steamer was built by American-LaFrance, the EFD’s older Metropolitan steamer was built by the Ahrens Manufacturing Company of Cincinnati, OH. The Metropolitan was invented in the 1890’s by Chris Ahrens, founder of the Ahrens Manufacturing Company, and along with Button, Clapp & Jones, and Silsby, Ahrens was one of four steam fire engine companies that merged to form the American Fire Engine Company (AFEC) in 1891. This was the era of monopolies and trusts, and the purpose of establishing AFEC was to reduce or maybe even eventually eliminate competition, consolidate the sales force, and maximize profits. Although each of the four companies maintained their own separate corporate identity, AFEC production facilities were located at the Ahrens Manufacturing Company plant in Cincinnati and at the Silsby Manufacturing Company plant in Seneca Falls, NY. However, because the other two major steam fire engine manufacturers of the day — Amoskeag and LaFrance  — did not participate in the merger, the overall benefit of the AFEC consolidation was minimal.

While there were four steam fire engine manufactures under the AFEC umbrella, Ahrens was by far the biggest and most-successful. Ahrens built its Metropolitan steamer in various sizes, and it was sold to fire departments — including the Evanston F. D. — across the country throughout the 1890s. Ahrens also manufactured the radical / eccentric, overly-heavy, and not very successful “Columbian,” which was built for and displayed at the World’s Columbian Exposition at Jackson Park in Chicago in 1893. The Columbian featured both a standard steam engine AND a hose supply-bed on the same rig. The common practice at the time the Columbian was being introduced and marketed was for an engine company to operate with a steam fire engine and a hose cart running as separate rigs, and unfortunately for Ahrens, most fire chiefs at that time just could not see the advantage of combining the two functions in one apparatus.

While the American Fire Engine Company was attempting to establish itself as the “big dog” in the world of steam fire engines, the LaFrance Fire Engine Company was busy acquiring patents for both the Hayes and the Babcock aerial-ladders, the two most popular aerial-ladder designs of the 19th century, effectively giving LaFrance control over the manufacture of all aerial-ladder trucks built in the U. S.  It was not until 1900 — when the American Fire Engine Company merged with LaFrance, Amoskeag, and a number of other manufacturers of firefighting equipment and apparatus such as the Rumsey Company, Gleason & Bailey, the Charles T. Holloway Company, and the Macomber Fire Extinguisher Company to form the International Fire Engine Company, that the trust was fully established.

The International Fire Engine Company name was changed to American-LaFrance Fire Engine Company as all production moved to the LaFrance plant in Elmira, NY, in 1904, but just as with AFEC ten years earlier, post-merger profits were not as great as had been anticipated, in part thanks to a new kid on the block.

The Seagrave Corporation was located in Columbus, OH, and while Seagrave did not build steam fire engines, it did manufacture first-rate horse-drawn chemical engines and hook & ladder trucks, as well as the very popular “combination truck,” so-called because it combined a chemical engine and a hook & ladder truck in one apparatus. Seagrave combination trucks were in service with fire departments across the U. S., and then beginning in 1900, Seagrave started manufacturing horse-dawn aerial-ladder trucks that competed successfully with the American-LaFrance aerial-ladder truck.

Meanwhile, tired of living the life of a retired independently wealthy squire, Chris Ahrens rediscovered his latent entrepreneurial spirit and sold his share in American-LaFrance in 1904. Together with sons John and Fred and son-in-law and Cincinnati Fire Chief Charles H. Fox, formed a new company called the Ahrens Fire Engine Company at the old Ahrens Manufacturing Company plant in Cincinnati. The company’s name was changed to the Ahrens-Fox Fire Engine Company in 1908 when Charles Fox became company president, and it quickly became the # 2 steam fire engine manufacturer and American-LaFrance’s chief competitor in the area of steam fire engines. But it wasn’t easy.

Because American-LaFrance retained all patents held by the various companies that formed ALF — including the Metropolitan patent originally filed by Chris Ahrens in the 1890s  — Ahrens-Fox could not build the Metropolitan. And so instead, Chris Ahrens invented, developed, and built a completely new steam fire engine called the “Continental” that did not infringe on any existing patents, and in fact the Ahrens-Fox Continental sold very well, and might even have eventually matched or even exceeded American-LaFrance’s Metropolitan in sales, except the steam fire engine era came to a rather abrupt end in 1915.

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Firefighters sue over excessive noise from sirens (more)

Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

During 38 years as a Chicago firefighter, George Beary regularly heard the emergency sirens as he rode on the back of the firetruck. Since his retirement in 2005, Beary, the chairman of a committee of retired Chicago firefighters, said he suffers from tinnitus, a condition that causes ringing or buzzing in the ears.

Beary, former vice president of Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2, is among about 4,400 current and former firefighters nationwide who are suing Federal Signal, an Oak Brook-based company that makes sirens, claiming it didn’t do enough to make them safer for those on firetrucks. Since 1999, Beary said he and about 700 Chicago firefighters have filed suit. Some have been settled or ruled on, but the vast majority, about 500, are still open.

Firefighters contend the company could have designed sirens in a way that directs the volume away from areas where firefighters sit in the engines, shielding them from sound blasts that lawyers say reach 120 decibels, roughly equivalent to a rock concert.

Federal Signal argues that directing the sound defeats one of the main purposes of a siren — to warn motorists and pedestrians that a truck is coming. And it says it has long supported what many departments have advised their firefighters to do: wear ear protection.

David Duffy, attorney for Federal Signal, said studies measuring the level of noise firefighters are exposed to during their work shifts, including sirens, is on average below 85 decibels.

The lawsuits, which began surfacing more than a decade ago, have been in places such as New York, Philadelphia, Boston, New Jersey and the Chicago area, said attorney Marc Bern, who’s leading all of them. In documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said juries have decided in favor of Federal Signal in most of the half-dozen or so suits that have gone to trial.

The company also has settled in some cases without admitting any wrongdoing. The largest settlement, reached in 2011, required the company to pay $3.6 million to 1,069 firefighters for cases filed in Philadelphia.

Federal standards take into account the intensity of the sound and the duration. The higher the decibel level, the shorter the time workers can be exposed to it. Rick Neitzel, who studies noise and other exposures at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said the standards are geared to traditional jobs like manufacturing, not firefighting, where shifts can last longer and the exposure is intermittent but intense.

thanks Dan

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Firefighters sue over excessive noise from sirens

The Buffalo News has an article on a lawsuit by firefighters over excessive noise from emergency sirens.

There are few things more synonymous with firefighting than the loud, anxiety-inducing siren of an approaching fire engine. But are those ubiquitous sirens also damaging the hearing of the men and women who ride the trucks?

More than 190 Buffalo firefighters think so, and have filed suit seeking damages for their injuries.

The suits, which are similar to civil cases filed by firefighters in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Chicago, claim the companies that made or used the sirens “knew or should have known” they were harmful.

The lawsuits – 20 are now pending in Buffalo federal court – seek an unspecified amount in damages for each of the 193 firefighters named in them. Filed in state court in September, they recently were moved to federal court by the six defendants.

“All parties are entitled to have their rights determined by the judicial system, and that applies to defendants as well as plaintiffs,” said Anthony J. Colucci III, a lawyer for Pierce Manufacturing, one of the defendants.

This is not the first time firefighters have sued over a loss of hearing. In early 2011, Federal Signal Corp., a manufacturer of fire engine sirens, announced a settlement with 1,125 firefighters represented by one of the lawyers in the Buffalo case.  Under that settlement, the company offered to pay $3.8 million, but characterized the offer as a “favorable development.” The Illinois-based manufacturer cited its success in obtaining defense verdicts in cases that went to trial and its track record in getting other suits dismissed by the court. The settlement offer amounted to an average of $3,380 for each of the firefighters.

“Federal Signal has strong defenses to these claims, and we are committed to defending our siren products and litigating these cases as necessary,” said Jennifer Sherman, chief administrative officer and general counsel for the company, at the time. “Sirens are necessary public safety products and save lives.”

Bern alleges that his clients were subjected to a harmful work environment and, in court papers, suggests that several factors contributed to their hearing loss, including a truck compartment that by design invited excessive noise. He also says the compartment lacked adequate sound insulation.

In the 2011 announcement of the Federal Signal settlement, a lawyer for the 1,125 firefighters called the offer a satisfactory resolution and acknowledged the difficulty in winning the hearing loss cases.

The other defendants in the lawsuits are American LaFrance, Kovatch Mobile Equipment, Seagrave Fire Apparatus and Mack Trucks, all of Pennsylvania.

The link between noise and hearing loss in firefighters dates back decades. In 1992, then-U.S. Fire Administrator Olin L. Greene, the nation’s top fire official, said noise is probably “the most underrated health hazard” for firefighters and emergency service personnel.

More recently, a University of California study in 2007 found 40 percent of all firefighters were at risk of noise-induced hearing loss. The study of more than 400 firefighters from 35 fire departments in California, Illinois and Indiana also found that firefighters use ear protection devices – ear muffs and ear plugs – only about a third of the time.

 

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American LaFrance … sad news (follow up)

An article in ourgazette.com has a follow article to the sudden closing of American LaFrance Fire Apparatus in South Carolina:

A former employee who said he locked the gate to American LaFrance earlier this year stood inside the Patillo building once again Wednesday — this time, not as an employee, but as one of hundreds interested in the county’s sales of the dissolved company’s business personal assets.

American LaFrance closed in January, ending employment for hundreds and leaving behind a $650,000 debt to taxpayers in an economic development deal.

On Wednesday, the county sought to recoup that money in a public auction of the debts at the company’s final resting place on Cypress Gardens Road.

According to the county supervisor, Dan Davis, this is likely the only time a county has had to sell off a company’s business personal property in an economic deal killed by the company essentially disappearing.

Prior to the 9 a.m. start Wednesday, more than 90 had pre-registered online, and more than 70 had pre-registered for in-person bidding the day before.

Scout Boats President Steve Potts drove over from his Summerville plant to get a deal. His No. 1 item of interest? Bridge cranes.

Robert Holseberg of Rewined Candles in Charleston was also looking for extra equipment to aid in his company’s expansion. He was particularly interested in the forklifts, tables and cabinets.

The company’s inventory, which includes firetrucks in various stages of completion, was not in Wednesday’s sale. The county says the owners of the Patillo building have claim to it due to American LaFrance defaulting on its lease. A representative of the Patillo building said they are still trying to reach someone within the company to settle the issue.

thanks Dan

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American LaFrance … sad news (more)

The our gazette.com in South Carolina wrote this interesting followup article on the closing of American LaFrance.

[A] building stands in a graveyard of machinery, empty except for the occasional groundskeeper drop-by. Inside, the building hums with electricity, but the domed lights overhead barely dent the darkness. Overturned chairs, pushed together desks, and walls lined with unfinished work serve as a reminder: no one works here anymore.

The 300,000 square-foot Patillo building on Cypress Gardens Road now houses all that is left of 100-plus-year-old firetruck maker American LaFrance, which closed in January.

“It’s just a nightmare,” County Supervisor Dan Davis told the Independent during an exclusive tour of the warehouse. Davis wasn’t talking about the loss of 200 jobs — which devastated the community in its own right. Davis was talking about the fallout of the company’s closure and its large, outstanding debt to the county.

When American LaFrance shut down, it owed $650,000 to the county. In the years following its 2008 bankruptcy, company officials worked with the county, unable to pay toward its fee-in-lieu of tax deal offered for economic development. The unpaid fee was on its business personal property.

Though the company was struggling prior, the Great Recession played a part in the death of American LaFrance. Shrinking emergency services’ budgets were likely a direct blow to the company. Davis said, just last year, officials from Rio de Janeiro visited the facility as they prepared to contract a firetruck manufacturer for more than 100 vehicles in preparation for the 2016 Olympics. American LaFrance didn’t get the contract. If it had, Davis said, it might have been able to weather the Great Recession.

Since January, Berkeley County has embarked into uncharted territory: reclaiming the debt. It’s a first for a county in South Carolina, so there is no precedent. The amount owed to Berkeley County doesn’t stop with $650,000. The county has had to foot the $2,800 monthly lease for the space and more for its humming electricity. More public money has been spent on working with a number of attorneys to determine how to legally proceed. Most weeks, the county expends about 40 man-hours dedicated to American LaFrance and the fallout. It took 12 county employees a week to consolidate the company’s property to one facility. When the company closed, it was operating out of two locations.

Berkeley County will auction off the business personal property later this year, likely in June. Already, the county contracted a private company to inventory what’s inside the warehouse. The public funds used in the meantime will be added to American LaFrance’s debt — covered by money raised in the auction.

Berkeley County only has claim to the business personal property — desks, chairs, pictures, everything essential to making a business run. After an auction to reclaim the debt owed, the company’s inventory — the unfinished firetrucks, the engines, the transmissions, everything essential to making emergency vehicles — will likely be auctioned off by the property owner since American LaFrance has already defaulted and owes the owner money.

With the debt owed to public and private enterprises, no one seems able to raise an American LaFrance representative to pay the bills or collect the inventory.

thanks Dan

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American LaFrance … sad news (more)

There are updates about American LaFrance since they closed their doors last month.

From WCBD TV:

According to a press release sent to News 2, a class action law-suit has been filed on behalf of two former employees of American LaFrance, a South Carolina-based fire truck manufacturer that closed without warning last week.

Richardson Patrick Westbrook & Brickman (RPWB) said the two former employees filed suit against the plant claiming they and others weren’t given proper notice of termination under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) before being laid off January 17, 2014.  Both employees worked for American LaFrance for approximately 10 years until their termination.

News 2 reached out to American LaFrance about the WARN violation when they closed, the have yet to respond. However, in a statement sent via e-mail American LaFrance claims, “Unfortunately, the company’s unexpected current financial condition requires the discontinuation of operations in these locations at this time and these facilities are not expected to reopen.”

Richardson Patrick attorney Jay Ward, who represents the former employees, said, “These employees have been left out in the cold.  Not only did they lose wages and benefits, they lost the time they needed to search for new employment. Our firm has extensive experience in protecting the rights of workers locally and nationally, and our goal is to make sure these employees receive all they are due.”

American LaFrance abruptly closed its facilities in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, Ephrata, Pennsylvania, and Los Angeles, California, which resulted in the layoffs of approximately 150 employees.

From the Summerville Journal:

A week after the unexpected closing of American LaFrance’s Berkeley County location, a law firm has filed suit on behalf of laid off employees.

The company moved in August from its 450,000-square-foot Summerville factory to a 103,000-square-foot building at 164 Spring Grove Road, off Cypress Gardens Road in Moncks Corner.

Richardson Patrick Westbrook & Brickman has announced via the firm’s website that a class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of two former employees of American LaFrance LLC, the Moncks Corner-based fire truck manufacturer.

The two former employees filed suit against the plant claiming they and others weren’t given proper notice of termination under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) before being laid off Jan. 17, 2014. Both employees worked for American LaFrance for approximately 10 years until their termination.

Richardson Patrick attorney Jay Ward, who represents the plaintiffs, said the sudden and unexpected closing was not handled properly.

“These employees have been left out in the cold,” he said. “Not only did they lose wages and benefits, they lost the time they needed to search for new employment. Our firm has extensive experience in protecting the rights of workers locally and nationally, and our goal is to make sure these employees receive all they are due.”

American LaFrance abruptly closed its facilities in Moncks Corner, Ephrata, Pa., and Los Angeles, which resulted in the layoffs of approximately 150 employees.

