BY BILL ADAMS
Located in northern Vermont less than seven miles from Saint-Armand, Quebec, on the Canadian border, the Highgate Volunteer Fire Department purchased an E-ONE pumper in 1986.
It was one of only a handful of E-ONEs in the state. It is still in service today. Dan Desorcie, the fire chief at the time, believed in the product and also believed a closer sales and service facility would be beneficial to Vermont fire departments. That led to the formation of the dealership in 1988.
More by Bill Adams:
- Apparatus Purchasing: Are Fire Department EMS Squads Feasible?
- Apparatus Purchasing: Preconnects for “Engine Couples”
- Bill Adams Archive
According to the United States Department of the Interior’s Web site, Vermont is “rural in character with a few concentrated centers of urban development.” It encompasses more than 9,600 square miles. The National Park Service says more than 25 percent of Vermont’s acreage is covered by national forests with the Green Mountains splitting the state running north and south for its entire 250 miles length.
1 About 20 new deliveries cycle through Desorcie’s facility each year. Built in 2016 in St. Albans, Vermont, on 10 acres, there is plenty of room for expansion if necessary. (Photo>s courtesy of Garth Brooks.)
2 Two Desorcie service vans sit in front of their shop. If there were a siren sitting on top of the building and a Gamewell fire alarm box next to the door, it would look like a traditional New England fire station!
3 Cadyville, New York’s, four-door E-ONE/Navistar 1,250-gpm, 1,000-gallon top-mount pumper “on the lifts” in the Desorcie shop. The rig has shutter doors and a 40-gallon Class A foam tank.
The state’s topography poses unique challenges to its fire departments and the fire apparatus manufacturers that service them. The Green Mountain range itself contains four peaks greater than 4,000 feet in elevation. Average rainfall is more than four feet per year, and the state’s average snowfall is between seven and eight feet per year.
The Vermont State Firefighters Association shows there are around 235 fire departments. The Professional Firefighters Association of Vermont lists 10 of them as members. The largest city is Burlington with just over 42,000 inhabitants. There are just four other cities having populations between 10,000 and 20,000 people. The balance of Vermont’s population, of just more than 600,000 inhabitants, is scattered about in relatively small cities, towns, and villages.
Dan Desorcie originally started the business as a partnership called Noyes and Desorcie and became the Vermont representative for E-ONE in October 1988. Desorcie became sole owner in 1997, changing the name to Desorcie Emergency Products. By 1997, 50 E-ONEs had been placed in service in Vermont fire departments. Today, Desorcie Emergency Products, LLC, is a privately held company presently owned by Garth Brooks.
In 1999, the dealership became the authorized E-ONE dealer for the northern two thirds of New Hampshire. Similar to the mountainous Vermont terrain, the area contains the White Mountain National Forest and the White Mountain range with a high elevation of more than 6,200 feet. Again, there are only a couple cities with a population larger than 10,000 people.
4 The Derby Line (VT) Fire Department also runs a four-door E-ONE Navistar pumper. Theirs has a side-mount pump panel and hinged doors.
5 Orford, New Hampshire, runs a 1,250-gpm, 1,500-gallon two-door E-ONE Navistar 4×4 as Tanker 2. It has a Hale pump. Orford averages about six feet of snow per year.
6 Photographed before graphics were applied is Chittenden, Vermont’s, two-door Kenworth pumper with a 1,250-gpm Darley pump and 1,000-gallon water tank.
7 Georgia, Vermont, runs an E-ONE Typhoon custom cab aluminum top-mount rescue-pumper with a Hale 1,500-gpm pump and a 1,000-gallon tank. It features a preconnected hard sleeve on an extended front bumper for drafting out of a portable tank. It has a black-over-red paint scheme, raised cab roof, and hinged doors.
8 Keene, New York, runs this E-ONE Typhoon custom cab stainless steel rescue-pumper with a 1,250-gpm pump and 1,000-gallon tank. It has a side-mount pump panel, shutter doors, and a flat cab roof.
