Islip Terrace (NY) Seagrave Heavy Rescue

Bob Vaccaro shares some fire apparatus ideas from the Islip Terrace (NY) Fire Department.

Apparatus ideas |

The Islip Terrace Fire Department began in 1916 when it operated its first piece of fire apparatus. That apparatus was a horse-drawn hose wagon that was a gift from the neighboring Islip Fire Department.

At that time, the department was known as the Germantown Hose Company. It wasn’t until 1919 that it got its second piece, a horse-drawn farm wagon that carried buckets. In 1921, that wagon was replaced with a new chemical truck complete with hose and Indian tanks; however, it was known to get stuck a lot and was recalled. In 1924, the name was changed to the Islip Terrace Fire Department, and newer equipment prevailed through the years.

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The past several years, the department has transitioned to a newer fleet. According to Ex Chief Frank Cuoco, who was the apparatus committee chairman, “Like most departments in the area, we try to replace our apparatus every 20 to 25 years based on our budget for our fire district.”

“When we form our committees, we like to get experienced people onboard. We chose our district manager, our district mechanic, one of our ex chiefs who is a diesel mechanic, and one of our fire commissioners. All had mechanical backgrounds and worked well together during the planning stages of our new heavy rescue,” Cuoco adds.

“The basic idea was for the committee to make a major commitment to design a functional vehicle to serve our fire district well into the future. It took the committee around a year and a half to finalize what we wanted. The committee looked at other new heavy rescue deliveries in the immediate area and made a list of likes and dislikes. The truck we designed was to be a basic heavy rescue, not a technical rescue. We wanted the vehicle to have more compartment space than our older unit and wanted it to have more space for future needs,” Cuoco says. “Also, a concern was that we wanted the rescue to be a walk-around as opposed to a walk-in box like we had with our previous vehicle.”

The Marauder heavy rescue.

 The Marauder heavy rescue. (Photos by author.)

Flip-up rear stairs with added storage.

 Flip-up rear stairs with added storage.

Driver-side compartments: battery-powered hand tools, HURST eDRAULIC® tool and accessories, air bags, and forcible entry tools.

  Driver-side compartments: battery-powered hand tools, HURST eDRAULIC® tool and accessories, air bags, and forcible entry tools.

Officer-side compartments: HURST hydraulic tool with hydraulic reels, saws, Stokes basket, and portable lighting.

 Officer-side compartments: HURST hydraulic tool with hydraulic reels, saws, Stokes basket, and portable lighting.

Although the rig still had to go out for bid, the department had previously purchased two pumpers from Seagrave and liked the cab space as well as the entire truck being constructed of stainless steel. Another consideration was standardizing the fleet to make it easier for training and all-around familiarization for the members. After the committee finalized the specs, they were presented to the board of fire commissioners and the rig went out to bid.

“Lucky for us, Seagrave won the bid and met all of our specs. The local Seagrave dealer, RVI, is only 15 minutes from our fire district, which is a big plus. We have dealt with them before for our previous two pumper purchases and are happy with their service,” Cuoco adds.

“The vehicle turned out well for us. An improvement we made on this build was that we had a 9,000-pound Warn winch installed with four receiver points. Previously, we could only use the front of the vehicle for winch use,” he continues. “More compartment space was a priority; this truck is a little longer than our previous rescue. We installed a 15-kW hydraulic generator, not a PTO-driven generator that was on our previous vehicle. We can move the truck around with the generator operating this time around. Also installed were LED lights for warning and scene lights that draw a great deal less power when the truck is being used.”

The committee visited the Seagrave factory during the final inspection and was impressed with the operation. The heavy rescue was totally built by Seagrave, including the cab and rescue body, “which was great for us since we didn’t have to work with multiple manufacturers,” Cuoco says.

The department did its homework, designing a highly functional heavy rescue to meet the fire district’s needs. The apparatus committee comprised members with mechanical backgrounds who also served in a different capacity within the department.

The department took previous ideas from its older rescue and improved on them when this vehicle was designed and built and standardized the fleet with one manufacturer. This will make it easier for training and operation as well as maintenance issues.

Consider taking your time and not rushing through the spec and design process. Not having too many people on your apparatus committee and picking the right people to be on that committee are always helpful. Sometimes too many people with many different ideas often clash with each other and will affect the end result.

Finally, always plan for the future, especially when it comes to added compartment space. You never know what you might need to carry in the future.


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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