Thread: Firebird

  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    56

    Default Firebird

    Does anyone know if Calavar is still around?

  2. #2
    Dispatch Dweller
    Jay911's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Location
    On the way to the station. Really. It's 12 kilometers away and there's traffic.
    Posts
    339

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PeteySt1
    Does anyone know if Calavar is still around?
    Calgary's truck is long gone, replaced by a 4 axle Bronto HLA. There's a thread on firepics.net about various places that have/had Firebirds, but I don't know if any are still turning wheels out there. (Calgary's frequently screwed up the rear axles trying to turn corners downtown, IIRC.)
    --jay.

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jan 1999
    Location
    Halifax,Nova Scotia,Canada
    Posts
    13

    Default

    Follow this link to see what is left of Calavar, they no longer make fire apparatus.
    http://www.timemfg.com/

  4. #4
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    96

    Default Calavar

    The Calavar "Firebird" was built by a company in Los Angeles that made I think 3 models of telescopic/articulating platforms for the utility (power) markets that I think were 75, 125 and 150 ft. They weren't very good as they used cables to extend/retract the booms and were a constant source of problems.
    They were installed on Hendrickson custom canopy cab chassis's and to my knowledge never had a pump.

    The following FD's had them in North America:

    Philadephia 125 ft. (First one I think?)
    Vancouver 125 ft. (two)
    Atlanta 125 or 150 ft. (Had ropes to rappell down from when it wouldn't lower.
    Montreal 150 ft. (Failed when turntable bearing separated) They bought a Bronto 50M 170 ft.
    Calgary 125 ft. (Had an outrigger weld fail and it leaned over againest a building with people in the platform) Repalced with a Bronto 50M 170 ft.
    Sacramento 125 ft.?
    And I think Anchorage? There was also a FD somewhere who bought 2 or 3 of them from other FD's because someone in that FD thought they were the best thing since sliced bread...NOT

    Overall the concept was good compared to the ATO Snorkel 2 boom articulating but it wasn't very successful and they went back to selling to the Utility and making self propelled work platforms.

  5. #5
    Dispatch Dweller
    Jay911's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Location
    On the way to the station. Really. It's 12 kilometers away and there's traffic.
    Posts
    339

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by aerialguy1
    Calgary 125 ft. (Had an outrigger weld fail and it leaned over againest a building with people in the platform) Repalced with a Bronto 50M 170 ft.
    Actually Calgary's truck was a 150 ft beast and the main problem was that the rearmost axle would frequently tear itself apart as they tried to navigate the short sharp corners of downtown, where the rig was stationed.

    The replacement is a Bronto 167ft HLA on a 4 axle chassis (2 drives, 2 steering).
    --jay.

  6. #6
    Forum Member
    DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!
    Posts
    13,584

    Default

    New Bedford, Masasachusetts also had one of the 150 foot Firebirds... in slime yellow!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  7. #7
    Forum Member
    FWDbuff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Pee-Ayy!
    Posts
    7,411

    Default

    Philly's ran as Ladder Company 2, located in Olde City at 4th & Arch Streets with Engine 8. My god dad was a Lt. at Engine 8 when L2 had the Calavar, and he would tell stories of it never being in service in the winter- Philly's methods and tactics back in the day called for elevating platforms at multiple alarm fires, usually ending up in long-duration fireground details....read: hours of being in the bucket in the cold, wet & icy winter weather pouring water on collapsed buildings. But magically, the firebird always went out of service in early November, and would stay out until March or April- something about parts being hard to find, etc etc etc........The members of L2 would just smile as they moved equipment over to a reserve tiller........

    Then there was the fact that you had to put down the jacks to get the ground ladders........
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

  8. #8
    Forum Member
    Box2565's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Edgewood, Kentucky
    Posts
    723

    Default

    You can find photos of Calavar Firebird's and a delivery list on the Youngstown Fire Message Board. Any additions to the delivery list would be appreciated.

