Monday, November 18, 2013

American LaFrance from the shoebox

By way of contrast to modern looking fire apparatus here's a dip into the oldies shoebox from the northern Maine community of Caribou.

The classic American LaFrance 'bathtub" is probably the image many of us have in mind as the definitive firetruck. If you will pardon my saying - all fire trucks look alike these days, but certainly a LaFrance was identifiable from miles away!
One nice little department of the 1980s was Caribou, Maine, with an "all LaFrance" lineup. I happened to stumble across it on a day when they were swamping out the floors of the truck bays, and so had four rigs out on the apron. I am showing the Kodachrome slides, full frame:

1. The newest was this pumper with an extended roof canopy, but otherwise open to the weather. Those Maine firemen must have been tough.

2. Number 2 was an older model which seemed to have a back wall on the cab.

3. This monster conventional wore number 3. It probably had a Packard V-12 gasoline engine.

4. Number 4 was the oldest of the bathtub types in the hall.

5. Rounding out the roster on that day, was Number 8, a LaFrance tanker/pumper on a Chev 80 commercial chassis.

6. Old number 3 had the usual pump panel ahead of the firewall.

7. What can I add?

I now regret that I didn't copy any information on the trucks, so I would welcome any more details.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Toronto Trip - Part 2

Very close to the location of my meetings in Toronto was station 332. Part of the Toronto Fire Service's South Command and very close to the financial district,  it is an extraordinarily busy station.

1. Even with six drive through bays, it is not unheard of to have all apparatus out on calls, with backups on the way. To add to the interest, it faces Adelaide Street, which is one way east.
On my way to work one morning, a small fire had broken out in a sidewalk grating in front of a high rise on Richmond Street, at the corner of University. The response was impressive, with apparatus arriving from three directions. Richmond is one way westbound at that point, so apparatus from station 332 had to go east then north then west to reach the scene.
2. A district chief arrived in a standard TFS Ford van.
3. First on scene was Rescue 325, followed by Pumper 332, a 2002 Spartan Advantage-Smeal.
4. R325 got to work right away. It is a 2013 Spartan-Crimson Fire, just delivered in October.
4. High Rise 332 was not far behind. it is a 2005 Spartan Metro Star-Dependable, and is the only high rise unit in the department.
5. Squad 331 arrived via a side street, and an aerial rig hovered nearby which I did not see. S331 is a 2012 Spartan Gladiator-Dependable.
Checking out Station 332 at lunch time I was treated to these:
6. Command 30 (one of three in the department) uses a 2012 Freightliner MT55 -EVI Dependable.
7. Tower 331 is a 2005 E-One Cyclone with a 114 ft Bronto Skylift aerial.
8. Mechanical Response Unit MRU 20 runs this GMC 850  built by Seagrave.
The next day at lunch time I checked in again and found:
9. Another aerial, this one A312, a 2004 Spartan Gladiator - Smeal with 105 ft aerial.

10. And more district chief vans.
The Toronto Fire Service is Canada's largest, and fifth largest in North America. There are numerous references on the web, including an impressive unofficial photo gallery:

Toronto trip - Part 1

A very quick business trip to the big smoke allowed for a few minutes of truck watching while going to and fro between meetings, meals and hotel. Most of what I saw was construction related (except for Part 2 which will follow in due course) and therefore pretty ordinary. Not so ordinary was this impressive Mack Titan running for Roni Excavating.

Chromed everything, including a back of cab roll bar/light frame, the truck was pulling a J.C.Trailers float, which loaded a digger arm while I was at lunch and the driver was just tying it down on my way back. Why aren't there more of these on the road!