Flemington-Raritan (NJ) First Aid & Rescue Squad wanted to replace one of its four ambulances and looked around at rigs run by neighboring agencies, comparing different models and brands to what it was currently using. The truck committee researched several brands and narrowed it down to two builders, then sent its specs to both companies.
Gary Breuer, captain and trustee at Flemington-Raritan First Aid & Rescue Squad and co-chair of the truck committee, says that after the committee members investigated other PL Custom ambulances in nearby squads, “they liked what they saw with PL Custom, plus their facility is only about an hour away from us, and they came in the lower of the two bids we received, so the membership chose to go with PL Custom.”
Flemington-Raritan (NJ) First Aid & Rescue Squad
Strength: Combination squad with 20 paid (three full-time, 17 per-diem) and 60 volunteer paramedics and emergency medical technicians; one station.
Service area: Provides emergency medical services and transport to the borough of Flemington, Raritan Township, and parts of Delaware and Readington townships for a total of approximately 60 square miles, with a daytime population of about 40,000.
Other apparatus: 2015 Horton Ford E-350 Type III ambulance; two 2015 Horton Ford F450 Type III ambulances; 2011 Horton Ford F-350 Type III ambulance; 2010 Pierce Velocity tandem-rear-axle heavy rescue; 1992 E-ONE/Mack rescue; 1992 BMY 6×6 military cargo truck refurbished in 2015 for blizzard and flood work; Ford F-350 4×4 crew cab pickup truck; Ford 4×4 Expedition chief’s vehicle; Polaris Ranger 6×6 utility terrain vehicle for rescue/EMS response.
1 PL Custom built this Type III ambulance for Flemington-Raritan (NJ) First Aid & Rescue Squad on a Ford E-450 Super Duty chassis and a 170-inch Medallion body with 72 inches of interior headroom. (Photos courtesy of Flemington-Raritan First Aid & Rescue Squad.)
2 The Flemington-Raritan Type III is powered by a Triton 6.8-liter V10 electronic fuel-injected gasoline engine with an engine block heater that develops 305 horsepower and 420 foot-pounds of torque.
Breuer notes that the Flemington-Raritan squad covers about 60 square miles of the borough of Flemington, Raritan Township, and parts of Delaware and Readington townships from a single station with three full-time and 17 per-diem paid paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and 60 volunteer paramedics and EMTs. “Before we signed the contract, we toured the PL Custom factory and Chad Newsome (national sales manager) gave us a tour where we saw the options available on the ambulances that were on the production line,” Breuer says. “We liked a lot of the standard features that they build into their ambulances as well as all the options that they offer to customize the rig to a customer’s needs.”
One of the standard features that the Flemington-Raritan crew liked, Breuer says, “was the PVC composite subfloor in the patient module, which is impervious to fluids, would not rot like plywood, and provided a better sound quality. At Chad’s suggestion, we also chose a low-cost option of the extra insulation package, which increased the R value, gave better sound deadening inside the module, and made the heating and air conditioning more efficient.”
Breuer says the Flemington-Raritan truck committee also liked the way the module was framed with side impact beams that carry through compartment doors and the no-seam aluminum roof and side panels. “PL Custom has a very clean manufacturing process, and it was nice to see first-hand how our ambulance was put together,” he points out. “From the prebuild meeting to the finish, we went to the factory six times to view the progress. Chad sent us weekly updates and photos of where the rig was in the building process, and it’s obvious they take pride in their vehicle; it was great for us to see the building process from beginning to end.”
3 In the patient box, Flemington-Raritan uses a Stryker Power-LOAD fastening system and cot with a mini rail clamp for mass casualty situations.
4 PL Custom designed a compartment on the left side of the rig to carry the squad’s TNT Rescue combi tool, ram, and power unit.
5 The Flemington-Raritan ambulance has a slide-out drawer on the driver’s side above the rear wheel well that carries hand tools.
Newsome lists the main features of the rig as being built on a 2019 Ford E-450 Super Duty chassis with a 170-inch Medallion body and 72 inches of interior headroom. Overall length on the vehicle is 14 feet 2 inches, overall height is 8 feet 11 inches, and overall width is 99 inches with a front axle rating of 5,000 pounds and a rear axle rating of 9,500 pounds.
“The Type III is powered by a 6.8-liter Triton V10 electronic fuel-injected gasoline engine with an engine block heater that develops 305 horsepower and 420 foot-pounds of torque,” Newsome says. “The ambulance has Whelen 900 series LED warning lights, Whelen Pioneer PCH2 LED spot/flood lights, underbody ground lighting, special wiring for the front grille lights with alternating flashers, air horns on the roof, a Whelen 295SLAS1 siren with a Howler low-frequency speaker system, and Federal Signal ES100C speakers.”
Compartmentation on the rig includes a left front space of 20 inches wide by 83 inches high by 21 inches deep with a window to view an oxygen bottle; a middle compartment that’s 40 inches wide, 39 inches high, and 20 inches deep covered by a pair of side-hinged doors; a pull out drawer over the left rear wheel well that’s 32 inches wide, 5 inches high, and 16 inches deep; and a left rear compartment that’s 31 inches wide by 26 inches high by 20 inches deep covered by a single side-swing door.
Right-side compartments include the right front with inside and outside access that is 20 inches wide by 55 inches high and 33 inches deep above the floor and 20 inches deep below the floor; the right rear compartment is 24 inches wide by 80 inches high by 21 inches deep.
6 The squad made good use of this narrow compartment on the curb side of the vehicle
PL Custom Body and Equipment Co. Type III Ambulance
- 2019 Ford E-450 Super Duty Type III ambulance
- 170-inch Medallion body with 72 inches interior headroom
- 14-foot 2-inch overall length
- 8-foot 11-inch overall height
- 99-inch overall width
- Polypropylene fenderettes and rub rails
- Front axle rating: 5,000 pounds
- Rear axle rating: 9,500 pounds
- Triton V10 6.8-liter electronic fuel-injected 305-horsepower, 420 foot-pounds torque gasoline engine with engine block heater
- Stryker Power-LOAD fastening system with mini rail clamp
- Interior of module with attendant’s CPR seat on left side, attendant’s seat at head, and squad bench on curb side
- Whelen 900 series LED warning lights
- Whelen PCH2 Pioneer LED spot/flood lights
- Underbody ground lighting
- Whelen 295SLAS1 siren with Howler low-frequency speaker system
- Federal Signal ES100C speakers
Price without equipment: $229,125
Inside the module there’s a Stryker Power-LOAD fastening system for the cot with a mini rail clamp for mass casualty situations, Newsome points out, an attendant’s seat at the head of the cot with a three-point harness, a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)/attendant’s seat on the left side with a six-point harness, and a squad bench on the right side with two six-point harnesses. “There is custom cabinetry throughout the module,” Newsome says, “with glove units built into some cabinet doors. We also built in a custom storage compartment drawer under the CPR seat that’s accessible from the exterior driver’s side of the vehicle.”
Breuer notes that the Flemington-Raritan ambulances need a good balance between inside and outside storage. “We had PL Custom design a compartment to carry our TNT Rescue combi tool, ram, and power unit,” he says. “Also, we needed space for our Sked rescue system, personal flotation device throw bags, and cribbing. This ambulance is almost like a semi-rescue, so when we get dispatched to what seems like a simple call but turns out to be a really bad accident where things are critical, we are able to handle the situation and access the patient.”
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.