9 This E-ONE Cyclone II stainless steel pumper-tanker with a Waterous 1,500-gpm pump and 1,500 gallons of water was delivered to New London, New Hampshire. It has a short wheelbase, single-arm hydraulic ladder rack, shutter doors, a through-the-front-bumper front suction, and a unique black-over-yellow paint scheme.
In 2017, the territory grew again with E-ONE assigning Desorcie a large footprint of northern New York north of Glens Falls and west to Antwerp. This territory includes the Adirondack Mountains, the 9,300-square-mile Adirondack State Park, and only one city with a population of more than 10,000. Desorcie’s apparatus deliveries range from aerial towers for the older congested small cities and villages to tankers (tenders) and mini pumpers for the isolated residences and ski resorts located on remote mountain roads. Brooks joined the company in 2008 and assumed ownership three years later.
The dealership was originally located in High Gate Center, Vermont. In 1993, it relocated 10 miles down the road to St. Albans. A 3,600-square-foot sales facility with two service bays on a 10-acre parcel of land, also in St. Albans, was constructed in 2016.
Brooks says, “The facility enabled us, for the first time, to bring everything together under one single roof. The investment in the new facility offered our customers more service and repair opportunities, which are demanded in today’s emergency vehicle world.” He continues, “We pride ourselves on being able to provide in-station service across our three states of responsibility for E-ONE. We constantly strive to offer the best road emergency vehicle service available. With the manpower situation in today’s fire departments, us going to the customer to provide service rather than the customer having to transport a vehicle to us, we believe sets us apart from the competition. It results in less out-of-service time and is much more convenient for the customer.”
10 North Conway, New Hampshire, located in the center of the White Mountains, averages more than six feet of snowfall each year and runs this E-ONE Typhoon 4×4 CAFS-equipped aluminum pumper with a Waterous 1,500-gpm pump and 1,000-gallon tank. It has a two-armed ladder rack—different than the New London rig—full-height hinged doors, windows in a raised cab roof, and a unique extended front bumper design.
11 Cambridge, New York, took delivery of this E-ONE two-door Freightliner 2,000-gallon tanker with a 500-gpm Hale pump. Note the three low-mounted crosslays ahead of the pump house.
12 This E-ONE four-door Navistar 475-hp pumper-tanker with 2,500 gallons of water was delivered to New Hampton, New Hampshire. There’s a front suction inlet extending through the front bumper, collapsible hose on the rewind reels above the pump house, and a combination of shutter and hinged doors on the body.
13 A typical New England mini pumper is this foam-equipped E-ONE on a Ford F-550 chassis that went to Fairfield, Vermont. It has a Hale 750-gpm pump and carries 330 gallons of water.
14 Campton, New Hampshire, took delivery of this unique E-ONE Typhoon nonwalk-in heavy rescue. It features a stainless-steel body, CAFS module, raised cab roof, and shutter doors.
15 Malone, New York, took delivery of an E-ONE aluminum body nonwalk-in combination rescue/air truck on a two-door International chassis. It has a light tower and sports an all-yellow paint job.
16 Mallets Bay, Vermont, took delivery of an E-ONE Typhoon HP 75 Side Stacker quint with a 1,500-gpm Waterous pump and 500-gallon tank. It has a prepiped ladder pipe, hinged doors, and a black-over-red paint scheme.
The company has three salespersons, two service technicians, and two vehicle up-fitters. Brooks is president. Paul Haynes is the service manager, and interestingly, founder Dan Descorcie is the sales manager and still works part time as a sales representative.
Brooks says, “All salespeople have always been and are now active with their local fire departments in one manner or another. It is our belief that in order to design and deliver the finest apparatus, it’s important to understand the needs and challenges of our customers. All together there are over 125 years of firefighting experience that we can bring to the table to assist a customer in resolving their apparatus concerns, whether it be acquiring a new piece or servicing the present fleet.”
