By Alan M. Petrillo
Wilkins Township, Pennsylvania, is covered by three volunteer fire companies, each specializing in a particular area of firefighting in order to avoid duplication of effort and resources. The township covers 3.2 square miles and has a population of about 7,000 residents, which swells daily when its commercial district opens for business. Wilkins Township Volunteer Fire Company #3 runs a 2002 Sutphen 75-foot aerial quint fire apparatus and a 1980 Mack salvage truck, while company #1 has an engine and a mobile cascade air truck, and company #4 runs a heavy rescue.
Precision Fire Apparatus built a quick-attack mini pumper on a Ford F-554 chassis with Super Single tires for Wilkins Township (PA) Fire Company #3. (Photo courtesy of Precision Fire Apparatus.)
But Wilkins Township #3 was putting a lot of miles and run time on its quint—so much so that the fire company was worried about breakdowns and having to replace the quint prematurely. Chief Ron Bair says the fire company decided on purchasing a quick-attack vehicle that could take on some of the call volume for the quint.
“We looked at neighboring departments and especially liked what we saw at one of them that had five vehicles built by Precision Fire Apparatus,” Bair says. “We sat down for a dinner with a Precision rep and Steve Darcangelo, a salesman for Jeff Britt Fire Apparatus Sales, told them what we wanted, and drew up a preliminary sketch of the specs on a dinner napkin.”
Darcangelo, who had sold two Sutphen quints to Wilkins Township #3—the current quint and a previous one—says the main consideration the Wilkins firefighters expressed was that they wanted to extend the life of their quint. “The fire company needed a vehicle to take some of the workload off of the quint, and the more we discussed it, we found the idea of a quick-attack mini pumper vehicle to be perfect for them.”
The Precision quick-attack mini pumper has a 200 inch wheelbase, an overall length of 27 feet , two inches, overall height of nine feet and a gross vehicle weight rating of 24,000 pounds. (Photo courtesy of Wilkins Township Fire Co. #3.)
Trapper Meadors, sales engineer for Precision, said the challenging part of the project was getting all the equipment the fire company wanted on a Ford F-550 chassis. “We had to pay attention to the weight and realized we would be close to a F-550’s 19,500-pound gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR),” Meadors points out. “Fire departments usually add equipment to a vehicle during its life; they don’t take it away. So, we went with an upgraded Ford F-554 chassis that has a 24,000-pound GVWR.”
Darcangelo says all involved parties discussed different configurations and eventually decided on a rear-mounted pump. “The vehicle could have been built with a midship pump, but with the rear mount, Wilkins Township got around 40 percent more storage space on the same size body,” he says. “They realized the rear mount best met their needs.”
Wilkins Township Fire Co. #3 chose a rear mounted Hal 1,250-gpm pump with Akron valves for its quick attack mini pumper. (Photo courtesy of Precision Fire Apparatus.)
A F-550 4×4 chassis was shipped direct from Ford to Grand Prairie Ford, in Texas, which did the upfit to a F-554, upgrading the front axle, the rear end, and adding Super Single tires, Darcangelo points out. Once Grand Prairie completed its upfit, it shipped the chassis to Precision where the quick attack was built.
Bair says the quick-attack mini pumper is designed to run on a town-wide basis, responding second out on structure fires, but first out to automobile fires and nonstructure calls. The quick attack is powered by a Powerstroke 6.7-liter V8 engine, carries a Hale 1,250-gallon-per-minute pump with Akron valves, a 300-gallon UPF water tank with a 30-gallon foam cell, and a Hale FoamLogix foam system. Overall length is 27 feet, two inches, overall height is nine feet, and wheelbase is 200 inches.
The vehicle has ROM roll-up doors with LED compartment lights, a Class 1 multiplex electrical system, Whelen 12-volt LED scene lights at the rear, Whelen LED warning lights, a Command Light Shadow light tower, and a Smart Power 8-kW hydraulic generator. It also carries a 20-foot extension ladder, a 17-foot Little Giant ladder, an oil dry hopper in a wheel well, a four-point receiver winch system, 600 feet of five-inch large diameter hose (LDH), 300 feet of preconnected two-inch hose, two 200-foot 1¾-inch preconnected lines, and 300 feet of preconnect 2½-inch hose tipped by a Task Force Tips Blitzfire nozzle.
By going with a rear mounted pump instead of a midship pump, Wilkins Township Fire Co. #3 was able to gain 40 percent more storage space on the vehicle. (Photo courtesy of Wilkins Township Fire Co. #3.)
Meadors notes that the Wilkins Township #3 quick-attack mini pumper, which cost $285,000, is out of the ordinary. “We have been known for our unusual projects in the past,” he says, “and this one fits into that category.”
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist 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.