Saulsbury Fire Rescue - 1948-2004 - Preble, New York


PREBLE, N.Y. When Lori Meyer first walked through the doors of the Saulsbury Fire Rescue plant nearly 15 years ago, she thought she would never need to look for work again.

"I really thought this was where I was going to retire," she said.

Instead, the 41-year-old Meyer will start 2005 unemployed.

"My plan," she said, "is to hopefully get a job soon, and, I guess, get on with life."

She's not alone.

After nearly a half-century, Saulsbury, the fire and rescue apparatus manufacturer, closed its door for good Thursday. Though not unexpected its owner E-One announced back on June 30 the company would shut the central New York facility the plant's closure eliminated 205 jobs.

The layoffs started in September. By the time the plant's last day rolled around, 40 workers remained.

"The hard part was watching the people disappear," 26-year-old engineer Ron Furner told the Cortland Standard. "Every fifth or 15th day of the month, less and less people that you've worked with were here."

The decision by the Ocala, Fla.-based E-One to shutter the Preble facility 21 miles south of Syracuse, was to consolidate operations and eliminate the fixed costs associated with having plants in two states, company officials said. In all, the company has four plants in Ocala, two in Finland, two in Holland and one in Alberta, Canada.

Though 75 percent of the Preble employees were offered relocation packages, E-One general manager Bill Carroll said it soon became clear the majority of workers, with their ties to Central New York, were not going to move. In fact, just 13 employees elected to relocate.

"My husband owns a dairy farm, so (relocation) was something that I didn't consider," Meyer said.

Saulsbury was formed in 1948 by Fancher L. "Sam" Saulsbury, who also served as Preble's fire chief for a decade beginning in 1954.

It wasn't long before orders from surrounding fire departments began to roll in, and in 1972, ground was broke for a 40,000 square-foot manufacturing plant in Tully. But by the 1980s, the company had outgrown that facility and moved into an 85,000 square-foot plant in Preble.

At its peak, Saulsbury employed some 300 people and sold emergency vehicles to countries around the globe.

In 1998, the company, which had remained in Saulsbury's family after his death in 1978, was sold to E-One's parent, Federal Signal Corp., for roughly $19 million.

"When you are working face to face with fabricators you learn a lot," said Furner, who worked at the plant for five years, including a brief stint in Ocala. "Corporate office doesn't see that. Down south everything is just more impersonal This place has the best fabricators I've ever seen in my life."

"I enjoyed the people I worked with," added Meyer. "It felt like one big family."



    For more information please read:

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Bill Hass - History of the American Water Towers

Hans Halberstadt - The American Fire Engine

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T.A. Jacobs - A History of Fire Engines

Matthew Lee - A Pictorial History of the Fire Engine

M.W. Goodman MD - Inventing the American Fire Engine: An Illustrated History of Fire Engine Patents

Consumer's Guide - The Complete Book of Fire Engines: A colorful Review of Today's Fire Apparatus

Sheila Buff - Fire Engines in North America

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Neil Wallington - World Encyclopedia of Fire Engines: an illustrated guide to fire trucks around the world

Keith Ryan & Neil Wallington - The Illustrated History of Fire Engines

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Ron Jeffers - The apparatus of the Jersey City Fire Department: Yesterday and today

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Philip R. Lincoln - Massachusetts fire apparatus: A pictorial Collection

Charles Madderom - Los Angeles City Fire Apparatus: 1953 Through 1999 Photo Archive

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Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

George W. Green - Special-Use Vehicles: An Illustrated History of Unconventional Cars and Trucks

William T. King - History of the American Steam Fire-Engine

John M. Peckham - Fighting fire with fire: A pictorial volume of steam fire-fighting apparatus

Ed Hass - The Dean of Steam Fire Engine Builders

Richard J. Gergel - American Fire Apparatus Co.: 1922-1993 Photo Archive

Richard J. Gergel - Imperial Fire Apparatus: 1969 Through 1976 Photo Archive

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Joel L. Gebet - Saulsbury Fire Rescue Apparatus : 1956-2003 Photo Archive

Scott Mattson - Tasc Fire Apparatus: 1946 Through 1985 Photo Archive

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