KME Severe Service Pumper Makes Debut On East Coast

Fairview Fire District's 2008 KME Severe Service pumper is designed for high volume use in extreme conditions with low operational costs and easy maintenance.
Fairview Fire District’s 2008 KME Severe Service pumper is designed for high volume use in extreme conditions with low operational costs and easy maintenance.

KME’s Severe Service engines were designed to give Los Angeles County 20 years of low maintenance reliability. The fall 2008 delivery to the Fairview Fire District in Greenburgh, N.Y., is the first adaptation of the Severe Service pumper design for the northeastern use.

Fairview Fire District Captain Harry Stone said his KME warranty representative, Russ Sandberg at Ruscon Truck Service in Congers, N.Y., heavily influenced the department’s decision to purchase the KME for $436,723 to replace a 1992 Pierce.

“He was telling me about this Severe Service truck LAC put together about three years ago,” Stone recalled. “So I started looking into it. We have a couple of KMEs and have had pretty good luck with them. Our trucks are on the road a lot, so they take a pretty good beating. I got a chance to see one displayed at FDIC, and it appeared to be a bullet-proof truck.”

KME describes its Severe Service pumper as the solution for departments with high volume use in extreme conditions, offering low operational costs, easy maintenance and quick delivery times.

Fairview was looking for an apparatus that would provide longevity with low maintenance demands and costs.

“Maintenance was the key for me as the mechanical officer,” said Stone. “Number one, their factory is close, only 2.5 hours from here in Nesquehoning, Pa. Two, their local warranty rep, Russ Sandberg, is awesome. Any time we call Ruscon for any of our KMEs, they’re on it immediately. If they can’t handle it, it goes right back to the factory.”

Sandberg, who has been in the fire truck business for 35 years, said the KME Severe Service pumper was designed with field serviceability in mind. For example, he pointed to the accessibility of the optional air suspension selected by Fairview.

“Rear air suspension has been in use for commercial over-the-road applications for a long time, but not so much for fire apparatus,” he said. “With the air bag suspension, we can get a truck in and out in a few hours time by replacing a blown air bag. Compare this to the time it takes two technicians to replace large rear leaf springs.”

He described the Fairview Fire District as a heavy-call outfit that would be ideal for trying out air suspension and seeing how much extra in-service time the department could get out of the truck.

KME’s Severe Service pumper uses dual steering gears to improve longevity. “They don’t use a steering box and an assist cylinder,” Sandberg said. “I’ve been in the heavy truck business for 50 years, and I like to see dual steering gears, one on each frame rail.”

Many manufacturers, he said, use one steering box on the left side and a steering assist cylinder on the right. “Over the years we see the steering assist cylinder begin to leak, and it doesn’t give as good steering assist as do dual steering gears,” he said. “The result is poor performance and increased maintenance. KME makes dual steering boxes available on its complete line as an option.”

Pump access, according to Sandberg, is another example of KME’s improved serviceability. “With this particular truck, when you tip the cab, you have two access doors off the front of the pump box,” he said. “They come off in about five seconds or less, and you can access most of the valving in the pump compartment. There are other trucks on the market that take us five, six or seven hours, drilling off broken screws, to get pump panels off to access the compartment.”

While Fairview firefighters liked many of KME’s Severe Service features, they made some changes from the pumper designed by Los Angeles County to adapt it to their region of the country.

“Fairview wanted a short, maneuverable, user-friendly truck with a low hose bed and low access for the firefighters,” recalled Bill McGuffey, who sold the apparatus. He is the president of William H. McGuffey, Inc., Tuxedo, N.Y. “This KME Extreme Service is built heavy-duty to provide extended service and minimal maintenance. In L.A. County they anticipate 150,000 to 200,000 miles on their apparatus.”

He said a locker compartment was removed to shorten the Fairview rig, and it has a stainless steel body, rather than galvanized.

“Our weather conditions are harder than Los Angeles County’s, so we won’t get the kind of longevity they do,” Stone said. “We have to contend with salt, calcium and everything else they spray on winter roads.”

Stone describes the new truck as one that is “built to be used hard, and that’s what we do.”

