Apparatus Ideas: Patchogue FD Union Hook and Ladder Co.1

The Patchogue (NY) Fire Department on the south shore of Long Island in Suffolk County, New York, has been in operation since 1880. It has operated many different types of apparatus during its existence. However, in 2002, the department went for its first Pierce Dash 100-foot aerial platform and was hooked; excuse the pun.

“At FDIC 2018, Pierce unveiled the new Ascendant line of [platform] aerials,” says Patchogue Captain Tyler Grauer. “We had attended the event and were interested in the simplicity of their new design. Our committee traveled to Pierce in Appleton, Wisconsin, to operate a demo unit. We drove it and also flowed water at the factory. From that point, we decided this was the way to go for our purchase of our new aerial platform.”

The department usually keeps its apparatus for 20 to 25 years before replacement. This time, according to Grauer, the department decided to go for an early replacement. “The truck we had was only 17 years old and was still in great shape,” he says, “so we thought by doing an early replacement we could get more money for the vehicle.”

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Grauer adds, “I was lucky to be able to pick my own truck committee, which was comprised of three ex chiefs, the chief driver, the ex captain, and myself. Our board also gave us no limit on price for the truck within reason, and that was paramount to get what we wanted.”

The 2019 Pierce Velocity 100-foot Ascendant platform with six-person cab.

1 The 2019 Pierce Velocity 100-foot Ascendant platform with six-person cab. (Photos by author.)

Front and rear drop-down jacks with built-in skid plates.

2 Front and rear drop-down jacks with built-in skid plates.

Short length side outriggers.

3 Short length side outriggers.

For the purchase, the department went through the HGAC purchasing consortium. “It was easier to purchase what we wanted and saved us a great deal of time,” says Grauer. “Since we had good luck with the previous ladder that was a Pierce, it was a no brainer to go that way again as well.”

Department personnel were already familiar with how Pierce operates, having been out to Appleton when it built a heavy rescue two years ago. For this aerial, the committee traveled three times: preconstruction, mid construction, and final inspection, according to Grauer. “We made some corrections at the plant during this process but nothing major,” he says. “Some of the concepts we liked about the Pierce Ascendant are that the vehicle has a shorter wheelbase and, in addition, we chose the rear steer option that makes it easier for maneuverability around some of our tight streets and residential complexes in the village.” Grauer notes that the truck is five feet shorter than the department’s previous aerial, and the outriggers are self-leveling and have built-in outrigger plates. “Outrigger reach is also shortened, making it easier to set up in tight areas,” Grauer says. “In addition, it was a foot shorter in height.”

“We also have more ground ladder storage, almost double of what we had on the older truck, and a great deal more compartment space. All in all, the truck is easier to operate for our drivers. Keeping it a simple operation was also one of the goals of our truck committee.”

Patchogue Specs

Pierce Velocity Ascendant chassis
Six-person cab and aluminum body
100-foot aerial midmount platform
Oshkosh TAK-4 24,000-pound front axle
Oshkosh TAK-4 52,000-pound rear axle
Pierce Rear Steer
Waterous 2,000-gpm single-stage pump
270-gallon polypropylene tank
30-gallon auxiliary tank
Cummins X12 500-hp engine
Allison EVS 4500 automatic transmission
Jacobs engine brake
Whelen LED light package
Pierce Command Zone advanced electronics and control system
HiViz LED scene lighting
Xantrex Inverter PROsine 1,880-W, 129-VAC, 1,350-W

The rig has a single-stage 2,000-gpm pump with a single deck gun in the basket to save weight, according to Grauer. The truck committee chose a TFT Monsoon deck gun in the bucket that enables firefighters to flow foam as well as water. There is a 70-gallon water tank and a 30-gallon tank that contains wetting agent. “The wetting agent is Nova Cool manufactured by Fire Aide,” says Grauer. “The reason for the wetting agent is that we have a lot of target hazards in our response district, such as three gas stations that have ethanol; Air Weld, which has a large number of oxyacetylene tanks; and several fuel oil storage tanks. We felt that having this added agent would help in extinguishment if any of these establishments had a fire.”

Rear ladder storage and a single TFT Monsoon deck gun attached to bucket.

4 Rear ladder storage and a single TFT Monsoon deck gun attached to bucket.

Driver side compartments with engine company tools and fittings, nozzles, and HURST Jaws of Life eDRAULIC extrication tools.

5 Driver side compartments with engine company tools and fittings, nozzles, and HURST Jaws of Life eDRAULIC extrication tools.

Officer side compartments, with saws, rope, hand tools, forcible entry tools, slide-out tool boards, and extinguishers.

6 Officer side compartments, with saws, rope, hand tools, forcible entry tools, slide-out tool boards, and extinguishers.

The truck carries two 200-foot crosslays of two-inch attack line. The department did away with 1¾-inch and 2½-inch hose. It also has digital gauges and auto prime for drafting. Patchogue was also able to purchase all new firefighting equipment for the rig, including new hose; nozzles; tools; eDRAULIC rescue tools; and the usual truck company tools like saws, forcible entry tools, etc. It also carries a full set of Milwaukee hand-operated electric power tools, RIT operational gear with titanium Stokes baskets, and portable scene lights. “All of our firefighters also carry radios and thermal imaging cameras,” adds Grauer.

Patchogue (NY) Fire Department
Provides fire protection to its 11,800 residents in a 2½-square-mile district that includes numerous condo and apartment complexes, restaurants, one- and two-story residences, strip malls, and several light commercial areas. There is also a waterfront area. It is all volunteer with two stations. Fire apparatus include five engines, one truck, a heavy rescue, a brush truck, a fire police unit, a 32-foot fire boat, and several utility vehicles. The department responds to more than 500 alarms per year.

The truck also includes a 12-volt system with inverter to power all of the emergency scene lighting as well as exterior emergency lighting, eliminating the need for a generator. “We were able to go to remote control with the bucket, ladder controls, nozzle, and foam operation as well,” says Grauer.

Grauer continues, “Dealing with Ray Mueller, our salesman, and Firematic, the local Pierce dealer, in general made this purchase go smoothly. Firematic also mounted and installed all of our tools and equipment at their shop. They were helpful and attentive to all of our needs along the process.”

The Patchogue Fire Department received a new Pierce Ascendant aerial platform that is highly maneuverable, as far as driving in its village, and also has a simple setup and operation. It gained additional ground ladder storage and some compartment space by going with Pierce’s Ascendant line for its ladder choice. The purchase gave the department what it needed for now and well into the future for its response district.

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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