In a written statement to employees obtained by firehouse.com, the 173-year-old manufacturer of fire, rescue and other emergency vehicles, announced it was closing its warehouse, production and service facilities in Moncks Corner; Ephrata, Pa.; and Los Angeles.

“Unfortunately, the company’s unexpected current financial condition requires the discontinuation of operations in these locations at this time and these facilities are not expected to reopen,” the statement read.

American LaFrance moved its headquarters and main assembly plant from North Charleston to Summerville in mid-2007.

The company filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2008 after having lost $104 million over the previous two years.

From WSOCTV.com

In two months, the Hickory Fire Department was supposed to get a brand new $700,000 ladder truck. But that won’t happen after the company building it shut down. The new ladder truck was supposed to replace a truck that is almost 15 years old at Fire Station Three.

The city went with American LaFrance, a company they had used before and has made thousands of trucks for more than 100 years.

The gates at the American LaFrance plant in South Carolina are padlocked and the 150 employees laid off Friday evening. Staff with the city of Hickory said they visited the plant just last month to look at the progress of the ladder truck they ordered.

Mayor Rudy Wright was stunned when Channel 9 told him the company that started production in the 1800s is ceasing operations. “That is a tremendous tragedy for one of the great brand names in American history,” he said. “I feel for the employees. I can ensure you who were working hard to the last day to try to do the right thing.”

Channel 9 learned that American LaFrance built Hickory’s very first fire truck back in 1914 when the department had only one full-time employee.

“Thousands of trucks across the country. It is one of the most quality companies in America,” collector Lee Huffman said.

When Channel 9 called the company Monday, no one answered.  In a press release, American LaFrance said it was closing the facilities because of unexpected financial struggles.

The city said they paid much of the money for the $700,000 truck upfront because the company offered a discount. They are not sure if and when they’ll get the truck which was scheduled to arrive in early spring but did said they got a performance bond as insurance so they should be able to get their money back.

Huffman and his family own several old American LaFrance trucks. He hopes the company delivers.  “It puts the city of Hickory in a bad position as far as getting a new truck,” he said. City leaders said they will meet Tuesday morning to discuss their options. The mayor said the city is protected and will get a new truck.

From Lancaster OnLine:

Firetruck and rescue vehicle manufacturer American LaFrance has closed its warehouse, production and service facility in West Earl Township and two other plants.

American LaFrance released a statement confirming the closure of the plant on Cocalico Creek Road, as well as sites in Moncks Corner, S.C., and Los Angeles, idling at least 150 workers. It blamed the move on its “unexpected current financial condition,” while offering no details.

“The company is advising its customers that they will be able to continue obtaining replacement parts and service for vehicles manufactured by American LaFrance from a new third party vendor,” the company statement reads. “American LaFrance will contact customers with information about where they can obtain parts and service for their vehicles in the near future.”

In 2009, according to newspaper records, the business announced plans to close but reversed the decision. The West Earl Township plant kept operating and a service center was added, although the workforce was cut to about 50 employees.

With a 173-year history of fire vehicle manufacturing that includes hand-drawn, horse-drawn and steam-powered fire engines, American LaFrance established a presence in Lancaster County by purchasing Ladder Towers Inc. about 15 years ago. The local plant made firetrucks with aerial ladders reaching as high as 110 feet.

The parent firm, based in South Carolina, eventually fell on hard times, filing for bankruptcy reorganization in 2008. Instead of making 100 trucks a year at the West Earl Township facility, volume dropped to 50, a plant official said at the time.

thanks Dan

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American LaFrance … sad news

Sad news in the fire apparatus industry out of South Carolina – this is from SConFire.com

American LaFrance logo

 

SConFire.com has confirmed that American LaFrance LLC (Fire Apparatus Builders)  based in Moncks Corner, Pimlico and Ephrata Pa have CLOSED their DOORS today @ 5pm. Telling employees they are closed and not to return next week, we have reached out to Patriarch Partners the Parent Company of ALF for comment, we will bring more news as soon as we can confirm more details. Estimates are over 150 people are out of a job today due to these actions.

