Apparatus

Special Delivery: Three Connecticut Volunteer Departments Buy Six Sutphens

Issue 4 and Volume 15.

Five of the six Sutphens purchased by the three volunteer fire departments were built on Sutphen's custom Monarch chassis. The sixth, a tanker, was built on a Freightliner chassis. (Photo by Maurene Rose)
Five of the six Sutphens purchased by the three volunteer fire departments were built on Sutphen’s custom Monarch chassis. The sixth, a tanker, was built on a Freightliner chassis. (Photo by Maurene Rose)

The town of Monroe, Conn., covers approximately 26 square miles and is serviced by three volunteer fire departments – Monroe, Stepney and Stevenson.

Each of those departments is partially funded by the town through grant money received from the state of Connecticut, but it’s never enough to cover all the operational expenses and capital equipment costs. So the departments subsidize those additional expenses through donations and a series of year-long fundraising events.

After the town developed a plan to replace fire apparatus for the three departments over a seven-year period, fire department officers became increasingly worried that their aging apparatus – much of it dating to the 1970s and 1980s – would not make it.

“While the town’s plan was for replacement of one piece of apparatus each year, we told them the trucks wouldn’t last that long,” said Monroe Assistant Chief Josh Krize. “We advised the town that our mechanical repair costs were going through the roof.”

In addition, Krize noted, between 1999 and 2008 the town planned each year to replace a fire truck for one of the departments, but never followed through on any of those purchases.

“Some of us did some research on fleet purchasing and suggested it to the committee responsible for purchases,” Krize said. “We did our homework and showed the town how it had the potential to work for all of us.”

He said a number of apparatus manufacturers met with each of the three department purchasing committees and made presentations about what they could do for the departments in terms of a fleet purchase and maintenance. Service was one of the biggest concerns of each department, he said, because it had been a major issue in the past.

“We wanted answers to things like who could meet our specifications for all three departments, what time frame they could do it in, the issue of maintenance after purchase, and any price breaks for the multiple vehicles,” Krize said. “When our questions were answered, we narrowed the choices down to Pierce, Sutphen and KME.”

After more presentations and visits to surrounding towns that operated apparatus made by the three companies, the committees chose Sutphen.

“The two top reasons we went with Sutphen were the loyalty to their customers and their quality service,” Krize said. “They’re a very down-home company and a family-run business. When we went to their plant, we saw that they treat their employees and customers like part of their family.”

Challenging

Krize and other committee members sat down with Dave Rider, Sutphen’s inside sales manager, and negotiated with him to produce six vehicles for the three departments – a rescue pumper and a pumper tanker for Monroe, a pumper and a quint for Stepney, and a pumper and a tanker for Stevenson.

“We figure that we saved the town $1.5 million by purchasing the six vehicles in a fleet purchase, instead of spreading them out over the seven years,” Krize noted. “When we presented it to the town, they liked it, sent it to a referendum vote and it passed with flying colors.”

Rider called the situation with the three departments “a little bit challenging,” but said, “These guys were easy to work with because they were fiscally responsible and knew how to follow the rules.”

Rider said he was aware the town of Monroe originally wanted to spread the purchases over a period of years, but he supported a fleet replacement plan and presented the town with a favorable budget after examining its equipment.

“There’s the economy of scale with fleet replacement,” he pointed out, “with the same engines, transmissions, axles, drive lines and basic body packages going into each of the apparatus. If I have six vehicles going down the line at our Columbus (Ohio) plant, one after another, it saves money for both the town and for us.”

He said some customization was possible on the fleet, with each piece being built separately.

“Each department wanted their trucks to have their own personality,” he said. “So one chose a little bit bigger cab, and there are some compartment and other differences. Most have LED light bars, but one has a halogen bar, and all three are painted different colors – black over red, silver over red, and white over red.”

The Apparatus

The Monroe Volunteer Fire Department received a Sutphen Monarch rescue pumper with a 1,750-gpm Hale QMAX pump and a 750-gallon tank, as well as a Sutphen Monarch pumper tanker with a Hale QMAX 1,750-gpm pump and a 1,500-gallon tank.

The Stepney Fire Department received a Sutphen Monarch pumper with an extended cab, a Hale QMAX 1,750-gpm pump and a 1,000-gallon tank, as well as a Sutphen Monarch SPH 100-foot mid-mount bucket quint with 6-person cab, a Hale QMAX 1,750-gpm pump and a 280-gallon tank.

The Stevenson Volunteer Fire Department received a Sutphen Monarch pumper with a Hale QMAX 1,750-gpm pump and 1,000-gallon tank, and a Freightliner-Sutphen tanker with a Hale Q-PAC 1,000-gpm single-stage pump and a 1,800-gallon tank.

16 Standard Bodies

Rider noted that no unusual challenges popped up during manufacturing because the pre-production process was so smoothly done.

“We presented models and ideas to them that were proven designs for us – we have 16 standard bodies to choose from – so we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “That allows us to build a truck a little less expensively than if we had to redesign all the components around a custom body.”

In addition, Rider said, the committee members from all three departments were responsible and easy to work with.

