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Rural Department Buys First New Apparatus in 63 Years

Issue 3 and Volume 15.

Hillsdale’s Contender by Pierce has seating for six and a 
top-mount pump panel.

The Hillsdale (Mich.) Rural Fire Department has purchased a Pierce Contender custom pumper – its first new fire apparatus in 63 years – with the help of a FEMA grant.

 “The truck we needed to replace was a pre-owned 1969 vintage pumper with an open back cab,” said Hillsdale Chief Jimmie Van Dusen. “We applied for FEMA grants three years in a row, and I guess the third time was the charm.” 

He said department officials considered other brands before making the purchase, but the Pierce pumper best fit their needs, “especially the seating for six and the top-mount pump panel design.”   

The Contender was engineered to meet the wide-ranging demands of rural Hillsdale County. The vehicle features a 189-inch wheelbase, a gross vehicle weight rating of 40,000 pounds, a 370-hp engine, a six-speed automatic transmission and a raised roof cab for six firefighters. The firefighting systems include a 1250-gpm. single-stage pump with stainless steel plumbing, a 19-inch extended front bumper with hose tray, a 1,000-gallon poly water tank with a lifetime warranty, and a hosebed capacity of 1,500 feet (for 2.5-inch hose) and 400 feet (for 1.5-inch hose). 

The Hillsdale Rural Fire Department is comprised of one station and 15 volunteer firefighters. The area is home to Hillsdale College, plus numerous industrial, commercial and residential developments. 

Halt Fire of Wixom, Mich., the Pierce dealer responsible for the sale, serves all lower Michigan and eastern portions of the Upper Peninsula. 

Pierce Manufacturing is an Oshkosh corporation and manufacturer of custom fire apparatus. For information, go to

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