Multipurpose Unit Satisfies West Virginia Department’s Needs

(1) The Summersville (WV) Fire Department turned to Pierce Manufacturing for this rescue-pumper, a Pierce PUC wildland urban interface unit (WUI) with a 162-inch wheelbase.
(1) The Summersville (WV) Fire Department turned to Pierce Manufacturing for this rescue-pumper, a Pierce PUC wildland urban interface unit (WUI) with a 162-inch wheelbase. (Photo courtesy of Pierce Manufacturing.)
(2) Summersville Fire Department went with the Pierce PUC WUI vehicle because it provided full compartmentation on a smaller wheelbase.
(2) Summersville Fire Department went with the Pierce PUC WUI vehicle because it provided full compartmentation on a smaller wheelbase. (Photo courtesy of Summersville Fire Department.)
(3) One of the modifications the Summersville Fire Department sought from Pierce was adding booster reel carrying 100 feet of one-inch hose in a compartment in the rear of the unit.
(3) One of the modifications the Summersville Fire Department sought from Pierce was adding booster reel carrying 100 feet of one-inch hose in a compartment in the rear of the unit. (Photo courtesy of the Summersville Fire Department.)
(4) The Summersville Fire Department carries specialized rescue equipment in coffin compartments at the top of its rescue-pumper.
(4) The Summersville Fire Department carries specialized rescue equipment in coffin compartments at the top of its rescue-pumper. (Photo courtesy of the Summersville Fire Department.)

The Summersville (WV) Fire Department has a widespread fire district that covers 99 square miles of rural territory, including a large lake; a whitewater river; and State Highway 19, a four-lane freeway that cuts through the heart of its coverage area.

The department recently replaced its aging 1970 GMC engine with a rescue-pumper because of the many vehicle crashes and fires to which the department responds. It took many months of negotiation among the five firefighters on the truck committee, Chief Rodney Snodgress, and the Summersville city council before the department purchased a Pierce Manufacturing Pierce Ultimate Configuration (PUC) wildland urban interface (WUI) unit to serve as Rescue 1.

“We had a five-person committee in the department start looking at the options available and, after a lot of research and discussion, it came to an agreement about what we needed and our financial constraints,” says Captain Ricky McCutcheon, a 37-year veteran. “We considered both used and new vehicles. But by the time we finished all our discussions, we decided to go with a new vehicle that could do two things: be a rescue and a pumper.” McCutcheon says the chief and the committee presented their recommendations to the city council and got the okay to proceed with a rescue-pumper.

Familiar Territory

The department had dealt with Pierce Manufacturing in the past, already running a 1999 Pierce International pumper and a 1994 Pierce Saber pumper out of its single station, so the committee contacted Jody Beckett, a sales representative at Finley Fire Equipment, Pierce’s distributor in the area. Beckett pointed the department toward a PUC WUI unit demonstration vehicle that carries a Pierce PUC 1,500-gallon-per-mionute (gpm) pump and a 500-gallon water tank with an integral 30-gallon foam cell. “Pierce sent us photographs and a video of the truck,” says McCutcheon. “The video was a walk-around of the vehicle, showing all the compartments, the interior of the cab, the hosebed, the whole truck. We could see that it met our needs.”

Beckett says the truck committee was a little concerned about the 500-gallon water tank on the PUC but ultimately accepted it because a larger water tank would have meant fewer full-depth compartments on the vehicle, something that was a major need for the department because the PUC would run mainly as a rescue unit.

“We added some rescue equipment on the truck for them, including a Smart Power XRT 10-kW generator that also powers the vehicle’s hydraulic tools,” Beckett says. “They run a lot of rescue calls on that four-lane highway, so they’re able to use this PUC as a first-out engine that can handle a vehicle wreck or fire or both.”

McCutcheon notes that the department also had Pierce add automatic drop-down tire chains to the PUC WUI unit as well as pull-out and drop down shelving in the middle compartments, a 100-foot reel of one-inch booster hose at the rear of the truck, and an additional scene light over the front light bar. The department took delivery of the vehicle in August 2011.

Wildland Capabilities

Chad Trinkner, marketing manager of aerials, pumpers, and fire suppression for Pierce, says the pump-and-roll feature on the PUC WUI unit was especially attractive to the firefighters in Summersville. “They wanted the flexibility of both on-road and off-road applications,” Trinkner says. “With the WUI vehicle, it can be the first-out engine when needed, including EMS, but also go off road with the pump-and-roll capability.” He adds that this vehicle was the first time Pierce had classified a custom cab as a wildland unit, packaging the exhaust and ladders to fit within the wildland wheelbase envelope of 162 inches and still have the compartmentation required by the department. “It took less than five months from when they first approached us to the delivery date,” Trinkner points out.

Making the Right Call

McCutcheon is especially impressed with the maneuverability of the PUC WUI unit. “The vehicle has a very tight turning radius,” he says. “With its 45-degree cramp angle and 162-inch wheelbase, it will turn like nothing I’ve ever driven, and I’ve driven fire trucks for 37 years.”

McCutcheon says the department is confident it made the right decision going with the Pierce PUC. “There was no way we were going to be able to buy two trucks, so we had to go with a multipurpose vehicle,” he says. “This one is short and sweet, able to get us into tight places, and also gives us a built-in foam capability that we didn’t have before.”

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based freelance writer and is 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.


Summersville (WV) Fire Department

Strength: 25 volunteer firefighters, one station, providing fire suppression and rescue.

Service area: Sparsely populated rural area covering 99 square miles with a total population of approximately 5,300. A major four-lane state highway cuts through the heart of the fire district in Nicholas County.

Other apparatus: 1999 Pierce International Freightliner pumper, 1,250-gpm pump, 1,000-gallon water tank; 1994 Pierce Saber pumper, 1,250-gpm pump, 750-gallon water tank; 2003 KME 100-foot aerial platform, 2,000-gpm pump, 300-gallon water tank; 1990 International tanker, 250-gpm pump, 1,850-gallon water tank; 2008 GMC mini-rescue vehicle carrying hydraulic extrication tools; 1991 Chevrolet utility pickup carrying two portable pumps, hose, and tools to establish a rural water supply.


Pierce PUC Wildland Urban Interface Unit

  • 2011 Pierce Arrow XT chassis with six-person cab and aluminum body
  • TAK-4 suspension
  • 162-inch wheelbase
  • Cummins ISL9 450-hp diesel engine
  • Allison 3000 transmission with retarder
  • Side roll and front air bag protection
  • Pierce PUC 1,500-gpm pump
  • 500-gallon water tank with integral 30-gallon foam cell
  • Husky 3 foam system
  • