Apparatus Purchasing: Can’t Afford a Real Ladder Truck, Part 2

By Bill Adams

Part 1 (October 2020) described a community telling the fire department to buy a pumper with longer ground ladders because it can’t afford an aerial device. Dave Perkins, East Coast aerial sales manager for E-ONE, a REV Group brand, and I continue the story of designing such a rig, calling it a pumper-ladder (PL). Years ago, it was called a quad.
Comparison

To evaluate the feasibility, practicality, and fireground efficiency of our PL, compare it to a typical 75-foot rear-mount quint with a 500-gallon tank found in many residential areas. With a single rear axle, it has a wheelbase (WB) of around 210 to 220 inches, a 34- to 37-foot overall length (OAL), and an overall height (OAH) generally less than 12 feet. A dual-axle quint could have a WB of more than 230 inches and an OAL of more than 38 feet. Perkins says, “Although a quint’s short wheelbase is a highly desirable selling feature, the actual wall-to-wall turning radius is a critical measurement when the bedded aerial extends beyond the bumper. Bumpers might absorb a hit; however, walls and telephone poles are unforgiving if struck with the aerial device.”

A 1976 Young-Bison quad showing a 30-foot 3-section extension on the left side. On the right side and sliding in the rear were two 35-foot 3-section ladders, two 24-foot two-section ladders, a 40-foot 3-section extension ladder, and 14-foot roof and 10-foot folding ladders. For reference, the 30-foot is 13 feet 3 inches long; the 35s are 15 feet 3 inches, and the 40-foot is almost 17 feet long. Compare a 40-year-old quad’s ground ladder complement with today’s typical 75-foot rear-mount quints.

1 A 1976 Young-Bison quad showing a 30-foot 3-section extension on the left side. On the right side and sliding in the rear were two 35-foot 3-section ladders, two 24-foot two-section ladders, a 40-foot 3-section extension ladder, and 14-foot roof and 10-foot folding ladders. For reference, the 30-foot is 13 feet 3 inches long; the 35s are 15 feet 3 inches, and the 40-foot is almost 17 feet long. Compare a 40-year-old quad’s ground ladder complement with today’s typical 75-foot rear-mount quints. (Photo courtesy of Tom Shand.)

Toyne built this 75-foot quint on a single-rear-axle Spartan chassis with an LTC aerial for the Boiling Springs Lake (NC) Fire Department with a 209-inch wheelbase. Toyne National Sales Manager Mike Watts says it carries a 35-foot 3-section extension, a 24-foot 2-section extension, and 6-foot roof and 10-foot folding ladders.

2 Toyne built this 75-foot quint on a single-rear-axle Spartan chassis with an LTC aerial for the Boiling Springs Lake (NC) Fire Department with a 209-inch wheelbase. Toyne National Sales Manager Mike Watts says it carries a 35-foot 3-section extension, a 24-foot 2-section extension, and 6-foot roof and 10-foot folding ladders. (Photo courtesy of Toyne.)

President John Witt of Safetek Emergency Vehicles Ltd. in Canada says this 23-meter (75-foot) Smeal quint on a single-rear-axle Spartan for the Burlington (Ontario) Fire Department is a typical build for Canadian departments. It has a 2,000-gpm pump; a 400/20-gallon water/foam tank; a 214-inch wheelbase; an overall length of 37 feet 10 inches; and a ground ladder complement of a 35-foot 3-section, a 24-foot 2-section, a 10-foot attic, and a 16-foot roof ladder on the aerial’s right side base section. It is 11 feet 6 inches high.

3 President John Witt of Safetek Emergency Vehicles Ltd. in Canada says this 23-meter (75-foot) Smeal quint on a single-rear-axle Spartan for the Burlington (Ontario) Fire Department is a typical build for Canadian departments. It has a 2,000-gpm pump; a 400/20-gallon water/foam tank; a 214-inch wheelbase; an overall length of 37 feet 10 inches; and a ground ladder complement of a 35-foot 3-section, a 24-foot 2-section, a 10-foot attic, and a 16-foot roof ladder on the aerial’s right side base section. It is 11 feet 6 inches high. (Photo courtesy of Safetek.)

We want the PL to be compliant with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus, Chapter 5 Pumper Fire Apparatus. It will carry most of the equipment required for an NFPA 1901 Chapter 6 Aerial Fire Apparatus (ladder truck) and sufficient ladders to reach the roof in two places and a second-floor window on four sides of a typical residence.

Some quint designs sacrifice highly desirable engine and ladder truck features and extraneous but desirable equipment to meet an arbitrary size requirement. We chose the opposite. Because the PL doesn’t have an aerial device, we still want it to be firefighter-friendly (easy to work off of) and carry more equipment than most 75-foot quints.

