By Alan M. Petrillo
Safety of the vehicle’s operator and overall visibility of the operations area were two important considerations that the Delton (MI) Fire Department wrestled with when the officers and firefighters were spec’ing out a new tanker (tender). The department already had two tankers with midship pumps and side pump controls, which left the pump operator either standing in the roadway or in a ditch on many of the area roads. Visibility on the opposite side of the vehicle was nihil.
Accordingly, the department decided on a rear-mounted pump panel, but didn’t want the operator standing on the ground at the rear, so it spec’d an elevated platform accessed by a ladder fixed to the back of the rig. “We wanted the operator to have visibility all around the tanker when he was on the platform,” Denton Chief Gene Muskovin says.
The department currently has 20 paid on-call firefighters working out of one station and covers 51 square miles, including the city of Delton, part of Barry Township, and all of Hope Township.
The Delton (MI) Fire Department had built vehicles with Spencer Manufacturing in the past, Muskovin points out. “In 2005 Spencer built a 3,000-gallon tanker with a 1,000-gallon-per-minute (gpm) pump for us,” he says, “and in 2009, they built a brush truck on a Ford F-550 chassis with a 250-gpm pump and 300 gallons of water. We were happy with what they did and decided to have them build our new tanker.”
Muskovin notes that Spencer Manufacturing ended up improving on the idea of a raised rear deck as the pump operator’s platform. “Instead of a ladder access, they designed 22-inch wide stairs on each side of the platform, leading up to a recessed pump panel in the center of the back end of the tanker,” he says. “That way the pump controls could be accessed from either side of the vehicle. We also put a split hos bed on each side of the pump panel.”
Delton carries 1,000 feet of four-inch large diameter hose (LDH) in the hosebed on the driver’s side, and lengths of three- and 1¾-inch dead-lay hose on the right side. A compartment on the right side holds two 10-foot sections of hard suction and pike poles.
Grant Spencer, Spencer Manufacturing’s general manager, says the tanker’s Hale QMAX 1,500-gpm pump is still midship-mounted, but controlled from the rear pump panel. “That way, no intakes or discharges are located around the operator,” Spencer notes. “We put on three six-inch intakes, one on each side midship and one at the rear. The vehicle has all Akron electric valves, an FRC Turbofoam system, an FRC pressure governor, a Trident dual auto prime, and a 1,280-gallon APR water tank.”
The Delton tanker, which is built on a Spartan Metro Star chassis with an extreme duty interior in the two-person cab, carries two Task Force Tips low-level jet siphon strainers, one on each side of the vehicle, and has two running board hose trays, one each side, behind a roll-up door that conceals 300 feet of preconnected 2½-inch hose and a Task Force Tips Blitzfire monitor. The tanker also has 200 feet of preconnected 1¾-inch hose in the front bumper and 300-feet of 1¾-inch preconnect crosslay behind the cab.
Spencer says the tanker has a Smart Power 8-kW generator, a six-light Command Light KL450 LED light tower where the bottom two lights rotate through 180 degrees, Whelen warning and scene lighting, Akron cord reels, and all ROM roll-up doors.
Muskovin notes that so far, all the tanker operators like being able to work off the back of the vehicle and not have to dodge traffic or thread their way around supply or discharge hoselines. “The big bonus is how quiet it is at the pump panel,” Muskovin says. “With the pump midship and the engine up front, there’s very little noise back there.”
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist and is 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.