While Los Angeles County ordered Caterpillar engines, Fairview went with Cummins and an Allison 4000 transmission. “Cummins got a pass from the feds on the new diesel particulate filters that are required,” Stone said. “So you could still get a big-block, high-horsepower motor without having to go for an additional $12,000 and that nightmare filter.”

Among other modifications Fairview made to the Los Angeles Severe Service pumper specifications are the addition of a Zico hydraulic ladder rack and high side compartments with unpainted aluminum R-O-M roll-up doors.

Another change was designed to reduce downtime. “We ordered it non-mulitplexed, unlike what Los Angeles County required,” Stone said. “We wanted to keep the electronics and computers to a minimum. It seems like that’s where the whole fire service industry is having problems.”

The only real computers on the Fairview truck, according to Stone, are for the FoamPro injection system and the engine. “We aerate the foam on the other end ourselves with an automatic nozzle,” he said. “It’s simple for us. You have a water pump and a foam pump. The foam pump injects whatever percent you punch in. It’s a very simple hydraulic system driven by pto.”

Sandberg, the Ruscon KME warranty representative, helped Fairview on the mechanical side, including specification recommendations for the alternator.

“The specs might call for a 200-amp alternator, but one manufacturer might supply an alternator that puts out 200 amps with the engine running at 1,100 rpms and another manufacturer gets the same amps, but at 3,000 rpms,” he said. “The rotor of an alternator lasts much longer if it puts out its rated amperage at lower speeds.”

In addition to assisting with specifications, Ruscon checked fluid levels and lubricated the KME pumper before it was delivered to Fairview. “We like to check every item like drive line bolts so you know it’s been double checked from the factory before delivery,” Sandberg said. “It’s all part of our preventative maintenance program that we’ve offered for 35 years.”

The KME was delivered to Fairview in late September and went into service in December.

Sandberg handled the training, spending two full days with the crews. “This is a very simple truck to operate because of the way the pump panel is laid out,” he said. “Every gauge is directly over its respective operating control handle.”

Fairview Fire District Chief Robert Mauro said he likes the KME. “I agree with my firefighters who think this is a solid working truck, designed by firefighters for firefighters,” he said. “While we may not get the 20 years of service Los Angeles County expects, I think it’s reasonable to expect 12 to 15 years.”

Bill McGuffey from William H. McGuffey, Inc., in Tuxedo, N.Y., was the sales representative. He can be contacted at 914-753-9808.

 2008 KME Predator Severe Service Pumper


  • 165-inch wheelbase
  • 114-inch travel height
  • 27.58-foot travel length
  • 96-inch width
  • Chassis
  • 18,740-pound front axle
  • 24,000-pound rear axle
  • Cummins ISM 435 horsepower engine
  • Allison EVSR 4000 transmission
  • Meritor, Model EX-225 17-inch front disc brakes with automatic slack adjusters
  • Meritor Q Plus, cam-operated, 16.5-inch x 8.6-inch rear brakes
  • Air ride suspension
  • Meritor Roll Stability Control system


  • Predator Flat Roof Severe Service 4-door tilt cab
  • 304L stainless steel
  • 6 seats, 4 doors
  • Unpainted stainless steel body compartment interior

Pumping Features

  • Hale Qmax 2,000-gpm single stage pump
  • Hinged pump panel for service access
  • LED back-lighted gauges
  • TFT deck gun
  • 500-gallon tank
  • 25-gallom foam tank (Type A)
  • FoamPro 3012 pto-driven system
  • Intakes: 6-inch and 2.5-inch on each side
  • Discharges: two rear 2.5-inch; three 1.75-inch crosslays; officer’s side 4-inch LDH

Other Features

  • Harrison 10 kilowatt generator
  • R-O-M roll-up doors
  • Knight-2 KL-450 Command Light Tower
  • Zico hydraulic ladder rack
  • PAC Trac tool mounting panels
  • Amdor LED compartment lights
  • Whelen LED light package
  • Hose: 600 feet of 1.75-inch; 800 feet of 2.5-inch; 1300 feet of 4-inch
  • Storage compartment under officer’s side door
  • Hose storage well on officer’s side
  • Wheel well SCBA pockets
  • 24-foot and 14-foot Duo-Safety ladders

Price: $436,723

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