Bobby Price Shines a Light on a Real American Hero

Bobby PriceNo, we’re not talking about the 80s cartoon soldier. Here, Bobby Price discusses his decommissioned 1984 American LaFrance Triple Combination Fire Pumper.

ZRYLW: We appreciate you being here today.

Bobby Price: I’m happy to share with your readers.

ZRYLW: We understand that you own an old New York firetruck. How did that come in your possession?

Bobby Price: Back in 2006, I attended an auction at the Cars of Dreams Museum. The fire pumper – an American LaFrance Triple Combination – had just been delivered. Notably, the truck was driven the entire way.

ZRYLW: Why was it decommissioned?

Bobby Price: The truck was over 20 years old at the time. And, despite having served faithfully, Engine Company 2 of the Commack Fire Department made the decision that it was time for an upgrade.

ZRYLW: Can you tell us about American LaFrance?

Bobby Price: American LaFrance was an American fire apparatus manufacturer from 1873 until 2014.

ZRYLW: They built fire trucks? 

Bobby Price Bobby Price: Not only fire trucks; they started out selling hand powered equipment. The founders Truckson LaFrance and Alexander Diven both had extensive experience in the industry and had been involved in companies that built steam powered fire engines.

ZRYLW: The company was based in South Carolina, correct?

Bobby Price: It was, however, its original corporate offices and manufacturing operations were located in New York.

ZRYLW: Did the company have any foreign operations?

Bobby Price: It was American owned and operated but had a plant in Ontario Canada that functioned under the name LaFrance-Foamite until 1971.

ZRYLW: What other kinds of vehicles did the company manufacture?

Bobby Price: American LaFrance focused specifically on firefighting equipment. It built combination pumpers, chemical engines, and aerial ladder trucks. In addition, American LaFrance provided specialty equipment including airport crash response vehicles.

ZRYLW: Why did the company go under?
Bobby Price: The company filed for bankruptcy in 2008 citing implementation problems with its new enterprise resource planning software.ZRYLW: But they continued through 2014?

Bobby Price: After six months, the company emerged from bankruptcy and continued successfully until ceasing operations in 2014.

ZRYLW: What drove your decision to buy the fire engine?

Bobby Price: I’m something of an automotive history enthusiast and really felt like this truck symbolized the greatest manufacturing accomplishments in America.

ZRYLW: How’s that?

Bobby Price: Many collector vehicles simply earn recognition for their ability to go fast. This truck is different in that it was directly responsible for saving countless lives in its two decades in service.

ZRYLW: When you put it that way, it’s pretty remarkable.

Bobby PriceBobby Price: I think so. I know the firemen were sad to see it go.

ZRYLW: You mentioned that you purchased this from the Cars of Dreams Museum. Tell us about that…?

Bobby Price: The Cars of Dreams Museum is a showcase of classic vehicles located in Palm Beach County, Florida.

ZRYLW: And it holds auctions?

Bobby Price: Usually when it has an auction, it’s to raise funds for an important cause.

ZRYLW: Can you give us an example?

Bobby Price: The Cars of Dreams Museum holds classic car shows and auctions that benefit everything from the Hospice of Palm Beach County Foundation to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office Shop with a Cop program.

ZRYLW: Sounds like a great place to stop on a vacation!

Bobby Price: It definitely is…

Bobby Price is the owner of Nashville’s premier collision repair provider Price’s Collision Centers. He is an avid automobile collector who says cars have played a major role in his life since childhood.


5 Responses

02.23.16

I am so jealous, Bobby Price! I have always thought it would be the coolest thing ever to actually own a fire truck…I wasn’t even sure you could buy them. I think it’s great that you could save this piece of American History. If you ever want to sell it, please don’t leave it to Craigslist! I’d love to take that thing off your hands, Bobby Price.

02.23.16

I have seen this fire truck in Nashville! I had no idea that Bobby Price actually went all the way to Florida to get it. I assumed it was an old Metro rig he picked up at the surplus. Anyway, the history of these vehicles is really important to preserve, especially for the next generation. I think Bobby Price understands that. The last time I picked one of my cars up from Price’s Collision Centers, I noticed he had several antique/rare cars on display. Very classy to showcase them to the public instead of lock them in a garage somewhere.

02.23.16

I am wild about the black and white version of the picture of Bobby Price and the firetruck. I love the lighting composition and the way the photographer used the contrast of the tire tracks to balance the image. It feels like the tracks represent all the times that old pumper sped to the rescue. The color image is interesting, too. It looks like the sky starts in bright colors but fades to b&w at the bottom. If you read this, Bobby Price, please leave the name of your photog!

02.23.16

That truck is unreal and it looks like Bobby Price has taken remarkable care of it since driving it home from FL. It’s rare that collectors actually show off their cars/trucks unless it’s at a big and crowded event. What’s even more uncommon here is that Bobby Price seems to know the history of the truck AND the company that made it.

02.23.16

I’m really curious why American LaFrance went under. I am sure it is kind of a shame for folks like Bobby Price who own one of their trucks. How do you get new parts? Do you have an original manual that goes with it? It’s probably not a big deal for someone like Bobby Price who has ties to the industry and knows how to handle any issues that might come up, but for the average collector, that’s terrifying.