Escape to Chimp Eden

Escape to Chimp Eden
Courtesy Animal Planet/Discovery Comm,

Monday, September 21, 2009

"And Here Is Tonight's Headline..."

I first joined a volunteer fire department in 1977 when living in the greater Greensboro NC area. It was the Guilford College Fire Department and the chief was Chief Bobby T. Wilson. There were two subjects that Chief Wilson was a true expert on, the use of foam and chemical fire suppressant (Purple-K) and how to spec out a new piece of fire apparatus.

During the 3 1/2 years I was with the department, I was asked to provide my input on two pieces of apparatus. And the brand name that the chief insisted on was Pierce Manufacturing. Could we have purchased an "off-the-shelf" vehicle for less money? Sure we could. But it would not have had the time, quality, and manufacturing pride that a Pierce gives you. Simply put, if you want a run-of-the-mill piece of fire-apparatus, go buy the cheaper model. If you want the "Cadillac" of fire equipment, then Pierce is the one to turn to.

Today, I had the pleasure of visiting one of the Pierce Manufacturing plants in Appleton WI. My host was Chet. Chet is one of those people at Pierce that wears many hats. When an order comes in, he examines it and hands-off copies to the proper departments. He helps coordinate the client's wishes with the manufacturing process to assure that 6-11 months later, that customer is 100% satisfied with the delivery of the fire apparatus.
I'll be posting all the quick photos I took over on my personal blog ( but the most important aspect of my visit is not found in any of the pictures that I took. As we walked around the plant, Chet was showing me how the professional trucks are put together, from the basic frame to the finished product, ready for delivery. Every vehicle has a set of blueprints with all the details and the name of the ordering customer. In addition, on the front windshield, there is a simple piece of paper also with the customer name and the order number. In the latter part of our tour, as we passed several trucks that were not quite ready for delivery, I looked up to the windshield of one and saw that the customer was a gas/oil company located in South Africa! I did a double take and asked Chet, "Do you really manufacture and ship apparatus to South Africa?" "Sure," he replied. "We sell them all over the world, including China."
Now throughout the past ninety minutes I had been thinking about when and where would my opening come to bring up our cause to Chet. Where, in the tour of this massive manufacturing facility, would I have the chance to say, "Oh and by the way...." In the European language called Yiddish (a mixture of Hebrew, English, German, and French), we might have said that that moment was "bashert," or "fated." The main reason I am in Appleton is to lead High Holiday services to celebrate the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement. During this period, we entreat the Lord above to forgive our sins of the past year and promise us a healthy and happy new year and to grant our important requests. One might say that He just may have been listening to me. For this display on this engine that it was being shipped to South Africa provided me with the perfect opening to bring up the matter with Chet.
He listened attentively and acknowledged that on tomorrow's visit, he will hopefully have the contact information we will need to approach the marketing and public relations department with our request. I could not have asked for more.
And that goes for the tour as well. Chet didn't spare any space or any details. Well, there was one, the R&D area (Research & Development) and I could certainly understand why. Yet even without seeing that room, it was easy to see why Pierce was and is the leader in custom fire apparatus. The innovations that have been made in the last thirty-two years involving apparatus handling and safety, firefighting ability, storage and accessibility, water flow management and so much more, are all that an old-time snot-nosed, belly-crawling, nozzle-jockey like me, could ever ask for.
As we walked down "Innovation Alley" towards the end of our tour, I look at each feature and quickly flashed back to a memory of an incident that I had faced and how this innovation would have affected or helped my fellow firefighters and me. Almost any one of them might have changed the way we responded, the ride to or from a call, or any of several other factors, "back in the day." And, I learned that Pierce has opened a plant in Bradenton FL.
Was that it? Am I upset and disappointed that all I may get out of this is a contact name to contact for our cause to help Chimp Eden? Absolutely not! Thanks to my wonderful local contact Jeff, who set-up the tours and to Chet, my personal Pierce "tour-guide," I was able to bring explain our cause to a very responsible member of the Pierce team and will look forward to whatever information he will provide. After that, it will be a "full-court" press, to responsibly and respectfully present our cause to the right people at the right time.
So what else is there? Tomorrow or Wednesday, Chet will be taking me over to the second site, where the aerials, rescue trucks, and ARFF's (Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting) apparatus are all fabricated. What comes after that? The satisfaction that after these thirty or so years, I finally made it to the ultimate "candy store."
'Til Next Time...

1 comment:

Theresa said...

Great news, Steve! Please thank Chet on behalf of the supporters of Chimp Eden for his help. Will hold thumbs and say prayers that your efforts are awarded. Thanks again for all your hard work!

Pierce Brush Truck

Pierce Brush Truck
Pierce Brush Truck