Special Delivery: Three Manufacturers Coordinate To Build Swedesburg Pumper

Swedesburg's Squirt 49 puts its Snozzle to work while supplying water for three portable Task Force Tips Blitzfire monitors as it joins other apparatus at a three-alarm fire in a commercial building. (Fire Apparatus Photo by Brian Feeney)
Swedesburg's Squirt 49 puts its Snozzle to work while supplying water for three portable Task Force Tips Blitzfire monitors as it joins other apparatus at a three-alarm fire in a commercial building. (Fire Apparatus Photo by Brian Feeney)
Swedesburg Volunteer Fire Co.'s new pumper was built by Precision Fire Apparatus on a Sutphen Corp. chassis with a Crash Rescue 50-foot articulating and telescoping Snozzle. (Fire Apparatus Photo by Dennis C. Sharpe)
Swedesburg Volunteer Fire Co.'s new pumper was built by Precision Fire Apparatus on a Sutphen Corp. chassis with a Crash Rescue 50-foot articulating and telescoping Snozzle. (Fire Apparatus Photo by Dennis C. Sharpe)

Upper Merion Township is a 17-square-mile area of Pennsylvania chock-full of commercial and industrial sites, but also heavily populated with residential and business areas bordered by narrow streets often cluttered with vehicles parked on both sides.

Swedesburg Volunteer Fire Company, one of three volunteer departments covering the township, was next in line to purchase a new fire truck under the township's 15-year replacement rule for apparatus.

The fire company settled on a pumper built by Precision Fire Apparatus on a Sutphen Corp. chassis and carrying a Crash Rescue 50-foot articulating and telescoping Snozzle. The pumper, which was sized to fit into a challenging station, proved its worth less than a month after being put into service.

The process that led to the purchase involved a lot of people and coordination among the manufacturers. Fire Chief Gerry Dolga put together an eight-member truck committee and gave them the task of determining what type of apparatus would best serve the district's needs.

Assistant Chief Jeff Houseal, who was on the committee, said there were many considerations. "The township has a lot of tight streets, three major trash transfer stations, four large junkyards, an asphalt factory, a Lockheed Martin factory and a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility," he said. "We also have the King of Prussia Plaza, the second largest mall in the United States."

Three major roads go through the township, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Schuylkill Expressway and Route 422, as well as major railways.

The committee quickly decided that the fire company would need a multi-function rig, encompassing pumping, tank capacity, compartment space and elevated waterway elements. Specs were drawn up and sent to a number of manufacturers.

Mick Arnold of Arnold Fire Equipment in Honey Brook, Pa., the Sutphen dealer for four Pennsylvania counties, recalled working closely with the committee.

"They talked to Pierce Manufacturing, KME Fire Apparatus and E-ONE and got presentations from them," Arnold said, "but they chose the Precision-Sutphen-Snozzle unit as being the truck that would do everything they wanted it to do."

Important factors in the decision, he said, were the narrow, old-style streets in the area and the truck sizing issue due Once the details were worked out, the manufacturers put together a schedule to marry all the parts.

"Trapper, Bob [Young of Crash Rescue] and I sat with the committee at a preconstruction meeting in their firehouse because we wanted to understand exactly what the customer wanted," Rider said. "They had a steep angle of approach going into the fire station and also had length issues in the firehouse, so we had to work out all the particulars."

To handle the steep angle of approach, Rider said Sutphen put a custom bumper on the rig that extends only six inches. Two tow eyes protrude through the bumper.

"The overall length of the apparatus was a body building issue and Precision handled that," Rider said.

Meador said the firehouse's rear wall had rubber loading dock pads affixed to it because the existing fire truck fit so tightly in the bay.

"One of the things we did was sink in panels on the back of the truck to hold the Blitzfire monitors and lessen the overall length," he said. "We got the length down to 32 feet, which is a shorter footprint than their previous apparatus."

Young of Crash Rescue in Dallas, Texas, said members of the Swedesburg truck committee had talked with him and examined a Snozzle at the 2009 Fire Department Instructor's Conference trade show in Indianapolis, Ind.

"They checked out our demo unit there, which was a 65-footer, and found it was pretty much what they were looking for, except that they wanted a 50-foot unit," Young said. "When they went out for bid, we put in a quote and got the job."

Young noted the committee liked the idea of being able to bring a truck to a call and use minimum manpower to extinguish the fire.

"After they got the truck, they had a fire where they arrived with the truck, extended the Snozzle and put the fire out in about 90 seconds with their 1,250-gpm waterway," Young said. "The truck has an extremely quick setup, and within 30 seconds you can be flowing water from the tank."

The apparatus uses two angled A-frame style stabilizers, center mounted, that extend 18 inches on each side.

Assistant Chief Houseal said one of the features he likes best about the apparatus is that the Snozzle's monitor can be operated from a distance or from under cover by wireless remote control. That way, he said, he is able to keep firefighters out of the elements.

Another valuable feature is the thermal imaging camera on the tip of the boom, he said.

"There's a 14-inch monitor in the operator's compartment that enables the operator to find hidden fire in a collapsed structure and to wet down any hidden hot spots," he said. "We also can use the thermal imaging camera during search and rescue and for water rescue operations in searching for victims."

The truck, designated Squirt 49, also has a TFT 6-inch electronic intake valve with a 5-inch Storz coupling that is operated from the pump panel.

Houseal said that when Squirt 49 was in service only a month, it responded to a fire in a house that was 75 percent involved. Within two minutes of the truck arriving on the scene, he said the fire was knocked down using the Snozzle and only 750 gallons of water.

Six weeks later, Squirt 49 operated for more than six hours at a 3-alarm warehouse fire, flowing in excess of 2,000 gpm being fed by one 5-inch and one 3-inch supply line. The truck provided water for the waterway and three portable Task Force Tips Blitzfire monitors fed by 2-1/2-inch lines.

"The truck flowed over 750,000 gallons of water at that fire," Houseal said.


Swedesburg Volunteer Fire Co.
Upper Merion Township, Pa.
Strength: 55 volunteer firefighters; one station; providing residential and commercial fire suppression and emergency response to vehicle accidents and water rescues.
Service area: Covers a population of 28,000 on approximately 17 square miles of residential, industrial and commercial structures, including three major trash transfer stations, four large junkyards, a major asphalt factory; township crisscrossed by railways and three major highways.
Other apparatus: 1996 KME Renegade pumper, 1,500-gpm pump, 750-gallon tank; 2004 HME/Horton special service vehicle containing two Will-Burt Night Scan light towers and body and portable lighting; 1991 Chevrolet/Utilimaster water rescue unit with three boats; 2009 Freightliner custom fire police vehicle; 2004 Ford Expedition command vehicle.


Precision-Sutphen-Snozzle Pumper

  • Sutphen Monarch chassis and cab
  • Bostrom seating for six
  • Heavy-duty extruded aluminum body with isolated steel sub-frame
  • Overall length, 32 feet
  • Wheelbase, 211 inches
  • Cummins ISL 425-hp engine
  • Hale Qmax 2,000-gpm pump
  • UPF poly 750-gallon tank
  • Crash Rescue model P-50 Snozzle, 50-foot articulating and telescoping aerial with thermal imaging camera
  • All stainless-steel plumbing
  • Akron valves
  • Task Force Tips Blitzfire monitors
  • R-O-M painted roll-up compartment doors
  • Whelen LED warning light package
  • Class 1 multiplexed electrical system

Price: $542,900

 

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