Elmira, the Fire Equipment Capital of the World

ELMIRA, N.Y. -- Around 20,000 fire hydrants come out of Elmira every year. It's an operation more than 100 years in the making, but before any fire hydrants go out, scrap metal comes in.

"We melt it down in three furnaces," Kennedy Valve Assistant GM Jack McPike said. 

From there, the metal goes into sand molds and made into castings.

"We transform them into something we can powder coat and assemble other components into both valves and fire hydrants," McPike said. 

After a pressure test, the hydrants are ready to leave the factory and go anywhere the world may need them. 

"We have our own workers and family members that go places and send pictures to us of a fire hydrant they saw in Hawaii or as far away as India or something, that might end up over there, so it's pretty neat to see something like that," McPike said. 

Kennedy Valve first came to Elmira in 1907, and they're still making hydrants today, but years ago, Elmira also had another role in fighting fires across the country.

"Elmira was the fire engine capital of the world," Horseheads Fire Chief Arthur Sullivan said. "In fact, there was two fire engine companies here. There was American LaFrance and Ward LaFrance."

Those two companies combined to build more fire trucks in Elmira than anywhere in the country, a major benefit to local firefighters. 

"We saw all the new designs here before other people of the world, the United States did," Sullivan said. "We actually went down and tested their equipment, see how it operated through the fire departments throughout the Southern Tier."

American LaFrance and its fire trucks left Elmira in 1985, but Kennedy Valve and the hydrants remains as a cornerstone of the community. 

"We've been doing this for 108 years now, and we have a lot of years left to go," McPike said.