E-ONE is the only apparatus manufacturer Desorcie has represented. Brooks says, “Originally it was strictly an E-ONE dealership and solely dedicated to E-ONE apparatus sales and service. Loose equipment sales are offered but are not a key business goal. Servicing and/or furnishing a fire department’s rolling stock remains our key business objective.” The dealership sells around 20 rigs per year. It appears to operate like an efficient and well-oiled machine servicing fire departments in what can be described as an unforgiving territory—especially in winter months.
17 Burlington, Vermont, Tower 1 is an E-ONE Cyclone II HPS 100 steel tower—a straight truck company (or ladder company) without a pump. Many New England departments stay with traditional single-function aerial devices—usually equipped with numerous ground ladders.
18 Conway, New Hampshire, runs this E-ONE Cyclone II HM 100 dual-axle quint with an aluminum aerial, 1,500-gpm pump, and 500-gallon booster tank.
19 South Plattsburgh, New York, took delivery of this E-ONE Cyclone II RM 95 platform with a 2,000-gpm Hale pump and 300-gallon water tank.
INTERVIEW WITH GARTH BROOKS
Do you sell both extruded aluminum and stainless steel bodies?
“We sell both materials in our territory. It comes down to the customer preference. It is an advantage for us being able to offer both.”
Is there a certain size motor departments specify for their hilly terrains?
“There is some rugged terrain within our territory. Performance on hills is more of an effect from engine torque, not necessarily horsepower. We do have that conversation with customers, discussing engine options and their specific performance expectations. The Cummins ISL rated at 450 [horsepower (hp)] is the engine of choice for the majority of our customers. Obviously, aerial devices require ISX or greater engine horsepowers.”
Are most of your customers volunteer or career departments?
“Eighty percent of our customers are volunteer. What that equates to for us is that we need to recognize the unique needs of the volunteers while still responding to the career departments and their needs. We are available nights and weekends for both, and surprisingly both share some requirements that we help with, like in-station mobile service so their time is not spent moving trucks.”
Is there a preference for commercial or custom chassis for pumpers?
“Our customer base is split roughly 50/50 on chassis type, which is adjusted some by applications such as water haulers. What we have been seeing over the last five to 10 years is a shift of preference from the busier volunteer departments to custom chassis. They recognize the safety, convenience, and reliability of a chassis custom built for the fire vocation.” (Note: Water haulers is a regional term describing tankers or tenders. Many New England fire departments even refer to them as tanks similar to them referring to pumpers or engines as pumps.)
Is there a preferred size pump you sell?
“We sell all brands, and pump sizes are driven primarily by specific application and customer preference.”
Is there a preferred booster tank size in your territory?
“Engines are 1,000 gallons and tankers are either 2,000 or 3,000 gallons. Sometimes tank capacities are limited by the available space in some of the older firehouses in our territory.”
Is there a preference for walk-in or nonwalk-in rescue trucks?
“We have done 100 percent nonwalk-in bodies on both custom and commercial chassis.”
Is there a common cab seating capacity specified for pumpers in your area?
“Five or six is common on an engine with two or three seating positions on a two-door commercial chassis.”
What are the common types of aerial devices you sell?
“We sell both quints and nonpump-equipped ladder trucks whether they be aerial ladders or tower ladders.”
Is there a common tank capacity for tankers?
“We sell a few tankers each year whether it’s a rural pumper with 1,250- to 1,500-gallon tanks that can also function as a tanker as well as 1,800- to 3,000-gallon water haulers mostly on commercial chassis.”
Do you sell many mini pumpers?
“Mini pumpers are somewhat popular currently due to the all-wheel-drive option for the Northeast snow and ice. We have done both small pumps at 750 [gallons per minute (gpm)] and larger-volume 1,250-gpm pumps.”
Is there a common paint scheme for the rigs you sell?
“Paint and graphics seem to remain mostly traditional in our territory—all red, white over red, or black over red.”
Are onboard foam systems popular?