American LaFrance fire engine

 

thanks Dennis & Shawn 

 

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Palos Heights FPD is added to the site

Palos Heights Fire Protection District patchThe Palos Heights Fire Protection District has been added to MABAS Division 19. This now completes all of Division 19 departments. Palos Heights has two stations with 22 career personnel covering 4.5 square miles. Each station has a jump company that will staff the engine or ambulance. The ambulance is staffed by two and the officer follows in 6408 or 6418.

Engines are from American LaFrance or Pierce, and the ambulances are either Medtec or Road Rescue. Palos Heights does not have an aerial unit. They also maintain a retire ambulance for their dive team.

Palos Heights Fire Protection District

Palos Heights Fire Protection District headquarters station 1 at 12300 S. Harlem Avenue. Karl Klotz photo

Palos Heights Fire Protection District American LaFrance

Palos Heights Fire Protection District Engine 6403, a 2005 American LaFrance Eagle which runs out of Station 1. Karl Klotz photo

Palos Heights Fire Protection District Pierce Lance engine

Palos Heights Fire Protection District Engine 6413 which runs out of Station 2. Larry Shapiro photo

 

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Thoughts on CFD apparatus needs – a commentary

Thoughts from Bill Post about recent comments made regarding CFD spare apparatus for Tower Ladder 10 and Squad 1:

One of the great things about Tower Ladder 10’s location, is that they are not more than a mile and a half away from Fleet Management (the shops), so they could easily have work done on their rig whenever they wish. The oldest front line tower ladders though are three, 1996 HME/LTIs that are at Tower Ladders 21, 37, and 39, all of which are 16 years old. The CFD had been trying to replace most of their rigs within 10 to 15 years of frontline service. That said, Tower Ladder 21’s rig looks pretty good and it’s been getting it’s share of extra alarms lately. Tower ladders are listed on the city of Chicago’s official 2012 buying plan issued by the department of Procurement Services. This means that they intend to have bids requested to build them.

My concern is about the spare Snorkel that was running as Squad 1. That’s the only spare 55′ Snorkel left. I understand that it’s twin was gotten rid of over the last few years. Most readers of this site probably know by now that the CFD has been wanting to replace the three Snorkel Squads for the last few years, and that it has even been listed on Chicago’s official buying plan.

The catch, is that American LaFrance (ALF) holds the manufacturing rights to the Snorkel brand that they acquired from the old Snorkel corporation that went out of business (over 10 years ago), and ALF refuses to build any new Snorkels. The alternative is to rehab and remount an old Snorkel on a new chassis and body which several fire departments that still use Snorkels have done already. When there are fewer Snorkels out there, it becomes more difficult to even find Snorkels to rebuild and remount. 

I have heard that there may be other manufacturers that would be willing to design their own aerial similar to a "Snorkel", however it would be very expensive.  So, it would be much simpler if American LaFrance would just sell the rights to the Snorkel if not just build them again. Even though you see less of them in use, there are still a few major and several smaller fire departments that use Snorkels. The Memphis (TN) fire department had been running with two single-piece Snorkel Squads (which had been been using remounted Snorkels on newer chassis) and the Philadelphia (PA) fire department had been using two remounted full-size Snorkels. Since both Memphis and Chicago make extensive use of the smaller Snorkel Squads, it would be a good idea if they would start a class-action suit against American LaFrance to either manufacture the Snorkel or to at least let another company (who is willing to build the Snorkel) have the specs and rights to build them. The irony about this is that the Chicago Fire Department and our old repair shops is where the idea for the original Snorkel began, and our old repair shops even outfitted the original Snorkel for fire service applications. American LaFrance now owns the original Snorkel (which served as Snorkel 1 and Snorkel Squad 3) as part of their historic collection, even though they never actually built or outfitted the rig. The boom and platform were actually built by the Pitman Corporation. It really seems as if they are holding the fire service (in general) and Chicago Fire Department (in particular) hostage.

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