    Calavar Firebird Topic - Youngstown Fire Message Board

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    1

    Default

    Calavar is long gone, Firebirds built in L.A.

    Calgarys 150 Firebird, although plagued early in it's career by a number of problems, it actually gave very good service from about 1990, right up to it's retirement in 1998, in favour of the new Bronto 50M HLA.

    The Calgary Firebirds "rear axle" problems, as mentioned, was usually inexperienced drivers, "pinning" on the throttle from a "dead stop", while going up the 8 st hill from the light @ 10th Ave.
    The 8V92 would then snap the rear driveshaft U-Joint trying to move the 89,000 lb behemoth.

    The rear walking beam bushings, would also wear out prematurely from the turns downtown.


    Fought alot of fires from Calgarys Firebird 150.
    NO complaints from me, served me well, but VERY cold up there in a Calgary winter spraying water @ -30.

    I Actually was the last guy to drive it for disposal/pickup @ Training.
    I heard when the new owner was loading it on Trailer, fell off and busted fuel tank.
    Went to Missisauga Ontario to be used for elevator cleaning ?
    Not sure.

    Any Firebirds still around ? Survivors ? or know where they are ?

  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    So of Can. / N. of Mexico
    Posts
    869

    Cool Calavar

    Miami had a 125' or 150' machine. I was visiting on vacation when they got a call to take it out of service because of the Calgary accident.

    They said something about driving it into Biscane Bay because it was out of service most of the time.

    They said it had around 8,000 lbs. of ballest weight behind the rear axle to get enough weight off the front axle to make it legal. Also something about the Hendrickson chassis warranty ended when it was driven out the Calavar factory door!

  11. #11
    Dispatch Dweller
    Jay911's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Location
    On the way to the station. Really. It's 12 kilometers away and there's traffic.
    Posts
    339

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirtlump View Post
    The 8V92 would then snap the rear driveshaft U-Joint trying to move the 89,000 lb behemoth.
    The above is a very amusing number for me (the weight) because of a new truck I just saw.

    Cochrane (a town just northwest of Calgary) just purchased a Spartan/Rosenbauer/Metz "T-Rex" aerial platform, brand new, first of its kind in North America. (Chassis #2 is going to Chestermere, just east of Calgary, and chassis #3 is going to some place in Colorado, IIRC.) Anyway, the GVW of the Cochrane truck is somewhere in the neighborhood of 85,000 lbs. And this is a 102 foot articulating platform made from modern lightweight components.. compared to the iron and steel of the Hendrickson Calavar.

    Dirtlump - I don't know of any surviving Firebirds, but my department (Redwood Meadows, just SW of Calgary) took one of the old Hendrickson Super Pumpers - the one with the Squrt. We've been using it as our second due pumper for 10 years now.. still cert'ed last year at 1250gpm.
    --jay.

  12. #12
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    198

    Smile

    Crawfordsville,Indiana was had one for year's they now have a 2003 pierce.

  13. #13

    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    1

    Default

    Hello, we purchased one of the Vancouver B.C. fire dept. Firebird 125's. It is still in service as an aerial platform. It is used primarily by the film industry as a lighting platform. We call it the "MOONRAKER". We had to turn it into a trailer because of the axle loading restrictions in B.C. I guess the F.D. has immunity from these laws. Anyways, I am looking for the aluminum water knuckle joint from the articulating section. It is the piece that allows a water tight connection between the lower and upper booms. Someone stole it, probably got 5 bucks as scrap. If you know of one, please email me at moonrakerequipment@hotmail.com Thanks. Also, if you would like pictures please email as well.

  14. #14

    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    1

    Default Firebird 150 Montreal

    I was involved in an effort to sell the above machine in about 1990. At that time it was owned by Panavision Canada, and had been slightly modified to support the big 70mm movie camera with operator to give inimitable camera angles and moves for special effects of the day. Using some fine photos furnished by the owner I put together a big brochure and offered the unit to many potentially interested parties. No joy...I heard later somebody tried to set up the rig incorrectly and broke the boom. Scrapped.

