Fire Department Buys First Aerial to Address Emerging Needs

The Verdoy Fire Department turned to Sutphen Corp. for the purchase of its first aerial—this Sutphen 75-foot quint.
The Verdoy Fire Department turned to Sutphen Corp. for the purchase of its first aerial—this Sutphen 75-foot quint. (Photos courtesy of the Verdoy Fire Department.)
The Sutphen quint for Verdoy sports a pull-out tray at the rear that holds a Hannay electric reel, fans, and electrical equipment, making the gear accessible from either side of the apparatus.
The Sutphen quint for Verdoy sports a pull-out tray at the rear that holds a Hannay electric reel, fans, and electrical equipment, making the gear accessible from either side of the apparatus.
The quint that Sutphen built for the Verdoy Fire Department carries a 75-foot aerial and uses two ladder jacks in the center of the apparatus.
The quint that Sutphen built for the Verdoy Fire Department carries a 75-foot aerial and uses two ladder jacks in the center of the apparatus.
The pump operator’s compartment on the Sutphen quint also contains the main electrical panel.
The pump operator’s compartment on the Sutphen quint also contains the main electrical panel.

Faced with the prospect of protecting not only an existing number of high-life-hazard multistory structures but also future high-rise hotel and commercial buildings, the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department took a massive step forward in department growth by purchasing its first aerial apparatus.

Formerly an all-engine and rescue fire department, Verdoy, located in Latham, New York, put together dual committees to assess the department’s aerial needs and to identify the types of apparatus that fit those requirements. The end result was the purchase of a Sutphen quint, with a 75-foot midmount aerial, a 2,000-gpm Hale Qmax pump, and a 500-gallon water tank.

Eleven members served on the apparatus committee and its two subcommittees on trends and apparatus, analyzing changes in the district and estimating what future growth would call for in terms of fire service, as well as the kinds of apparatus available to meet the department’s needs.

Until it purchased the Sutphen quint, Verdoy relied on mutual aid for truck companies from surrounding volunteer departments on all structure fire and alarm drop calls, says Gregory Serio, Verdoy’s chief and a firefighter for 20 years.

The truck committee reviewed the department’s mutual-aid aerial responses from 2006 to 2009 from four mutual-aid fire departments, assessed the average time it took for the aerial to respond and arrive on the scene, and noted the number of calls where the mutual-aid aerial failed to respond.

In the end, the committee decided to go with a quint instead of a straight ladder or platform for several reasons, Serio notes.

“First was the issue facing all fire departments these days—that of doing more with less,” Serio says. “We also considered the strategy and tactics decision of getting an aerial in front of the building as the first piece in and evaluated the nature of the exposures in our district that could be managed by a quint. We also looked at what we needed to respond to a basic structure or alarm drop call. We asked ourselves, Why put additional rigs on the road when we could handle it with one piece of apparatus?”

Serio says the department also thought that, by purchasing a multipurpose piece of apparatus, it could reduce the wear and tear on firefighters as well as on its mutual-aid response departments.

“We found a single company would be able to handle the vast majority of our fire calls,” Serio says. “And, we learned that a quint wasn’t nearly as expensive as a truck, and it’s still basically an engine, so we could easily integrate the aerial into our department.”

The department drew specs, and bids went out in June 2010. Because Verdoy’s apparatus are housed in a station only 10 years old and designed to hold a truck company, there was no need to custom-build an apparatus, so the department decided to purchase an already-built quint.

“We felt it would be better for us to adapt to the piece rather than adapt the apparatus to us,” Serio points out.

Bidders on the Verdoy specs included Sutphen, KME Fire Apparatus, Pierce Manufacturing, Ferrara Fire Apparatus, E-ONE, and Smeal Fire Apparatus.

“The bidders came back with multiple quints, already built and available to us,” Serio says. “All were single-axle 75-footers.”

Verdoy decided on the Sutphen quint, Serio says, for a couple of reasons. The vehicle had a higher horsepower engine, which would work to the department’s advantage in the hilly areas of its district, and it was a midmount.

