THE HISTORY OF IRON FIREMAN
In 1923 Thomas Harry Banfield and Cyrus Jury Parker took over an iron works in Portland, Oregon that was manufacturing a small coal stoker. The stoker didn’t work very well, so the men redesigned it and named it the Iron Fireman. It became a commercial success relatively quickly. Coal was an economical heat source, and the Iron Fireman filled a need for automatic control of residential coal fired systems. It could be fitted to an existing furnace or used as the workings of a new one. Parker became the president of the firm. In 1928 both men were involved in an air crash which claimed the life of Parker. Banfield recovered and succeeded him in company leadership.
By the time World War II broke out the firm had manufacturing facilities in Cleveland, Ohio and Toronto, Canada as well as the Portland facility. Their factories were pressed into war service making engines for Liberty ships, and they won the Maritime “M” award given to only about 3% of the manufacturers supporting the war’s maritime effort.
Following the war the company developed oil fired burners at their Cleveland facility, and consolidated the business to that location. The Whirlpower light commercial series (developed by Fred Runninger) and the A series atomizers (developed by Charlie Schrade) had their roots in that work. By 1960 Iron Fireman had a commanding presence in commercial power burner sales – reportedly about 60% of the US market. The coal stoker business was sold to the Will-Burt company. The oil burner business was bought by Space Comfort, a California firm, who relocated it to a new factory in Harrisonburg, Virginia, complete with palm trees in front of the building. The facility attracted the attention of the Garrett AiResearch division of Allied Signal, who was putting together an HVAC conglomerate to gain federal energy grants for the development of solar powered air conditioning. Garrett also purchased Dunham-Bush, a refrigeration and air conditioning firm, moved them into the factory with Iron Fireman and changed the focus of the business.
The 1980’s saw development of the EED burner (by Neil Rampley) and the Constant Flow fuel system (by Larry Gray) for meeting New York City’s stringent rules for firing rate limitation, where Iron Fireman had considerable sales success.
In 2000 Iron Fireman was acquired by Vapor Power, who moved operations to Franklin Park, Illinois, where they operated until production ceased in December 2011.
On Dec. 31st, 2011, the owners of Iron Fireman ceased burner production and sold all remaining assets for burners of the Iron Fireman business to OEM Boiler Parts Inc., of Elizabethtown, PA- including all engineering and sales records, parts inventory and production tooling.
OEM Boiler Parts is very pleased to have added the availability of the complete line of genuine original equipment (OEM) Iron Fireman replacement parts to its ongoing boiler parts business. In 2006, OEM Boiler Parts purchased the remaining assets of the Kewanee Boiler company, and today is pleased to offer genuine OEM parts for all Kewanee boilers, Kewanee burners, and Iron Fireman burners.
Even though both Kewanee and Iron Fireman are no longer in active production, the fine products produced by both these companies have useful lives which will stretch on for many years to come. Please contact OEM Boiler Parts for all your Kewanee and Iron Fireman replacement parts needs. If anyone tells you that Kewanee or Iron Fireman parts are hard to find- it’s because they haven’t called OEM Boiler Parts.
OEM Boiler Parts does not possess any information or records regarding “Residential” Iron Fireman products or “Coal Stokers”. We apologize for the inconvenience.