THE BUILDING OF FIRE APPARATUS
Some Reasons Why it is on the Increase.
It is not remarkable that considerable signs of progress in the building of fire apparatus and the production of fire-extinguishing appliances are visible on every side, when existing conditions are taken into account. The rapid changes that take place in a comparatively short time in communities throughout the length and breadth of this great land are so pronounced that wonder ceases as the cause for such production at once becomes apparent. Take, for instance, the small hamlet of today that becomes a village tomorrow, soon develops into the importance of a town, and finally blooms into a full fledged and prosperous city. So it is that fire-extinguishing methods must grow apace, thus causing a constant demand for fire equipment suitable to the requirements of each place as it increases in population and commercial importance. The immigration to this country alone, every year, is about 1,000,000 peonle, which, added to the natural increase of population, makes nearly 2,000,000 more inhabitants for whom fire protection has to be provided. Where once a bucket brigade, a few extinguishers or a small engine would be considered adequate, such equipment soon becomes almost useless with the growth of the place so provided, with the inevitable result that more effective fire-fighting facilities must be provided to keen pace with its progress. These facts become more apparent when the industry of building fire apparatus is considered. Look at the new Elmira plant, where every conceivable fire appliance and piece of apparatus, from the smallest extinguisher to the largest steamer or water tower, is built to suit all places and to meet the demands of all communities that need fire protection. The concentration of the small plants of the Amcrican-La France Fire Engine company at Elmira has created a gigantic factory for the production of fire apparatus, under the direction of skilled mechanics who have graduated in the business, so that the most perfect and modern fire-fighting stock is guaranteed. The plant covers many acres of ground on the site of the old La France works. At first glance it would seem almost incredible that such a large establishment could find a market for the products turned out by its different departments. In the fire engine shops alone, which cover an immense space, may be seen a large number of steamers in various stages of construction. It is unnecessary to give details of the Metropolitan engine here, as it is well known to everyone interested in fire protection and the fire service throughout the whole world. It may. however, be mentioned that all of the materials used in the engine are produced .at the works in Elmira, so that an absolute guarantee of its construction is always assured. In the great plant each branch of the business forms a separate department in itself. Fire extinguishers, chemical engines, chemical hose and chemical hook and ladder combination wagons, city and aerial trucks, fire engines, water towers, trussed ladders and the latest improved patented fire appliances give some idea of these large and varied industries. Each one of them is conducted under the direction of a superintendent and men especially selected for the experience and skill theypossess in the construction of the machines in their charge. Such is a brief outline of the largest establishment of this kind in the world. To appreciate its extent and the variety of its products an inspection of the works would be necessary. The management of the La France Eire Engine company is in the hands of two men who are thoroughly conversant with the business in all of its details—namely, J. R. Clarke, president, and C. J. Cross, general sales manager; the latter being ably assisted by A. E. Rhodes, who is in charge of sales of smaller supplies. In carrying out the details of this great industry, a large staff of representatives are employed, located at principal points throughout the country. Portraits and short biographies of these gentlemen were printed in a recent issue of this journal. The company, of course, takes great pride in the Metropolitan engine, which has been so improved that it ranks as a most perfect and remarkably effective fire-fighting machine. Next to the engine. the American automatic aerial truck takes second place. In describing this fine specimen of fire apparatus, the company says:
“The development of the aerial truck has been gradually extending over a period of some thirty or forty years, through the Hayes, Babcock. Dederick, Kaiser, Pneumatic, American and American-LaFrance. For several years we have met the demand for a quick raising truck with the American-LaFrance aerial, employing a train of gears, assisted by expanding coil springs. In further perfecting this device, it has been made practically automatic, the power of the spring; performing the work of elevating the ladder and retaining it in position ; the train of gears being used to govern the ladder and to lower it. The elevation of the ladder is further checked to prevent all vibration and slamming by a simple air cylinder which automatically produces an air cushion as the ladder rises. The general details of construction of the truck illustrate to the minutest detail, the result of much experience in truck building—the large ball-bearing turntable; the platforms from which the ladder may be operated without descending to the ground and without removing the horses; the friction hand brake; the removable rods between arches: the upset ends of truss rods, retaining the full diameter and strength of material at the turnbuckles; the low nesting of the ladders; the non-reversible steering gear, eliminating the uncertain tiller-lock, and numerous similar features of construction illustrating the most careful attention to detail.”
Most of these improvements are new and have brought the truck to the highest point of excellence. As showing with what favor it is held among fire department officials, may be mentioned the fact that over twenty-four of them have been instaied in a very short time, and there are always a considerable number under construction at the shops. The illustration herewith shows the truck with all of its recent improvements. In addition to these two important pieces of fire apparatus, the company, as stated before, constructs all classes of modern firefighting rolling stock which are used in fire departments everywhere. An interesting brochure descriptive of these products has been issued by the company and may be had on application.