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Oren, also known as Roanoke Welding & Equipment Company, Oren Fire Apparatus Company and Oren Roanoke Corporation, was an American fire apparatus manufacturer located in Roanoke and Vinton, Virginia.

History[]

In 1917, Oren D. Lemon opened an auto repair and welding shop in Roanoke. The business was named Roanoke Welding & Equipment Company in 1927, and by the 1930s, was turning out commercial truck bodies, including fire apparatus. The fire apparatus side of the business increased and was the company's chief product by the 1940s. Custom chassis (Available and Corbitt, and Duplex after Corbitt's 1954 demise) were offered after the Second World War. Oren proclaimed itself "The South's Only Fire Truck Manufacturer" in its advertising.

The business flourished. A distributor in New Jersey, New Jersey Fire Equipment Corp. single-handedly accounted for half of Oren's sales. New Jersey Fire Equipment sold the Oren trucks under the Great Eastern brand name and some trucks had Great Eastern nameplates affixed to them alongside Oren's.

In 1961, Oren was purchased by the Howe Fire Apparatus Company. Oren continued to operate as a separate entity, moving into a new plant in Vinton in 1962. Aerial apparatus was offered using aerial devices built by Grove and LTI. Duplex was a favoured custom chassis option.

In 1976, Oren and Howe were purchased by Grumman, creating its new Emergency Products Division. The Howe plant was closed and production consolidated in the Vinton plant, which is now located in the City of Roanoke. The Oren name gradually disappeared. Grumman shut down its fire apparatus division in 1992, and the plant is currently used by KME for aerial truck production.

See also[]

Departments operating Oren apparatus

Sources[]

  • McCall, Walter M.P. Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Fire Engine Manufacturers. Hudson, WI: Iconografix, 2009.
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