Another build for Canada is this Pierce 75-foot single-axle quint for Black Diamond Fire Rescue.

4 Another build for Canada is this Pierce 75-foot single-axle quint for Black Diamond Fire Rescue. (Photo courtesy of Pierce.)

Sutphen built this 75-foot rear-mount single-axle 2,000-gpm 500-gallon quint with a 217-inch wheelbase for the Kennedy Space Center. It carries a 35-foot 3-section extension, a 24-foot 2-section extension, a 16-foot roof, and a 10-foot folding ladder. It is 37 feet 11¼ inches long and has a 12-foot travel height. There is an exterior compartment on each side of the crew cab. Ahead of the pump house are compartments to vertically hold a stokes basket on one side and a sliding tool board on the other.

5 Sutphen built this 75-foot rear-mount single-axle 2,000-gpm 500-gallon quint with a 217-inch wheelbase for the Kennedy Space Center. It carries a 35-foot 3-section extension, a 24-foot 2-section extension, a 16-foot roof, and a 10-foot folding ladder. It is 37 feet 11¼ inches long and has a 12-foot travel height. There is an exterior compartment on each side of the crew cab. Ahead of the pump house are compartments to vertically hold a stokes basket on one side and a sliding tool board on the other. (Photo courtesy of Sutphen.)

Our wish list follows. It isn’t a complete apparatus specification. It’s the first stage of a feasibility study that apparatus purchasing committees (APCs) should give to apparatus manufacturers (OEMs) with a request: “These are the parameters we have to work within. This is what we want and how we’d like it laid out. Tell us if you can do it or if you have a better way of doing it.” Sufficient information is provided, enabling OEMs to design a rig whereby an APC can finalize a layout and develop purchasing specifications.

