Fire Department, Pumpers, Special Operations Hazmat

Nonhydranted Area Leads to Unique Rig Design in Fort Lee, New Jersey

Issue 11 and Volume 16.

 The Fort Lee Sutphen pumper-tanker carries a Waterous 2,000-gpm three-stage CMUH pump, with all electronic valves and gates.
The Fort Lee Sutphen pumper-tanker carries a Waterous 2,000-gpm three-stage CMUH pump, with all electronic valves and gates.
 Equipment storage and accessibility were big issues for Fort Lee, leading the truck committee to work with Sutphen to mount all equipment on slide-out trays or swing-out tool boards.
Equipment storage and accessibility were big issues for Fort Lee, leading the truck committee to work with Sutphen to mount all equipment on slide-out trays or swing-out tool boards.
 The Fort Lee (NJ) Fire Department purchased a Sutphen pumper-tanker with a 2,000-gpm three-stage pump, 2,000-gallon water tank, and 250-gallon Class B foam tank partly because of the lack of hydrants on I-95 leading to the George Washington Bridge into New York, New York. [Photos courtesy of the Fort Lee (NJ) Fire Department.]
The Fort Lee (NJ) Fire Department purchased a Sutphen pumper-tanker with a 2,000-gpm three-stage pump, 2,000-gallon water tank, and 250-gallon Class B foam tank partly because of the lack of hydrants on I-95 leading to the George Washington Bridge into New York, New York. [Photos courtesy of the Fort Lee (NJ) Fire Department.]
 Sutphen designed a Speedi-dry hopper to fit behind the ladder rack and down into the last rear compartment on the officer’s side of the pumper-tanker.
Sutphen designed a Speedi-dry hopper to fit behind the ladder rack and down into the last rear compartment on the officer’s side of the pumper-tanker.
 The Sutphen pumper-tanker’s front bumper houses a Hurst high-pressure electric power unit that can be detached and operated up to 200 feet away from the vehicle.
The Sutphen pumper-tanker’s front bumper houses a Hurst high-pressure electric power unit that can be detached and operated up to 200 feet away from the vehicle.

Fort Lee, New Jersey, is the town adjacent to the approaches of the George Washington Bridge, one of the most heavily used bridges in the world. It carries approximately 300,000 vehicles daily into and out of New York, New York. Routes 95, 46, and 4 come into and through Fort Lee but I-95, which leads to the bridge, doesn’t have hydrants along that section of roadway.

The Fort Lee (NJ) Fire Department, an all-volunteer force of 100 firefighters operating out of four stations, regularly deals with vehicle fires, rescues, and brush fires along I-95 in the area of the bridge. It recently replaced a 1994 pumper it was using to cover the area.

The department’s choice, after nearly three years of a process that involved town officials, outside consultants, and a fire department truck committee, was a 2011 Sutphen pumper-tanker, with a Waterous three-stage CMUH pump and 2,000-gallon UPF water tank with an integral 250-gallon Class B foam tank.

Unique Requests

Captain Lane Goldstein, who headed up the truck committee of seven firefighters, says the department was seeking a custom vehicle that satisfied several different needs—a large water tank because of the lack of hydrants along I-95, foam capability, a three-stage pump to allow high-pressure water flow to fight fires with minimal water, a stainless steel body, and maximum compartment space. “Our old pumper was shorter and still had four cabinets on each side but only half-depth,” Goldstein says. “Right off the bat, in the design phase, we knew we wanted full-depth compartments on both sides to maximize our tool storage.”

Goldstein says the committee approached manufacturers that either wouldn’t or couldn’t give Fort Lee what it wanted in terms of comparmentation. Then the town hired a consultant, who talked with several other fire truck manufacturers but got no further on the “full-depth compartments on two sides” issue. In the end, Goldstein notes, Sutphen was the only manufacturer that bid on the final specs for the pumper-tanker.

Tim Moots, the Sutphen dealer for northern New Jersey for the past 10 years and a paid firefighter in the Teaneck (NJ) Fire Department, says when Fort Lee decided it wanted a three-stage Waterous pump, Sutphen arranged for Waterous to bring its pump demonstration trailer with its cutaway pumps to Fort Lee so the company could do the design work to customize the pump for Fort Lee’s needs.

“The Fort Lee truck committee did its homework on the components it wanted to go into the truck,” Moots says. “They were very knowledgeable and knew their stuff. They were concerned about the size of the vehicle because they wanted to be sure it didn’t get too big in terms of weight.”

The end result was a Sutphen Monarch 73-inch cab with 20-inch raised roof, a stainless steel body and subframe on a wheelbase of 235 inches, a length of 38 feet, and a height of 10 feet 10 inches, says Darryl Rhyne, general manager of Sutphen’s White Lake, New York, facility, where the pumper-tanker was built.

Design Considerations

The truck’s Will-Burt light tower has six lighting heads, each capable of discharging 900 watts. The apparatus also has Whelen LED scene lights—three on each side of the rig and two in the rear—as well as Whelen LED warning lighting. The pumper-tanker carries a Harrison 15,000-watt generator to power electrical needs. “The committee didn’t want to see the Will-Burt light tower from the outside of the vehicle and wanted to give it some protection from low tree branches and other obstacles,” Rhyne says. “So, we recessed it in the top 10 inches of the cab’s raised roof.”

Goldstein points out that all the compartments have pull-out trays or swing-out tool boards to allow easy access to equipment. “There isn’t a solid shelf on the vehicle,” he says. “Every shelf, tray, or board moves in some way or another, and they all are built with the firefighter in mind to make the tools easy to find and to use.”

