Cahokia (IL) Fire Department was running a 2003 Ford F-550 with a skid pump unit as a brush truck, but as the department outgrew the capabilities of the vehicle, it began researching how to replace it and with what configuration truck. The department’s officers and firefighters, all volunteers operating out of two stations, discussed having a vehicle that could handle car fires, dumpsters, and other hazards as well as brush fires and came up with a list of wants for its new truck.
“We wanted to be able to meet the department’s needs to cover a number of different kinds of fire situations,” says Stephen Robbins, Cahokia’s chief. “In addition, in our district, we have a compressed gas facility, an industrial chemical plant, a Phillips Refinery petroleum tank farm, and a number of grain elevators, so we had the need for a mobile monitor platform.”
The resulting pumper built by Unruh Fire, Robbins says, is on a Ford F-550 chassis and crew cab, powered by a Ford Power Stroke 6.7 liter 300-hp engine, with a Darley 2-1/2 AGE pump run by a 24-hp Kubota diesel engine, a 400-gallon McClarin Plastics polypropylene water tank, a 20-gallon foam cell, and a FoamPro 1601 Class A foam system.
But, the rig is far from typical of its class because it also carries two Task Force Tips 1,500-gpm Typhoon monitors on top of the rear of the body, one on each corner. “We call this truck our first attack industrial/brush truck,” Robbins notes. “The two Task Force Tips remote control monitors on the back are fed by standpipes, so if there’s a fire in one of those big industrial facilities, we can park the truck in a place to deal with the situation, hook up to a water supply, and fight fire and protect exposures. It gives us the option of doing a remote operation so we don’t put any firefighters in the danger zone. If for some reason we lose the truck, it’s an unmanned $200,000 vehicle, not three firefighters on a $600,000 pumper. This is really a safety issue.”
Brad Cashion, owner of Cashion Fire Equipment, who sold the pumper to Cahokia, says it was the first time he had mounted two large monitors on the back of small quick-attack/brush rig. “It is a great solution to their problem of protecting those petrochemical locations,” Cashion observes. “The monitors are remote controlled, so they can supply the unit with water from an engine or a quint at a distance. By standing off with their personnel and higher value apparatus, if the tank BLEVEs, then they only lose a truck that is much less costly, like $200,000 vs. $800,000 for an aerial quint or more than a million for an aerial platform quint.”
Wes Schamle, sales manager for Unruh Fire, says the chassis on the Cahokia industrial/brush pumper was lifted two inches and had Super Single wheels and tires installed as well as a full replacement brush guard bumper with 15-gpm ditch sweep nozzles at each corner. “All the compartments are full height and full depth,” Schamle says, “and the inside of the compartments, the header, and the top of the body all are finished with Line-X.
Cashion adds that the Cahokia rig has a 1 ¾-inch preconnect off the top of the body, two 100-foot one-inch booster reels, two three-inch hard suctions, a Power Arc warning light package, and two FRC 12-volt LED telescopic scene lights.
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and 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.