ANDERSON'S ENGINEERING (1972-2000) HISTORY
In 1946, Duncan Anderson founded a machine shop in Langley, BC. Son Duncan Anderson Jr. was appointed president in 1970 and the company incorporated as Anderson's Engineering in 1972. The younger Anderson was a volunteer firefighter in Langley Township and in 1970, he fabricated a tanker body for the municipality. A few years later, the company successfully tendered to build another truck for Langley Township, this time a pumper-tanker. Further orders followed, and the business grew as Anderson's delivered pumpers, tankers, minis, rescues and a few aerial devices to fire departments throughout British Columbia. In the early 80s, orders began to come in from further afield. The company delivered four Mack pumpers to Seattle, Washington in 1981, plus others for departments in Washington State.
In 1986, Anderson's became the distributor for Finland's Bronto Skylift line of elevating platforms. Several Anderson/Brontos were built for fire departments across Canada and in the Pacific Rim in the late 80s and early 90s, until Bronto was purchased by E-One in 1995. During this time, the company expanded its sales of pumpers and other rigs to departments across Canada. Anderson's also built four aerial trucks for Montréal using Seagrave ladders. This is believed to be the only non-Seagrave use of Seagrave aerials ever recorded, King-Seagrave notwithstanding. After Bronto's purchase by E-One, Anderson's sought partnerships with other aerial manufacturers and formed an association with Smeal in the mid-90s. A number of Smeal-aerial equipped Anderson units were delivered.
After experiencing severe financial difficulties during the latter part of the nineties, Anderson's was forced into bankruptcy in late 2000.
Overall, Anderson's built nearly 400 trucks. Many of their major customers were in British Columbia (Langley Twp., Surrey, Vancouver), but they also sold over two dozen trucks to Montréal, no mean feat in a province with so many apparatus manufacturers of its own. Montréal was an enthusiastic user of the Bronto. The City received ten Brontos in 1989 and 1990 (including a massive 170 foot platform on a four-axle Pacific chassis), plus several pumps and aerials. Some of these trucks remained in service well into the 2010s. Anderson's also sold quite a few rigs to Ontario departments, plus a few in the Maritimes and Prairie provinces. Other trucks were sold to resource companies for use in Indonesia, Chile, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Brontos also ended up in Guam and Saipan. Although Anderson's didn't rank as one of Canada's largest fire apparatus manufacturers, they had an impressive impact throughout Canada and around the world.
Anderson's serial numbers followed two different systems. Before 1992, serial numbers consisted of a serial number code, followed by the pump size and a sequential number. The code consists of the following elements:
M = Municipal
Q also appears in Bronto serial numbers. The exact definition isn't known.
For instance, in the serial number MS-1050-8, the M refers to a truck delivered to a municipality (in this case, Langley Township, BC), the S to a single stage pumper and the "8" to the fact that this was Anderson's eighth rig.
In some cases, the sequential numbers are repeated (e.g. there was a MS-1050-10 pumper and CMR-10 rescue) and in a few, no known serial numbers were assigned. For the most part though, Anderson's provided a system of serial numbers that allowed their trucks to be easily tracked.
In 1992, a more comprehensive system was put in place. The newer 17-digit number provides a great deal of information about the truck. Indeed, it would be possible to know a lot about a truck just by seeing the serial number. Using number 91031IHME91002350 (a Freightliner 1050 pumper delivered to Montréal) as an example, the system breaks down like this:
A=Ford conventional, B=GM conventional, C=International Conventional, D=Ford cabover, E=Volvo cabover, F=White Xpeditor, G=Mack, H=Peterbilt, I=Freightliner, J=Duplex, K=Spartan / American LaFrance, L=Pemfab, M=Western Star
A=2 door, B=canopy cab, C=enclosed crew cab, D=enclosed crew cab with raised roof, E=custom split cab, F=custom Eurospace cab, G=custom command cab, H=command cab, I=miscellaneous
Pump panel location
M=transverse, N=driver's side, O=no pump, P=misc.
Water tank size
A=100, B=200, C=300, D=400, E=500, F=600, G=700, H=800, I=900, J=1000, K=1100, L=1200, M=1300, N=1400, O=1500, P=misc., Y=no water tank
Year of manufacture
Anderson's production number
This system was used until Anderson's ceased operations.
A WORD ON SOURCES
Thanks to diligent work by BC fire buffs Bob Dubbert, Dan Goyer and Terry Yip, almost all of the trucks built by Anderson's are listed here. Only a few rigs built near the end are missing.
Dubbert, Bob, Shane MacKichan and Joel Gebet. Encyclopedia of Canadian Fire Apparatus. Hudson, WI: Iconografix, 2004.