Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pemfab - correction and expansion

In my piece about bus bodies below I referred in one of the photo captions to a fire engine in the background as a Pemfab/Thibault. This was an error - since corrected. It was in fact a Pemfab/Pierreville.
I won't get into the machinations of ownership issues between various elements of the Thibault family in the 1980s. [see Canadian Fire Truck Archive for a good explanation: ]
But here is the explanation for my mistake.
Halifax Fire Department bought a number (I think four) Pierreville 1250 gpm pumpers in 1982. They were fitted with the Pemberton Fabricators, Pemfab 93 cabs - a really stylish model that was also highly distinctive. Each of the four peninsula stations was assigned one of these pumpers (#1, #3, #4, and #7 engine companies.)
One of the pumpers (#1 engine company) was in a collision (at the corner of Spring Garden and Queen , I think) in about 1985. By that time Pierreville Fire Trucks had gone out of business, and the remains were sent to Pemfab in New Jersey for rebuilding. The Pemfab 93 cab had been discontinued, so the engine was fitted with the Pemfab 95 cab - a really ugly looking piece of work. When it came back to Halifax of course there was no Pierreville marking on it, but had the P for Pemfab on its vent grilles and the Pemfab sing on each sie of the cab.
At about the same time Halifax ordered a 30 meter aerial from Thibault. It came with the Pemfab 95 cab (also ugly) but carrying a bit more finish work.
So at one time HFD had two vehicles with Pemfab 95 cabs - one a rebuilt Pierreville and one a Thibault. Confused?
Well the pictures should be clear enough.
1. The Pierrevile logo was front and centre, and there was extensive pinstriping and gold leaf.

2. On delivery to Halifax, the first Pierreville also had the Pemfab logo on the door post. It disappeared soon after. 3. Following repairs at Pemfab it lost the Pierreville name, and had Pemfab in two locations on each side, one on the grille and one under the crew window.

4. The Pemfab 93 cab was a winner.

5. As front line engines on the peninsula they would be at every fire. (Halliday's Kempt Road, just down the street from station 7.)

6. Their low profile and well positioned lights made then look good.

7. The Pemfab 95 cab was not an improvement. It's interestiung that the top mount wipers were later moved to bottom mount.

8. The rebuilt unit was assigned to various stations in its later years as new apparatus was delivered.

9. The Pemfabs 93s remained in front line for a good many years, and were repainted at least once, losing all the gold leaf and pinstriping in the process, but gaining the reflective stripe.

10. There was a certain amount of sheet metal distortion over the years, but these rigs were worked hard. 11. The rebuilt unit made it through amalgamation and joined the HRM Fire & Emergency where it finally had its acquisition number applied, but at first lost its station assignment number.

12. This one had been somewhere else to receive a white over red paint scheme before it came back into HRM Fire & Emergency. It now sports its assignment number. I believe this is the unit that has gone to the NS Fire Fighting School.

13. At the Halifax Club fire in 1987 the rebuilt Pierreville works ahead of the Thibault aerial.

14. The brand new Thibault 30m aerial at its first fire, shares the Pemfab 95 cab, but has some nice gold leaf and pinstriping and big Thibault sign to spruce it up.

These were not the only Pierreville, Thibaults or even Pemfabs in the Halifax Fire Department, but they were only ones with Pemfab 93 and Pemfab 95 cabs. It was difficult to keep track of the three Pemfab 93s because they kept changing station assignment numbers on the doors. It was not until amalgamation that the new HMR F&E began to display acquisition numbers. By then (1996) new apparatus was on the way and they were supplanted in front line service and sold off.



  1. i believe one of these was also at station 8 in spryfield the one that was repaired. the one that is pictured here as eng 4 was either ex eng 3 or 7 can't remember which .

  2. HFD actually had two of their Pemfab Wedges involved in MVAs (one with a civilian fatality) and both were rebuilt to the 'ugly 'cab style in Rancocas New Jersey . An article in the Chronicle Herald of the time discussed the inordinate time it took for repairs to be completed and how the Fire Department was running old engines, on their last legs, as replacements. Super Pics !!!

  3. OK that might explain the two different windshiled wiper locations -its actually two different vehicles.
    Yes the rebuilds took forever according to the papers, but it takes that long to get a new one, but more expensive!

  4. I'm Alex, I collact Pemfab Fire trucks and yet I can't seem to find out the last year they were built, I know they went out of Bussiness in 1998 but when was the last truck put out????????????

  5. Appears at least one lives on in the fire service...