Dimensions
  • 100-inch-wide 6-seat medium four-door custom cab with 6-inch raised roof.
  • Maximum 208-inch WB, 126-inch OAH, and 402-inch OAL.
  • 100-inch-wide body.
Pump and Tank
  • 1,500-gallon-per-minute (gpm) single-stage midship; defer to OEM to recommend best type to meet inlet/discharge sizes and locations.
  • Minimum 800-gallon booster tank, including foam cells.
Integral Pump House and Operator’s Panel
  • Operator’s panel (OP) on left-hand side (LHS).
  • 500-pound slide-out step on each side.
  • No requirement for discharge controls/gauges to be in a straight line.
  • No suction inlets or discharges on, next to, or above the OP.
  • Four-inch handwheel-controlled discharges; inlets with 6-inch handwheels.
  • Tank suction/fill valves push-pull rod controlled.
  • 6-inch master and 3½-inch line gauges.
  • Vertically stacked master gauges, water/foam tank gauges, tank suction/fill controls, and pressure governor on the OP’s right-hand side (RHS).
  • Chassis monitoring and function controls/gauges (i.e., fuel, air horn, 12-volt scene lights) on cab wall facing the OP.
  • Pump/foam data and operational plaques, warning labels, and generator controls on the exterior compartment facing the OP.
Inlets
  • One 6-inch RHS recessed behind bifold pump house access doors.
  • One 6-inch at the rear; run as straight as possible to maximize drafting; defer to the OEM for best size piping and valve.
  • Locate both 45 to 55 inches from the ground—high enough to clear guard rails and folding tanks and low enough to facilitate attaching hose.
  • Terminate both with 6-inch male National Hose (NH) threads and 6-inch NH long-handled female (LHF) × 5-inch Storz swiveling elbows and caps.
  • Rear suction adaptor and cap are not to extend beyond the tailboard.
  • 5-inch Storz × 2½-inch NH LHF swiveling adaptor and 6-inch NH LHF × 4½-inch NH LHF double swiveling hydrant adaptor with a mount adjacent to each inlet.
Discharges
  • Two three-inch RHS recessed behind pump house access doors with iron pipe thread (IPT) male threads; 5-inch Storz swiveling elbow and cap with 3-inch IPT female swivel.
  • 5-inch Storz × 2½-inch NH male adaptors—mount them adjacent to both RHS discharges.
  • Two 3-inch at the rear, a maximum of 60 inches from the ground; one on each side just inboard of the frame rails with 3-inch NH male threads.
  • One rear 2½-inch at the same height, centered between the 3-inch discharges.
  • Run the rear discharges as straight as possible to minimize friction loss.
  • Rear discharges will preconnect to some/all hose in the beds 66 inches from the ground.
  • Rear discharge and suction piping with IPT threads to transition to NH behind rear panels.
  • One 2½-inch to swiveling elbow above the RHS front bumper extension.
Hose Storage Areas
  • Open center trough in front bumper extension for four 50-foot donut rolls of 1¾-inch.
  • One at the rear for a minimum 1,000 feet of 5-inch large-diameter hose (LDH).
  • Two at the rear for 200 feet each of 1¾-inch; maximum 66 inches from the ground to the bottom.
  • One at the rear for 200 feet of 2½-inch; maximum 66 inches from the ground to the bottom.
  • One at the rear for 200 feet of 3-inch; maximum 66 inches from the ground to the bottom.
  • Storage area for 400 feet of 3-inch.
  • Storage area for 400 feet of 2½-inch.
  • Storage area for 400 feet of 1¾-inch.
  • Minimum 16-inch-wide walkway adjacent to the LDH bed.
Ladders and Pike Poles
  • One each 35-foot and 28-foot two-section extension ladders.
  • Two each 16-foot and 20-foot roof ladders; hooks on both ends.
  • One each 14-foot combination and 10-foot folding ladders.
  • Enclosed storage for one Little Giant Model M17 Defender Firefighter Ladder.
  • Extension and roof ladders stored vertically on one beam no higher than 60 inches from the ground.
  • Roof ladders must be removable without removing extension ladders.
  • Stowed ladders are not to extend beyond the tailboard.
  • One each 4-, 6-, 8-, and 10-foot pike poles.
  • Two 12-foot pike poles (defer to the OEM to locate).
Generator and Cord Reels
  • Minimum 6-kW hydraulic generator.
  • One electric rewind reel each side with 200 feet of 12/3 cable each (defer to OEM to locate).
Rear Step Compartment
  • Vinyl pull-down cover over opening with hook-and-loop fasteners or snaps (no door).
  • Slide-out tray on floor for four 25-foot lengths of 5-inch LDH in donut rolls or packed separated by dividers, whichever has the lowest OAH.
  • One adjustable slide-out tray above the hose storage tray.
Exterior Side Compartmentation
  • Defer to the manufacturer to propose maximum compartmentation; all with shutter doors.
  • Two vertical slide-out tool boards not in the same compartment; each to accommodate one self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and a spare bottle in walkaway brackets on one side and tool mounting on the other.
  • Four individual areas or removable cubbies for one SCBA and one spare bottle each, not in the same compartment and not all on the same side of the apparatus.
  • Six individual areas or removable cubbies for one leather fire helmet; locate near each SCBA and spare bottle storage area.
  • Separate compartment or enclosed area within a compartment for one gas-powered cut-off saw, chain saw, 2,200-watt combination generator/LED light, and two 2½-gallon gas cans.
  • Enclosed storage for one full and one half-size backboard and one stokes basket.
  • Enclosed storage for four portable 120-volt LED flood lights.
  • Enclosed storage for two manual rewind cord reels with 100 feet of 12/3 cable.
  • Enclosed storage for one 16-inch smoke ejector on each side.
  • Enclosed storage for a 1,250-gpm portable monitor with a 5-inch Storz inlet.
  • One compartment or area within a compartment for two 40-inch-wide by frame rail depth 250-pound slide-out trays, fully adjustable from floor to 30-inch level (for the pump operator).
  • Two vertically hinged swing-out tool boards, the bottoms no lower than 48 inches from the ground.
  • All steps including slide-outs to have open grip-strut surface.
  • No SCBA, helmet, or firematic equipment storage in the cab.
  • Only EMS equipment storage allowed in the cab.
Miscellaneous
  • FoamPro 2002 Foam System with 30-gallon Class A foam tank (defer to OEM to locate).
  • Storage for a 6-foot 120-volt LED tripod light.
  • Minimum of 40 feet of 6-inch lightweight flexible suction hose with 6-inch NH LHF and male threads (defer to OEM to locate).
  • Rear hosebed access steps staggered (not vertically aligned), minimum 8 × 14 inches, with integral handhold and LED light.
  • 24-inch-wide rear slide-out step each side outboard of the rear step compartment.
  • Extend the main hosebed flooring 6 inches beyond the rear body panel.
  • 8-inch-deep intermediate step above the rear discharges.
  • 500-gpm ground monitor with cover mounted at the rear.
  • Minimum 1-inch red reflective tape outlining the body and pump house; between compartment doors, inside the rub rails; and on the front lips of all shelves, steps, trays, and visible tray/step sides when extended.
  • 4-inch horizontal lime-green reflective stripe on the front bumper and each side of the cab and body, including the pump house, centered about 48 inches from the ground.
  • Red reflective lettering on the body, white on the cab.
  • Calling for right-of-way warning lights to automatically shut down when in “park” and separate amber blocking right-of-way lights to activate.

Part 3 will explain how dealers and OEMs can address the PL design with input from component part manufacturers. Reminder: There is no intent to disparage the value of any aerial device. This article is meant to present an alternative for fire departments that can’t afford a real ladder truck.


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.

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