The facade is familiar yet out of place: a classic brick fire station with those iconic red doors, just off I-12 in rural Livingston Parish. Behind it, though, isn’t a standard fire station, but a sprawling 110,000-square-foot facility where around 450 employees manufacture top-of-the-line tankers, platforms and other vehicles for fire departments from San Francisco to New York City.
Founder Chris Ferrara came up with the idea in the 1970s when he was a volunteer firefighter in Central. To help save money, he and the other firefighters built a new tanker truck themselves, sourcing the parts wherever they could find them. In doing so, he also found a niche.
Ferrara started his fledgling company first as a distributor of firefighting equipment and parts. But by the late 1980s, the business had grown to its massive current location, building entire fleets of vehicles for municipal departments, as well as vehicles designed to handle industrial fires or even off-road missions to extinguish wildfires.