Apparatus Ideas: Frisco (TX) Fire Department Chooses Midmount Aerial for New Ladder Truck


Frisco, Texas, was the fastest growing city in the United States in 2017. It is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Its population was estimated at 200,490, and it is presently located in two counties—Collin and Denton—and covers 64 square miles. The city is located 25 miles north of Dallas.

Aside from having more than 50,000 residential units, it also has many malls, hotels, shopping centers, hospitals, schools, 24-story high-rise apartment buildings, and corporate entities such as the corporate headquarters for the Dallas Cowboys NFL team and the Dallas Stars NHL team.

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The fire department has kept up with the growth of the area by building new stations as needed and acquiring new apparatus to protect its residents. According to Assistant Chief Lee Grover, “Our department tries to replace our apparatus based on 10 years for engines and 15 to 20 years for trucks. The truck we had to replace was getting close to the 24-year mark, so we were due for a replacement.”

“We had heard that Pierce was coming out with a new aerial platform, and since almost all of our other apparatus were Pierce, we wanted to standardize with this new purchase,” Grover continues. “Our truck committee, along with our local dealer, traveled up to Appleton, Wisconsin, to the Pierce factory and looked at the new design before it was displayed at FDIC. It was demonstrated to us, and then we went to FDIC to look at it on display as well. Our committee was convinced that it would work well and was suited for our city and response area.”

The Frisco (TX) Fire Department’s Pierce Velocity Ascendant 100-foot platform.

1 The Frisco (TX) Fire Department’s Pierce Velocity Ascendant 100-foot platform. [Photos courtesy of the Frisco (TX) Fire Department.]

The rear compartment with chain saws and complement of ground ladders.

2 The rear compartment with chain saws and complement of ground ladders.

Compartments with struts, fans, and small chocks.

3 Compartments with struts, fans, and small chocks.


According to Grover, the vehicle presented the department with several advantages. The offset to the curb is shortened from 36 feet to 21 feet, and it has a five-section steel aerial, a 1,000-pound tip load, a shorter wheelbase, and a better cramp angle. “The vehicle has short jacking capability, integrated outrigger pads, and a quick 26-second setup,” adds Grover. “We also liked that it has a -14-degree angle below-grade operability without flexing the chassis. All in all, we couldn’t find anything we didn’t like about the vehicle. After deciding to go with this purchase, we went through the HGAC purchasing consortium. It was easier and quicker for us from design to delivery.”


Grover states that some of the options making the truck unique for Frisco include a 250-gallon water tank and 25-gallon Class A foam tank, front-mounted rescue tool setup, clean cab setup with vinyl seats that are easier to decontaminate, climate controls with air filter, air bags, collision avoidance, and a backup and sideview camera setup.

“We also carry the normal complement of ropes, truck company forcible entry tools, and a complete set of Holmatro rescue tools,” says Grover. The rig’s ground ladder complement includes one 35-foot, two 28-foot, two 16-foot, one 16-foot mounted on the fly section of the aerial, and one 14-foot folding ladder.

4 A compartment with fans; the chauffeur compartment with self-contained breathing apparatus.

Velocity® cab and chassis
100-Foot Ascendant® heavy-duty aerial tower
10-foot 10-inch overall height
Cummins 500-hp X12 engine
Allison DEVS 4000 transmission
TAK-4® independent front suspension
Air rear suspension
Command Zone™ electrical system
Husky™ 12 foam system
Waterous 2,000-gpm midship pump
250-gallon tank

“We traveled out to Pierce a few times during the build and, as always, we were impressed with their operations,” says Grover. “They always listened to our questions and concerns during all of our previous builds as well as this one. Delivery was pretty quick, and after some minor tweaking and equipment mounting, it was put into service. We have our own mechanics so that helps out with repairs and mounting equipment.”

The Pierce Graphics Team at the factory was able to put a Dallas Cowboys paint scheme on the truck at no additional cost, “which is a crowd pleaser as well as a favorite of our firefighters,” asserts Grover.

He adds that the shorter length of Truck 3’s Ascendant midmount provides firefighters with more maneuverability to reach emergencies in dense areas and on crowded streets in some of its response areas. Its aerial ladder can operate at -14 degrees when needed and carries specialized equipment designed for use during high-angle rescue emergencies and vehicle extrications, among other rescue incidents.

The Frisco Fire Department has always been proactive in its apparatus purchases in the past. This addition to its fleet was no exception. The department began standardizing with Pierce more than 10 years ago. This has worked out well not only in training for its firefighters but also maintenance by its in-house mechanics.

5 Compartments showing struts, electric reels, portable generator, and fans.

Deciding on a new concept for a fire apparatus can be a tricky experience. You really have to do your homework and due diligence. Speaking to the fire apparatus companies engineers as well as seeing a demonstration at the factory should be priorities. You also need to see construction of another department’s apparatus on the line before the manufacturer start yours to see if this is the way you want to go.

Design a new apparatus purchase not only for the present but for future needs. If you can afford to with your budget, make sure you add compartment space for future tool purchases and additional space for hose. Is the horsepower of the engine adequate for the weight of the vehicle? Speaking of weight, plan out what you will carry and look at National Fire Protection Association 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus. There is a great equipment weight calculator in one of the annexes at the rear of the document to help you out with this.

Last and most important, make sure the vehicle fits in your fire station. Measure the height and width at the factory. There have been many horror stories about fire departments that took delivery of new vehicles that don’t fit in the firehouses. If you adequately plan your purchase, you should not have a problem. After all of your concerns are met, you can decide if this is the type of apparatus for your city and response area.

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.

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