“Foam system requests run the full spectrum from none to [compressed air foam system (CAFS)] equipped. The requests seem to be area-dependent to some extent. Some areas rely heavily on foam systems; other areas seem to shy away due to cost and additional complexity.”
Is there a market for wildland type apparatus in your area (i.e., NFPA 1906, Standard for Wildland Fire Apparatus, compliant only)?
What are popular apparatus options?
“LED scene lighting powered from the chassis electrical system is almost the norm currently, and in many cases trumping a light tower. The ability to ‘quick dump’ pumpers with over 1,000-gallon water tank capacities continues to be popular.”
Do purchasers make vendors “follow the specs” when bidding or do they just look at low bid regardless of compliance?
“Our rural region seems to lean toward low bid generally speaking, but long-lasting relationships will still trump this if you can show the customer the value in buying E-ONE quality. In-station service seems to help solidify these relationships. Taking care of the truck for its service life is the key.”
Is there a trend for the “clean cab” concept?
“There is a lot of discussion on this, but the concept currently does not seem to be clearly defined as customers debate it internally.”
Do fire departments in your area write detailed service requirements in their purchasing specifications?
“This is becoming more common as customers realize they will require after-sales support with these more complex vehicles.”
Is there any trend away from sole-purpose rigs toward multifunction apparatus?
“In our territory and most likely all of rural America, the name of the apparatus game today is trucks that will take on two or three different functions. The days of having a truck for each job are gone due, in my mind, to affordability and, in the fire chief’s mind, enough personnel to get the job done. For example, today’s tankers have to also be a pump—whether the tanker is your spare engine or second-due pump or water supply tender. The truck can do all of these roles very well. The challenge is to keep the vehicle as compact as possible but still functional. It’s best to understand from the beginning that no vehicle will do all of its tasks perfectly. The job you assign it for 90 percent of your emergency responses is of the utmost importance, and from there its duty objectives cascade into one another. Common sense will guide the fire department to what the truck design is capable of and what will not work with the truck. Don’t try to do too much with this single vehicle or it will do nothing very well.”
Do purchasers favor co-op purchasing (like HGAC) over competitive bidding?
“Co-op purchasing is gaining popularity. Fire departments are now just realizing that co-op programs allow them to purchase exactly the truck they desire at the best possible cost without the burden and expense of the competitive bidding process. It is very common that a fire chief in the rural Northeast will maybe buy only one vehicle in his or her career. This makes the task of producing a great purchasing specification almost overwhelming and at times creating other unique problems such as design oversights. Co-op purchasing removes some of these challenges. It’s just an excellent way for a dealer to give the customer the vehicle they desire. It’s the same volume of work for the entire process, but the customer is able to depend on the dealer to do the majority of the work, unlike with a more traditional bid where the work is split 50/50 between the seller and the buyer. In some cases, it also can speed up the purchasing process.”
When departments write specs for competitive bidding, do they generally write open or proprietary purchasing specs?
“We see both. My concern with both competitive and open specs is the amount of interruption the dealer has to do with a spec. I’m bidding/building an E-ONE, so some of my requirements to do this may deviate from Brand X and Y, thus the constant challenge.”
Do you have any “words of wisdom” for fire apparatus purchasers?
“The majority of all fire apparatus are painted red, but that does not mean they are all built to the same levels of duty cycles and safety. Nothing is free of cost; you absolutely receive the quality and function of the rig for the price you pay for your new truck.”
Brooks continues, “Desorcie Emergency prides itself on its attention to the small details and after-sales service. Currently we have over 500 units in Vermont and our areas of responsibility in New Hampshire and New York. We believe that we are partners with our customers as they strive to provide the best possible emergency services for their constituents. Our success and continually increasing market share over the past 30 years convince us that the right approach is to make certain that any new apparatus solves any issues or needs that that particular customer has.”
BILL ADAMS is a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Editorial Advisory Board, a former fire apparatus salesman, and a past chief of the East Rochester (NY) Fire Department. He has 50 years of experience in the volunteer fire service.