PIERREVILLE FIRE TRUCKS (1968-1985) HISTORY
As noted in the Thibault history, Pierreville Fire Trucks (Camions Incendie Pierreville) was created due to a dispute among members of the Thibault family. In 1968, five of Pierre Thibault's nine sons (René, Julien, Marion, Charles-Étienne and Yvon) disagreed with the decision to sell Pierre Thibault Canada Ltee to outside interests and struck out on their own. The company was initially named Thibault Fire Trucks, but this was changed to Pierreville Fire Trucks for the town where the Pierre Thibault plant was located. A modern 21,000 square foot manufacturing facility was quickly built in nearby Saint-François-du-Lac. René was appointed president, Marion became VP of Marketing and Sales, Yvon was responsible for sales in Québec and Charles-Étienne & Julien oversaw the production and engineering. In 1974, Julien's shares were purchased by the other brothers.
The business flourished and quickly became one of the largest fire apparatus manufacturers in Canada. The company originally started with the manufacture of pumpers and tankers, but soon moved on to aerial devices. Their first aerial truck was delivered in 1972 and a few years later, they entered into an agreement to be the Canadian distributor for LTI (Ladder Towers Incorporated). In the latter part of the decade, the company developed its own line of "Telescop" booms. Pierreville gained the sole rights to distribute Waterous pumps in Canada and used them on all of their pump-equipped rigs.
In 1979, their father's old company declared bankruptcy and René was sent to purchase the assets and bring it back into the family. However, René actually bought the company for himself and restarted it as Camions Pierre Thibault Inc. Both he and his sons were quickly removed from the corporation at Pierreville. This led to the unusual situation of competing brothers running Canada's two largest fire truck manufacturers in the same small town. Not surprisingly, this led to a great deal of bitterness in the family.
By 1980, Pierreville was the largest fire truck manufacturer in Canada in terms of units sold. Operating from a 132,000 square foot plant (there had been several expansions over the years), Pierreville employed some 150 skilled tradespeople and boasted $8 million in sales in 1984. While the company used Waterous pumps, it manufactured its own aerial ladders and telescoping booms. It sold trucks across the country and began an aggressive expansion into the American market in the early eighties. In Canada, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton were all major customers. South of the border, an aerial truck was delivered to San Diego, a number of pumpers were built for cities in the Chicago area and there were orders on hand for San Francisco and Detroit when business ceased. Pierreville also built six aerial trucks for the U.S. Navy. Four aerial ladder assemblies were also supplied to Fulton & Wylie in the UK for mounting on British chassis. All served the Strathclyde Fire Brigade in Scotland until 1992.
Despite all of this, the recession of the early 80s and bidding wars with competitors forced Pierreville to declare bankruptcy in 1985. Pierre Thibault assumed most of the company's assets and hired some of the employees. Yvon and Marion, along with their sons Michel and Jean, formed Camions Incendie Phoenix in 1985 - the logo of this company was quite similar to the Pierreville logo. Phoenix assumed a few of Pierreville's orders and built fire trucks for a number of municipalities, mainly in Eastern Canada, until its demise in 1992.
Pierreville serial numbers consist of a sequential number following the company's initials (PFT for Pierreville Fire Trucks). For example, "PFT-955" would appear to be truck number 955 truck built by the company. However, material unearthed in company archives indicate that numbers were also assigned to bids that were not accepted and therefore trucks never built. Consequently, the actual truck numbers may not be in sequence. For the first few years, the "PFT" was actually "CIPL," which probably stands for Camions Incendie Pierreville Limitée. By the time Pierreville ceased operations, the sequential numbers were somewhere in the high 1300s.
Any additional information on Pierreville serial number systems and how they work would be greatly appreciated.
Like Thibault, these depend heavily on observation - trucks recorded individually when seen and when the opportunity arises. Many of the later trucks (PFT-1000 and up) were gathered from the Archives at the Canada Science & Technology Museum in Ottawa. There are many Pierreville trucks (particularly older ones) that are unlisted because serial number information is unavailable.
Baird, Donal. A Canadian History of Fire Engines. St. Catharines, Ontario: Vanwell Publishing, 2001.
Dubbert, Bob, Shane MacKichan and Joel Gebet. Encyclopedia of Canadian Fire Apparatus. Hudson, WI: Iconografix, 2004.
Assorted archival material, family history and newspaper articles