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Chambersburg company making fire trucks

September 19, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - FireCab Inc., a longtime Chambersburg business, promises to become a major player in the manufacture of fire trucks now that it has been bought by Chambersburg Engineering.

FireCab will roll out its first truck, a bright yellow, 1,250-gallon-per-minute pumper, in ceremonies at the Derbyshire Street plant at 10 a.m. The chief of Friendship Hose Co. in Falls Creek, Pa., will drive the truck home, said Robert W. Hunt. Hunt is president and chief executive officer of FireCab and vice president and chief operating officer of Chambersburg Engineering.

He was hired a year ago to bring Chambersburg Engineering out of the economic doldrums caused by a failing market for its forging hammer business. His job is to diversify the company. The first step was to create CECO/Taylor to make fire trucks under the FireCab brand.

Chambersburg Engineering bought the assets of FireCab at 201 W. Sunset Blvd. in February and moved them to a vacant 45,000-square-foot building at Chambersburg Engineering. The building has been converted to a gigantic fire truck assembly line.

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Last month CECO/Taylor bought a New Jersey company that makes fire truck chassis and will move that operation to Chambersburg.

"We will be able to make the entire truck, not just the bodies," Hunt said. His company buys engines, transmissions and other components, he said.

The company has a backlog of $6 million worth of orders, including 21 airport crash trucks for the Venezuelan air force, Hunt said.

FireCab also refurbishes fire trucks and restores antiques, Hunt said. "We will be among the top 10 companies making fire trucks," he said.

At this time last year, Chambersburg Engineering employed 54 workers. The purchase of FireCab added 21 more from that plant and 20 more will be hired, Hunt said.

"We've doubled employment since last year," he said.

Chambersburg Engineering continues to make forging hammers, said company President Samuel C. Clarke. The company has been operating at the same address for 101 years. It closed its foundry in 1993.

"We're constantly looking for other acquisitions," Hunt said. "We have another building with 30,000 square feet to fill."

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