Rhyne notes the fire department was looking for a turnkey approach to the pumper-tanker. “They didn’t want to fool around with installing tools on the vehicle, so, in addition to the tools and equipment they purchased with the truck, they drove to our shop with a couple of vans loaded with their other equipment,” Rhyne says. “We spent about 10 hours with them laying out and determining where each tool went. We used some Slidemaster roll outs, but all the trays, tool boards, and 90 percent of the brackets were fabricated on site in-house.”

Managing the Water Load

Robert Fairfield, a Sutphen engineer, says keeping the water load as low as possible was a concern with the pumper-tanker because of the amount of water and foam it was designed to carry. “The vehicle’s center of gravity came off better than we expected,” Fairfield says. “We used a very unusual tank shape to accommodate everything they wanted. The foam tank is integrated into what we call a modified L-T tank—an L-tank and T-tank combined with additional modifications.” Fairfield points out that Sutphen also provided a recessed section in the top front of the water tank to hold the hydraulic generator.

Other Compartmentation

The top of the pumper-tanker is lined with coffin compartments on the left side, while the right side carries an enclosed ladder rack. To the rear of the ladder rack, Sutphen built a Speedi-dry hopper that flows down into the rear compartment. “Literally every inch on this truck has a purpose,” observes Rhyne.

The pumper-tanker carries a Hurst high-pressure power unit in its front bumper—a 240-volt electric motor capable of operating two tools simultaneously. The unit is hooked to a 100-foot hydraulic reel attached to a combination tool. In one of the vehicle’s back compartments, the department installed a portable gasoline-powered Hurst unit connected to a smaller combination tool. “The front bumper electric power unit is removable and, using the 200-foot electric cord reel, can be moved away from the apparatus,” Goldstein says. “Then you can move off on another 100 feet of hydraulic line.”

Other unusual elements on the vehicle are the two 300-foot booster reels that are plumbed to the high-pressure side of the Waterous pump. Goldstein says Fort Lee uses high pressure to fight car fires on the highway. “We’re able to put out car fires in a couple of minutes, using very little water,” he notes.

Goldstein adds that the department “hadn’t pumped foam in years, but on the day firefighters were scheduled for manufacturer’s training on the new pumper-tanker, we were called to a tractor-trailer fire on I-95 with nitrous oxide tanks burning and exploding. The truck pumped foam beautifully.”

The next night, the pumper-tanker responded to a car accident on I-95, Goldstein says, where “the Will-Burt light tower turned the scene into daylight for us.”

Goldstein says the department is pleased with the Waterous pump module in the vehicle. “The way Waterous put the pump module and the Foam Pro system together is great,” Goldstein notes. “It has all electric valves and gates, which are very easy to use; the control panel shows the status of every intake and discharge by LED lights; we can pressure govern or govern by rpm; and when we put the truck into pump gear, the generator automatically starts.”

Goldstein believes the turnkey approach to purchasing the pumper-tanker, which the department received in June, was the right move for Fort Lee. “We wanted the truck to be delivered in service, which is why we brought our tools and equipment out to them to be mounted,” he says. “The vehicle came to us firefighter-friendly and ready to go. It was delivered on a Friday at 3 p.m. and was in service at 5 p.m. the same day.”

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based freelance writer and is a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.


Sutphen Pumper-Tanker

  • Sutphen Monarch 73-inch cab with 20-inch raised roof
  • Stainless steel body and subframe
  • Wheelbase: 235 inches
  • Length: 38 feet
  • Height: 10 feet 10 inches
  • Detroit Diesel 515-hp Series 60 engine
  • Allison EVS 4000 transmission with Telma retarder
  • Waterous 2,000-gpm three-stage CMUH pump
  • 2,000-gallon UPF water tank with integral 250-gallon Class B foam tank
  • Foam Pro 3060D hydro-driven foam system
  • Will-Burt 5,400-watt light tower housed in recessed 10-inch upper roof section
  • Harrison 15,000-watt generator
  • Custom front bumper with rescue tools and removable electric power unit
  • Custom shelving and factory equipment mounting
  • Whelen LED warning lighting
  • Whelen LED scene lights, three each side and two at rear
  • Electric reel and Hurst tool hydraulic reels
  • Two high-pressure booster reels, one each side, carrying 300 feet of one-inch hose
  • Speedi-dry hopper
  • Coffin compartments at top of rig
  • Power windows and door locks with keypad entry
  • Vogel Auto Lube system
  • Intercom and backup camera system

Cost (with some equipment): $815,000


Fort Lee (NJ) Fire Department

Strength: 100 volunteer firefighters; four stations; providing fire suppression and rescue responses.

Service area: Mostly suburban setting comprising high-rise buildings and single-family homes in a two-square-mile area of northern Bergen County, New Jersey. Population of the fire district is more than 30,000 and the department responds to an average of 1,800 fire incidents a year.

Other apparatus: 2005 Pierce pumper, 1992 Pierce Pumper, 2000 Saulsbury pumper, 1990 Saulsbury Heavy Rescue, 2006 F-555 4×4 utility pumper, 1986 LTI 100-foot ladder, 1994 LTI 105-foot tower ladder, 1994 Simon-Duplex foam unit, 1989 Pierce pumper, 2002 Pierce pumper, Support Service Unit, two chief vehicles, and mobile air van and trailer.

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