03/08/14 126 W, 2 I - + 6 - 4 Did Raleigh Have Ford Model C Fire Apparatus?

Answer is yes,  a pair of Ford C service trucks, on a 1963 (left) and 1980 (right) chassis. The ladder rack was from a 1922 (!) American LaFrance combination service truck. The chassis was replaced after a May 31, 1979, accident, after a collision at Raleigh Boulevard and Milburnie Road  while Truck 7 and Engine 7 were answering a fire alarm. Photo credits News & Observer (black and white) and Jeff Harkey (color). Click to enlarge:

Fire apparatus using Ford C chassis were popular throughout North Carolina. Presumably due to the more economical cost versus custom fire apparatus? Some of the big city departments including Charlotte, Durham, and Greensboro. Who else? Click to enlarge: 

Lee Wilson/eBay photos

The Ford C-8000 was a hugely popular cab and chassis for sure. Various manufacturers made the rear canopy and was an affordable way to get the FF’s off the tailboard. It worked until NFPA 1901 required that all FF’s be seated in an enclosed cab. I remember in 1990-91 when the standard was being changed. There was a huge run on these. The CAT 3208 diesel engine and Allison automatic transmission made this unit a solid workhorse that everyone could drive. Those units would now be nearing 25 years of age and probably only have a few more years of realistic service life.
D.Cates - 03/08/14 - 10:07

I saw many C series cabs built by EOne for Boston Fire travel I-95 North from Ocala. They offered a short wheelbase Boston liked due to narrow streets. I understand Ford eliminated this Series as a move to get competitive with other manufacturers who were building disposable chassis types that were primarily being used for beer and softdrink bodies and box vans. We purchased a GMC chassis in 88 with a FMC body. Lighter frame rails, springs and fiberglass nose. Not what the fire service needed but could get as an affordable truck. Very few vocational trucks are easily adapted to meet NFPA standards today perhaps International, Kenworth and Freightliner are the closest to offoring factory options to meet NFPA. You would think the Fire Apparatus industry would be a market the commercial truck builders would love to have but it is just a speck on the vocational truck market. Good stuff Mike!
Thomas Dicks (Email) - 03/09/14 - 13:18

Beaufort County has seen the use of this chassis heavily since fire departments started to spring up around the county. Bunyan VFD (my first dept.) retired E7310 (‘78-ish FMC, 500gal/1000gpm) five years or so ago. It was replaced by a Pierce Enforcer. City of Washington had at least two, and may still have one as a reserve. There are still many in service in that county.

WWFR had one (T198) until 2006(?) when we received our new T198. Those were good, tough trucks and very versatile.
Duda (Email) - 03/10/14 - 10:41

The better question would be who did not ever run a Ford C!! Those rigs served many towns and communities in NC and many still serve the various VFDs here as 2nd out or reserve trucks.
BFD1151 - 03/11/14 - 22:09

Yes, the easier question is “who did not run the Ford C’s?”. Around Wake County, I think Durham Highway, Garner, and maybe Stony Hill never used the Ford C’s. As has been mentioned, Boston ran quite a few, as did Washington DC and Chicago. Some of the DC apparatus, as well as others in that area, used a regular cab and had a separate ‘crew module’ mounted behind the cab. Anne Arundel County (MD) also had one or more of those. Salt Lake City had a tiller unit with a Ford C cab that had a ‘sleeper cab’ extension (I’ve seen the picture of that one in one of Walt McCall’s books. Oren, Howe, and John Bean built a number of quints using the Ford C, usually with a 55’ or 65’ mid mount ladder. Seagrave even built a 100’ rear mount aerial on the Ford C during the 1980s (believe Atlantic Beach had one of those).
Ford C series - 03/12/14 - 12:46

Ford C series - 03/12/14 - 12:47

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