“They all understood the challenges we had in making six different vehicles that would meet and satisfy each of their needs,” he said. “It was a very pleasant process. Any apprehension that I had in working with three different departments at the same time went away when we had the first meeting in a firehouse kitchen when they determined what they wanted to do.”

Also, by keeping specifications fairly simple and relatively similar, he said the departments were able to get together and put six trucks on the manufacturing line at the same time.

“These fire department members should get a lot of credit for being smart enough to know that fleet replacement was the right idea for them,” he said.

Jim Lyons, sales manager for Five Star Fire in East Hartford, Conn., a division of Freightliner of Hartford, handles sales and service for Sutphen in Connecticut and western Massachusetts.

“Our involvement started in April 2008 when we became a dealer for Sutphen and they were in the middle of discussions with the town of Monroe on this deal,” he said. “They continued through the sales process for continuity, and then the commercial tanker item came up and Sutphen asked us to become involved in building the Stevenson tanker.”

On Top Of Specifics

Lyons accompanied Rider on all the preconstruction meetings so his firm would have a good first-hand knowledge of what the trucks entailed, especially from a maintenance standpoint because Five Star Fire would handle service for all six vehicles. Fire Star Fire also does all pre-delivery inspection of Sutphen vehicles in its coverage area.

Lyons had complimentary words for the three department committees involved in procuring the vehicles.

“Each committee had thoroughly decided what was important to them, had done their homework and were on top of what they wanted in order to meet the needs of their particular district,” he said. “At no time did I find they were unsure about any of the items for their vehicles. They were on top of all the specifics.”

Monroe’s Assistant Chief Krize agreed that preparation was a big component in the success of the six-vehicle purchase.

“When we signed the contract, each of us knew what each department was looking for,” he said. “We sat down with the engineers in Ohio for a prebuild conference and ironed out any final changes there, and then the building process began. Sutphen kept us updated and informed by email and photos during the entire process.”

Krize said it took about six months from contract signing to delivery of the six vehicles.

The Three Volunteer Departments

Monroe Volunteer Fire Dept.

  • Strength: 40 active volunteer firefighters operating out of two stations, providing fire and rescue coverage on approximately 600 calls annually, including structure and vehicle fires, vehicle extrication and hazardous materials.
  • Service area: Western part of 26-square-mile town of Monroe.
  • Other apparatus: 2004 Pierce Enforcer 75-foot quint straight stick, 1,500-gpm pump, 500-gallon tank; 1975 GMC Saulsbury 3,600-gallon tanker; 1995 HME 3D reserve pumper, 1,750-gpm pump, 750-gallon tank; 1976 American LaFrance parade piece (retired); 2005 Ford F350 utility truck.

Stepney Fire Dept.

  • Strength: 40 active volunteer firefighters operating out of two stations, providing fire and rescue coverage on approximately 500 calls annually, including structure and vehicle fires, vehicle extrication and hazardous materials.
  • Service area: Northwest, south and eastern part of 26-square-mile town of Monroe.
  • Other apparatus: 2000 Sutphen engine, 1,750-gpm pump, 1,000-gallon tank; 1994 Spartan heavy rescue; 1999 Quality on Spartan Avenger chassis pumper, 1,500-gpm pump, 750-gallon tank.

Stevenson Volunteer Fire Dept.

  • Strength: 30 active volunteer firefighters operating out of two stations, providing fire and rescue coverage on approximately 300 calls annually, including structure and vehicle fires, vehicle extrication and hazardous materials.
  • Service area: Northeastern part of 26-square-mile town of Monroe.
  • Other apparatus: 2003 Rescue One heavy rescue; 1992 KME-Freightliner pumper, 1,500-gpm pump, 1,000-gallon tank; 1988 Freightliner tanker, 1,500-gpm pump, 2,500-gallon tank; 2007 Ford brush truck; 1985 Chevy brush truck; 1985 Chevy utility truck.

Sutphen Engine Rescue 203
(Monroe Volunteer Fire Department)

  • Monarch 62-inch 6-person cab with 10-inch raised roof
  • Rolltec air bag system
  • Air Ride suspension
  • Crossfire tire monitoring system
  • Cummins ISM 500-hp engine
  • Allison EVS 4000 transmission
  • Hale QMAX 1,750-gpm pump
  • 750-gallon booster tank
  • Elkhart foam system
  • Deluge gun
  • Onan 10,000-watt PTO generator
  • Fire Research 12-volt HID brow and side lighting
  • Hurst Trimo with 3 preconnected reels
  • Zico ladder rack
  • ROM roll-up doors
  • Rear vision camera

Cost: $452,612 (without equipment)

Sutphen Truck 100, a 100-foot Quint (Stepney Fire Department)

  • Monarch SPH 100-foot mid-mount bucket and 6-person cab
  • Cummins ISM 500-hp engine
  • Allison EVS 4000 transmission
  • Hale QMAX 1,750-gpm pump
  • 280-gallon booster tank
  • Full complement of ground ladders
  • Breathing air to the bucket
  • Demolition and vent saws
  • Multiple PPV fans
  • Dewatering equipment
  • Fire Research 12-volt HID brow and side lighting
  • Rear vision camera
  • Rear outer panel chevron striping

Cost: $939,631 (without equipment)

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