The Sutphen family has been building fire apparatus since 1890. Over the past 129 years, the company has built a complete line of pumpers and aerials. All have been built with various company options and innovations.
One type of apparatus the company had not been building was the 75-foot rear-mount quint on a single rear axle. Although this type of apparatus has been around for many years with several manufacturers, it has become increasingly popular among fire departments around the country because of decreasing staffing and wanting to do more with less. So at FDIC International 2016, Sutphen formally rolled out its version of this popular aerial.
A DOWNSIZING CUSTOMER
A great deal of repeat customers, and also new ones, seemed to be interested. One of those repeat customers was the Dormont (PA) Fire Department, a combination fire department located in one of the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. According to Matthew Davis, chief of department, “We had been a Sutphen customer for quite some time and were pleased with their vehicles. We began looking to downsize our department’s apparatus. We had a 1995 Sutphen midmount quint and wanted a smaller unit. We wanted to combine a pumper and our midmount quint, primarily because of low [staffing] issues.” This would be the department’s fourth Sutphen.
The department also wanted to have a new unit that would be easier to drive and more maneuverable around its district’s tight streets, which have parking on both sides.
Dormont (PA) Fire Department
Dormont’s truck committee consisted of volunteer and paid members, since it is a combination department. “We began the process in January 2017,” says Davis. “All of our purchases are based on age, maintenance costs, and community needs. We purchased through the PA COSTARS purchasing program. By doing this, we didn’t have to go out to bid and could pick whatever manufacturer we wanted. Also, the purchase was taxpayer-funded, so money was not a big worry.” The committee looked at several manufacturers, and when the local dealer brought around a demo unit, the committee was sold on Sutphen again. “Our department never had any problems with the other Sutphens we have, so this choice wasn’t a problem,” adds Davis. “There was a great deal of detail work on this model, plus it had huge compartments and a shorter wheelbase.”
Dormont Sutphen Specs
The new quint has a 500-gallon water tank compared with 300 gallons on the older quint. Operating the ladder can be done via remote control. The vehicle is five feet shorter than the department’s older unit—a big plus for maneuverability in its response area.
By choosing Sutphen again, training on the new unit was similar to the department’s other units. Tools in the compartments were the same as its other vehicles. “We standardized our operations to make it simpler for our firefighters on the fireground,” says Davis. “We added a 6-kW generator and an all-LED light package as well.”
Committee members visited the factory twice, dealing directly with the Sutphen facility in Ohio. “Everyone we came in contact with at Sutphen was great,” says Davis. “The only change we made after visiting the factory was that we added handles next to the grille and some minor detail stuff. Any problems, which were minor, were quickly handled by Sutphen, so service after the sale was great.”
The Dormont Fire Deparment, like most fire departments around the country, is downsizing because of low staffing problems. Not only did Dormont downsize the size of its previous quint, but it also combined apparatus. The new quint is five feet shorter and more maneuverable. The ladder can be controlled by remote control and still has enough compartment space to standardize all of its tools. Since it had previous Sutphens in its apparatus inventory, training was also similar to the older units. Sounds like a win-win situation for them.
Many fire departments are choosing to go with the many apparatus purchasing consortiums available around the country. By doing so, departments can choose the apparatus and manufacturer they want without having to go out to bid. However, many jurisdictions have various rules you may still have to follow, and this type of purchasing may not be for you. Investigate it and see if you can use these types of programs. In any case, plan well enough in advance, and your purchase of any type of apparatus will go smoother.
BOB VACCARO has more than 40 years of fire service experience. He is a former chief of the Deer Park (NY) Fire Department. Vaccaro has also worked for the Insurance Services Office, the New York Fire Patrol, and several major commercial insurance companies as a senior loss-control consultant. He is a life member of the IAFC.