    During the promotion period I also visited the 150 in Miami in its spot in the maintenance building. It was only slightly visible since it filled the entire bay within inches of all surfaces. The chief engineer and I had a good discussion of its good and bad points. The biggest problem the department had with it besides telescoping water tube joint maintenance was just that by the time the big aerial arrived at a site, streets were too crowded with spectators and earlier fire units for the Firebird to approach the structure. The chief also related an anecdote about their Firebird operations. He said one day when nothing else was available, EMTs piled in and they rolled the huge aerial for a little old lady with chest pains.

    I still have one copy of the folder plus lots of supporting documents and original photos. I would be happy to forward all to a REALLY serious Firebird enthusiast. I was pleased to have had some time working with these monsters. 954-732-1917 portable.

    One correction of an earlier post...MFD said the weight was 66,000lbs. Original specs say 64,000.

    John Kessler
    Ft. Lauderdale

  15. #15
    Forum Member
    Jonnee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    1,256

    Default

    A good site firepics.net has some great info, all locations and photos of them.

  16. #16
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    60

    Default

    New Bedford's Firebird was actually a 125', not a 150'. I have a cousin who spent some time on Ladder 1 when they had it and he said it was the single most unreliable piece he ever encountered in his 30+ year run with the NBFD and if anyone knows anything about that department, apparatus replacement and maintenance was a foreign concept from the 1960's until the late 90's. See the site below for some pictures of New Bedford's Firebird(plus the two trucks that most often subbed for it).

    http://www.newbedfordfirefighters.com/History.htm

  17. #17
    Forum Member
    CaptOldTimer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    7,256

    Exclamation

    Quote Originally Posted by jkftl1 View Post
    I was involved in an effort to sell the above machine in about 1990. At that time it was owned by Panavision Canada, and had been slightly modified to support the big 70mm movie camera with operator to give inimitable camera angles and moves for special effects of the day. Using some fine photos furnished by the owner I put together a big brochure and offered the unit to many potentially interested parties. No joy...I heard later somebody tried to set up the rig incorrectly and broke the boom. Scrapped.

    During the promotion period I also visited the 150 in Miami in its spot in the maintenance building. It was only slightly visible since it filled the entire bay within inches of all surfaces. The chief engineer and I had a good discussion of its good and bad points. The biggest problem the department had with it besides telescoping water tube joint maintenance was just that by the time the big aerial arrived at a site, streets were too crowded with spectators and earlier fire units for the Firebird to approach the structure. The chief also related an anecdote about their Firebird operations. He said one day when nothing else was available, EMTs piled in and they rolled the huge aerial for a little old lady with chest pains.

    I still have one copy of the folder plus lots of supporting documents and original photos. I would be happy to forward all to a REALLY serious Firebird enthusiast. I was pleased to have had some time working with these monsters. 954-732-1917 portable.

    One correction of an earlier post...MFD said the weight was 66,000lbs. Original specs say 64,000.

    John Kessler
    Ft. Lauderdale


    John,

    I sure would love to have that information. Having had one here, a 100footer here, I would be happy to have all information and photos that you may have.

    Drop me a PM and we can chat about it.

    John
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. World Of Fire Report: 07-11-05
    By PaulBrown in forum World of Fire Daily Report
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 07-13-2005, 10:34 PM
  2. World Of Fire Report: 02-19-05
    By PaulBrown in forum World of Fire Daily Report
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 02-22-2005, 10:23 PM
  3. City of Bridgeport IABFF BASH FDNY ABOUT FELON FIREFIGHTERS
    By bfdladder5 in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 08-06-2004, 02:01 PM
  4. Bridgeport IABPFF info
    By bfdladder5 in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 08-03-2004, 04:08 PM
  5. World Of Fire Report: 03-07-04
    By PaulBrown in forum World of Fire Daily Report
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 03-09-2004, 06:40 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register