Wyndmoor (PA) Hose Company #1’s New Rosenbauer ACP
BY BOB VACCARO
Wyndmoor Hose Company #1 is located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and, like most fire companies located in Pennsylvania, has a historical past.
The area in the township of Springfield where the fire company is located was once the estates of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, and Edward T. Stotesbury, a prominent banker tied to the J.P. Morgan Company.
Wyndmoor Hose Company #1 was formed in 1906 and chartered in 1907. The beginnings of the local fire company grew out of an industrial base at Mermaid Lane and Queen Street. There, the Nelson Valve Company, which was a large industrial complex, began an in-house fire brigade to meet the needs of the dangerous industrial mechanisms used to make hydraulic valves. Eventually, the local community was solicited for its help in keeping this fire unit viable and expanding its services to the larger community. Residents volunteered, recognizing the communal benefit, and with help from the valve company, a two-wheeled hand cart was purchased and 500 feet of hose. By 1909, the shed used at the valve company was expanded, as were the hose carts to four wheels and two horses. Horse power proved to be a problem. A monetary reward was granted to the first horse team to arrive at the sound of the alarm to haul the apparatus to the scene. This actually produced a rivalry among horse teams!
At the dawn of the Roaring Twenties, the fire company got a new home on Queen Street closer to Willow Grove Ave. It still stands and served as a firehouse for nearly 50 years. In 1927, Wyndmoor purchased two Hale pumpers and in 1940 a city service ladder truck. As the nation’s infant automotive industry diversified and began to specialize, communities began purchasing recognizable fire apparatus. A huge property along Willow Grove Avenue was purchased by the fire company, and large fairs were held for a dozen years. The proceeds from these carnivals offset astronomical costs and allowed the continued modernization of the fire service in Wyndmoor.
UPDATING ITS AERIAL
Fast forward to today: Wyndmoor needed to replace an aging 2004 E-ONE Telesqurt, which succeeded a 1979 Mack with a Telesqurt. “We always had some type of an elevated master stream device on a pumper and wanted to expand our scope,” says Chief Francis DePaul. “Our fire company didn’t operate with a traditional truck committee. Our philosophy was to use the opinions of the whole department, with help from Horrocks Fire and Rescue Apparatus, the local Rosenbauer dealer, and Rosenbauer engineers directly at the factory. We felt that in this way, everybody in our fire company could give their opinions, and we would satisfy everyone’s ideas. Some may say this was a crazy idea in this day and age, but fortunately it worked well for us and our needs.”
The fire company began looking at different manufacturers that produce these types of vehicles. “Our next step was to design an aerial device with a bucket to give our firefighters more capabilities to work with and a safer platform,” says DePaul. “We went out to bid and at the time there was only one manufacturer building this type of vehicle. We originally looked at their design, but they decided to stop production on their current model for a redesign. This was going to take an additional two years, and we didn’t want to wait that long. The design we would eventually decide on would have to be a sole-source manufacturer.” The truck was built on a Rosenbauer Commander RBM chassis, with the body built at Rosenbauer’s Minnesota plant and the boom built at its Nebraska plant.
Wyndmoor’s captain and chief engineer traveled to the Minnesota plant for the final inspection. “They were impressed with the whole operation,” adds DePaul. “The vehicle turned out 10 times better than we anticipated.”
55-Foot Articulating Cobra Platform (ACP)
ENGINE AND TRUCK FUNCTIONS
DePaul says that the truck the fire company eventually chose was built on a chassis with a short wheelbase on a single rear axle, which made it more maneuverable around Wyndmoor’s district. It carries 1,000 feet of five-inch large-diameter hose, 150 feet of 1¾-inch line in the front bumper, and three crosslays: one with 200 feet of 2½-inch hose and two with 200 feet each of two-inch hose. “We have additional compartment space to carry our existing equipment and also have space for future needs,” he adds.
The truck also carries the normal complement of engine company tools and fittings, basic forcible entry tools, a battery-powered Holmatro rescue tool in the front bumper, a Partner saw, fans, and a combi tool.
Wyndmoor Hose Company #1
“The truck has virtually no chrome on it,” says DePaul. “It was planned this way. We blacked out all of the diamond plate and all the other components so that it was easier to clean and didn’t show any dirt. The truck is the only [articulating platform] in Montgomery County and works out well for us and our mutual-aid companies.”
A nontraditional approach in working together with all of its members, chief, and officers produced a well-planned-out fire apparatus that will provide service in their community well into the future.
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.