Waterjet to the Rescue
Alexis Fire Equipment
Firefighters are used to handling emergencies, but it just so happens that waterjets are equally capable of managing a crisis. That's what the folks at Alexis Fire Equipment recently discovered when their 80160 JetMachining® Center played a key role in salvaging an aerial fire truck that was nearly destroyed during a wall cave-in. Alexis Vice President Mike Shull recounts the incident:
"One of our vehicles responded to a fire in Galesburg, Illinois," he explains. "In order to get access to water, the fire fighters parked the truck close to the building and during the fire, one whole wall of the building caved in. Fire engulfed the custom-made aerial truck, incinerating everything on the driver's side. The warning lights, the console, all the plastic components were melted -- it was that hot."
Once the vehicle was returned to the plant in Alexis, Illinois, Shull's team quickly went to work using the OMAX 80160 to recreate many of the parts that had been destroyed. "It took us about three months because of the testing that had to be done," says Shull," particularly on the aerial device, given the amount of heat it took."
Since 1947, Alexis has specialized in building custom emergency equipment for fire departments including such apparatus as pumpers, rescues, tankers, aerial rigs, as well as some unique specialty vehicles such as ATV incident response units, dive team vehicles and command centers. Initially established as a small family business, the company now delivers approximately seventy-five vehicles annually to fire departments throughout the Mid-West.
According to Shull, the 80160 has been central to Alexis's manufacturing process since its purchase a few years ago, and it is used to build a wide range of emergency vehicle components. "We use it to make just about all the body."
Prior to buying the OMAX, Alexis was machining components for their vehicles with a CNC plasma cutter and as a result, they fought a constant battle against heat distortion. From rigging the CNC with homemade water misters to cutting many parts with a heat sink, Alexis tried several stop gap measures that they knew they couldn"t rely upon indefinitely.
In 2003, they attended a trade show in Chicago's McCormack Center to look at other machines. They were very interested in OMAX, and contacted Tristate [an OMAX distributor] before purchasing. "We sent materials up to the facility and watched them cut a fire truck out for us." Pleased with the results of the test cut and impressed with the lack of heat affected zones, Shull decided to purchase the 80160. "After we got the 80160 we realized how much better it could be." Setting up the OMAX and getting his operators trained on it was a breeze, he says. "We purchased the machine on Friday and we were cutting parts by Monday."
Alexis Fire Equipment
President: Mike Shull
Location: Alexis, IL
Specializes in: Custom Fire Equipment