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AMERICAN Cast Iron Pump Company: Hall of Fame Quality Engineering


Have you ever wondered where those ubiquitous fire hydrants on city streets come from?

Many are manufactured by a company called American Cast Iron Pipe Company, also known as ACIPCO, and by its subsidiary company, Waterous.

ACIPCO was founded in 1905 in Birmingham, Alabama, where it continues to be the city’s largest private-sector employer. The founder was a devout Christian, John Eaghan, who believed pipes were the solution to delivering clean water to millions of people. Eaghan also was a leader in introducing shorter work weeks, overtime pay, health insurance, retirement benefits, and onsite medical care.

Today, there are 1,600 workers in Birmingham, and about 1,000 more at other plants in the U.S. and Brazil. The Birmingham plant is the world’s largest ductile-iron pipe producing plant, and has been inducted into the Alabama Hall of Fame. ACIPCO was the first North American maker of ductile pipes to achieve ISO 9000 certification for product quality.

Meanwhile, by acquiring other well-established fluid-control manufacturers, ACIPCO now has a broad product line and several production centers.

Many of the fire hydrants and valves are made in Beaumont, Texas. There is a castings plant in Oklahoma, a pipe plant in South Carolina, a rubber products facility also in Alabama, and the Waterous Company plant in Minnesota. Now an ACIPCO subsidiary, Waterous was relocated to St. Paul in 1886 and made the first-gas-engine driven fire pump. Today, Waterous makes vehicle-mounted and portable fire pumps, foam systems, water hydrants, and valves.