Charlotte (MI) Fire Department Specs Out Pumper-Tanker-Aerial Fire Apparatus


By Alan M. Petrillo

The Charlotte (MI) Fire Department covers the city of Charlotte, three other townships, and portions of two others with a combination department of six full time paid firefighters and 29 volunteers working out of two stations. Its district is a mix of structures in city, suburban, and rural landscapes, including multifamily dwellings, senior assistance living centers, a courthouse and municipal buildings, and some industrial areas.

The district has a couple of small rivers in it, but of greater concern to the fire department are the miles of highways and a railroad that run through the 154-square mile fire district. The department wanted a vehicle to replace an articulated boom apparatus where three disciplines—pumper, tanker, and aerial—were combined into a single vehicle.

“Our stations are on either side of the railroad tracks, and we wanted a pumper-tanker-aerial to be able to respond on each side of the tracks,” says Tyger Fullerton, Charlotte’s assistant chief. “We have a 1988 General Safety 65-foot TeleSqurt with a 2,000-gpm pump and a 2,000-gallon water tank on one side and needed to replace a 1977 Snorkel on the other. We replaced it with a Spencer Manufacturing pumper-tanker on a Spartan Gladiator four-door chassis with a 68-foot RK Aerials aerial ladder and waterway carrying a 1,000-gpm pump and a 2,000-gallon APR water tank.”

Charlotte Fire Department also runs two Rosenbauer/Spartan rescuepumpers, each carrying a 1,000-gpm pump and a 1,000-gallon water tank and two mini pumpers—a Ford F-650 unit with a 250-gpm skid pump, 250-gallon water tank, and extrication tools for EMS responses and a Ford F-250 mini with a 250-gpm skid unit and a 250-gallon water tank.

Grant Spencer, the general manager of Spencer Manufacturing, says the Charlotte Fire Department is a new customer for Spencer, but that he was acquainted with the organization as it shares a driveway with Spartan Motors. “The fire department was very clear about what it wanted,” Spencer notes. “They wanted a truck with 2,000 gallons of water, a 1,000-gpm Waterous CSU pump, a 68-foot RK Aerials stick, and a 1,000-gpm monitor. We gave them everything they asked for.”

The Spencer pumper-tanker-aerial is powered by a Cummins 500-hp ISX12 engine and an Allison 4000 EVS automatic transmission. It has maximized compartment space with pull-out steps and pull-out trays to carry saws, vent fans, extra SCBA, and spare SCBA bottles, says Fullerton. “We even are able to carry a Salamander heater that we use for rehabbing firefighters in cold weather,” he adds.

The new rig has four crosslays and all-backlit gauges, Spencer points out, as well as a 6-kW Onan diesel generator, Whelen LED warning lights and LED scene lights, FRC Spectra telescoping lights, ROM LED compartment lights, and a Hannay electric cord reel off the rear of the vehicle. Price of the vehicle without equipment was $680,000.

Fullerton points out that the vehicle’s aerial is used mostly as a water tower, although firefighters did use the stick to rescue a young girl stuck in a tree 40 feet off the ground. “The pumper-tanker-aerial has performed great for us,” Fullerton says. “Within a month of putting it in service we had several fires in windy conditions with negative temperatures that gave the truck a workout, but it performed very well.”

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and 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.

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