“The Sutphen rode and drove most like an engine,” Serio notes. “Also, with the midmount, the operator could run the pump and the aerial from the same location.”

Philip Vander Mollen, the Sutphen distributor for the area, says the department made a “good, conservative decision in transitioning from a pumper and rescue department to one that includes an aerial device.”

Vander Mollen notes, “They wanted a vehicle that felt, handled, and drove like a pumper; wasn’t top-heavy; and didn’t have a basket hanging out in the front.”

He adds that because an aerial was new to the department, there was some concern among firefighters about the stability of the aerial when climbing it.

“They noticed right away that when they climbed our ladder at 35 to 40 degrees extension, it didn’t move,” Vander Mollen says. “Also, the 75-foot length reached everything in their district that they wanted to get to. But the stability really impressed them.”

Elliot Friedman, a 33-year firefighter with the department, says that while he initially didn’t agree with the need for an aerial, he has become very comfortable with operating and using the quint.

The quint is designated Engine 450, yet it shows its utility as to what it can do as a ladder on mutual-aid and alarm-drop calls, Friedman notes. He says the younger firefighters have taken to the aerial right away, while older, more experienced members are still getting used to operating with an aerial.

While the Sutphen quint hasn’t been used on any live structure fire calls yet, it has been to a number of mutual-aid fires in the past six months, Serio points out.

“We’ve also used it on a couple of rooftop HVAC unit calls and other roof operations where the ladder has come in very handy,” Serio says. “Plus, we do a lot of three-season training on the aerial.”

In addition to a full complement of ground ladders and 1,200 feet of four-inch large-diameter hose, the quint also has a Smart Power eight-kilowatt generator and a rear slide-out tray, holding a Hannay electric reel, fans, and lights, allowing deployment from either side of the vehicle.

The quint also carries basic EMS equipment, an automatic external defibrillator, four gas meters, a Partner 970 rotary saw with a full complement of rotary blades, and a Cutters Edge saw with a bullet chain. It also has a full complement of portable lighting, chimney equipment, hand tools, roof tools, and electrical adapters.

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based freelance writer. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.


Verdoy Fire Department, Latham, New York

Strength: 37 volunteer firefighters; one station; providing fire suppression, vehicle rescue, water rescue, and first responder EMS protection.

Service area: mostly suburban covering the northern part of the town of Colonie, Albany County, with a mix of suburban residential, light commercial, and industrial development, plus a maximum security county jail, a juvenile correctional facility, an international airport, a five-story nursing home, and town water and sewer treatment plants. Population of the fire district is 8,000 in 2,600 households.

Other apparatus: 2004 Crimson pumper, 2,000-gpm pump, 750-gallon tank; 1991 Saulsbury rescue pumper, 2,000-gpm pump, 500-gallon tank; 2001 Elmonte rescue squad on Ford F-550 chassis with custom walk-in box and SCBA for four firefighters; 2006 Harbor Guard 26-foot rescue/fire boat with two rescue platforms, 1,250-gpm Hale pump, and 1,250-gpm monitor; Zodiac with Johnson 85-hp outboard motor; four command vehicles; and two utility pickup trucks.


Sutphen 75-Foot Aerial Quint for Verdoy Fire Department

• Sutphen Monarch chassis

• Sutphen Monarch heavy-duty medium-length cab with full 10-inch raised roof in crew area

• Sutphen 304 stainless steel body and subframe

• Cummins ISM 500-hp diesel engine

• SL75 model heavy duty huck-bolted aluminum aerial

• 1,000-pound tip load dry, 750-pound tip load wet

• Two midship outriggers

• Two 1¾-inch attack lines of 150 and 200 feet

• One two-inch attack line of 200 feet

• One 35-foot, three-section extension ladder

• One 24-foot, two-section extension ladder

• One 16-foot roof ladder

• One collapsible attic ladder

• Smart Power eight-kilowatt hydraulic generator

• Rear slide-out electric supply tray with Hannay reel and space for lights and fans

• Whelen PFP2 LED 12-volt brow and side scene lights

Price without equipment: $604,519.

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