01/14/10 134 W, 2 I - + 14 - 11 Who Built Old Truck 11?

That's a question from a reader, who's wondering who built the city's 1971 Chevrolet service truck. Same served as Truck 11 from circa 1972 to 1986, and Truck 15 from 1986 to 1988. Then the truck was placed in reserve, and parked at the Keeter Training Center. Chassis by Chevy, but who built the body? The shop? Someone else? The answer appears to be Alexander Welding and Manufacturing Company, a Raleigh company that also built the two tankers on GMC chassis in 1960. They also appear to have built the city's 1964 GMC service truck. The third service truck, a 1963 Ford later rebuilt as a 1980 Ford, was shop-built. The ladder rack was from the first service truck, a 1922 American LaFrance. Next step, update the above pages with this new information. Signed, Your Historian.

Jeff Harkey, Lee Wilson photos

Not certain if there is a connection but it appears there could be a link to EEI which manufactured fire apparatus in Raleigh from 1983 until their close in 1999. News & Observer articles covering the sudden closure of the manufacturer reference the owner as Louis Alexander. Additionally it adds “In biographical information he provided The News & Observer during his 1989 council campaign, Alexander said he started EEI in 1983 with his brother, Ed. The company, which had about a dozen employees, added hoses and other fire equipment to truck beds that were manufactured elsewhere. It then sold the finished trucks to fire departments.”

I had heard that EEI evolved from Atlas Fire Apparatus but I can’t verify that. Mike, maybe you can connect the dots. I can certainly envision a case where maybe these two guys were relatives (children/nephews?) of the Alexander Welding & Manufacturing folks. They made some decent trucks for a while before they got in financial trouble and left several departments in a bad way. I have copies of articles in word documents if anyone wants further details.
D.Cates - 01/14/10 - 10:33

I am curious as to how these trucks were dispatched. Were they sent in the know known “first alarm” or “box alarm”? Or were they dispatched similar to RFD Air 1 in a declared “working fire” type situation? How many service/specialty trucks served around the same era? I’m sure the later question could be found by doing some research in the history section of this website, but was looking for a “quick response” from off the top of someone’s head. It is nice to see where we all came from and the equipment developments of the present.
rookie - 01/14/10 - 12:44

Raleigh had a service truck on the roster since 1922, and an aerial ladder since 1916. The same company staffed both. I believe the service truck was dispatched instead of the aerial ladder, unless the fire was reported in the high-value district of/around Fayetteville Street. Both trucks might have been dispatched in that case, or perhaps just the aerial ladder. Need to research/learn about that.

Both ladder trucks were housed at Station 1 until the early 1940s, when they were both moved to Station 2. That was a result of Station 1 being relocated to a smaller building. When a permanent Station 6 opened in 1949, the service ladder truck was moved there, and became Truck 6. This gave the city two dedicated ladder companies. Staffing was probably five people.

By the mid 1960s, the number of ladder trucks had doubled. Two aerials, two service trucks. The aerials were at Stations 1 and 5. The service trucks were at Stations 6 and 7. I believe the service trucks were dispatched by default on first alarm assignments, along with one or two engines. Exceptions were again, I believe, the high-value district downtown, and perhaps other high-risk areas or properties.

The third service ladder was added in 1972 at Station 11. The third aerial ladder was added in 1981 at Station 16. Then the totals reversed in the middle of the decade, with four aerials and two service ladders. Then four and one. Then five and one. Then five and none. The last service ladder was retired in 1990, if memory serves.

The service trucks each had a Captain position until 1976. Those nine positions were eliminated as part of 60 jobs cut during another tough economic time. They might have been three-person companies by that time, cut down to two. Older-timers can advise on that.

The firefighters rode the sideboard, though I think the cabs could seat three, if they scrunched together.

Like the aerial ladders, the service trucks were moved around a bit. Truck 8, Truck 15, and Truck 16 each started as a service truck, and were replaced by aerial ladders. Truck 12 ended as a service truck.
Legeros - 01/14/10 - 18:42

The service trucks were dispatched as ladder trucks in their first dues. I grew up in SE Raleigh, and I remember several house fires over the years. We got ENGINE 3, ENGINE 7, and TRUCK 7. Occasionally, an extra engine at stations 3 that was not fully staffed would also show up. THis was before Station 12 was built. I had a couple of friends who lived out around North Hills, and TRUCK 6 was the unit that ran first in on house fires out that was during the 70s.

At Enloe High School, we had two fires at the school during the 70s- one a fire in the wood shop that was contained prior to RFD arrival, the other was a fire in the auto shop that heavily damaged the building. That response was ENGINE 7 (Mack CF), TRUCK 7 (Ford service), ENGINE 3 (Mack CF), and RESCUE 1 (Chevrolet/Murphy). ENGINE 12 (ALF 700) arrived later.

David, EEI evolved from Atlas Equipment, which for years was on New Hope Church Road at the railroad tracks. Atlas built a number of fire trucks, including tankers and pumpers, several of which were in Wake County (including Yrac and Fairgrounds). Alexander Welding was out on what was then North Boulevard. The only trucks I ever remember them building were the the two Raleigh tankers, DHFD Unit 3 (a tanker), and a couple of others, all with elliptical style tanks that resembled fuel oil trucks.
DJ - 01/14/10 - 21:29

Were house fire responses ever single engine plus ladder? Maybe in earlier or really early decades. More likely, it was probably two engines and no truck on houses, e.g., non-commercial structures. Memo to self. Research “run cards” for all decades, and look for the pattern of responses.
Legeros - 01/15/10 - 07:44

Thanks for that bit of info Dale we we’ve been having a sideline discussion on any connection between the two as Mike has another reader who is doing research on EEI. The corporate documents for Atlas list a D.O. Alexander as the registered agent so we were curious if there was some sort of connection. If you know any old timers in the area Jon or even Mike might want to try to contact them. BTW, Parkwood also had an Atlas Tanker. That unit later served Mariah FD in Person Co. Not sure about the others, but it was a wet side tanker, meaning that the outside wall was the tank, quite different than todays tankers (even the elipticals which have a fancy shiny outer shell that is insulated).
D.Cates - 01/15/10 - 09:33

DJ’s comment on the other thread, citing Cary’s service truck as built by Alexander, confirms that they built service trucks in addition to tankers, which is further supporting evidence that they built Raleigh’s trucks.
And - 01/15/10 - 10:09

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