APPLETON (WAOW)--"You don't think about where fire trucks come from you just hope that they show up at your door and put out the fire," Brad White told Newsline 9. White has been working for Pierce Manufacturing for the last 15 years. Pierce is the largest producer of fire trucks in North America.
The company was founded in Appleton in 1913 and today, Pierce has the capacity to pump out eight custom trucks a day. "It is a passion. You are building something that is going to save lives," said White.
Designing, building and customizing these vehicles is an art form. From assembly of the cab to hand-painted gold lettering infused with real gold flakes, each truck is a masterpiece. And White said it's only right that so much care goes into each and every vehicle. "It's where they live. They live in these cabs day in and day out for hours on hours."
If you live in north central Wisconsin, you will soon see a new Pierce creation rolling down the streets of Wausau. The Wausau Fire Department recently purchased a new aerial device, set to be finished at the end of this year.
"It aids not only the residents of our community to have that truck designed for the specific needs in our community, but it helps our firefighters do a much better job," said Battalion Chief Doug Buela. The Fire Department's other Pierce truck has been in service for more than 25 years and he said it's time for an upgrade.
A federal grant helped pay for the new truck. The price tag: more than $900,000 dollars. "It's always a struggle to budget money for such a large purchase and emergency service equipment is not getting any cheaper, but when you need it, you really need it," said Buela.
Pierce employees are hard at work building the truck that will feature a 100-foot aerial platform and state-of-the-art chassis. The options for a Pierce fire truck are endless. Trucks can be built to do all sorts of jobs and can come in a rainbow of colors--including 150 variations on fire engine red.
"They are always different, so you don't see the same thing every day," said employee John Schultz who has been working at Pierce in Appleton for 36 years.
Pierce employees said it can take up to six months to design a new truck, but half that time to build. The company employees more than 1,700 people in the Fox Valley.
Online Reporter: Bonnie Shelton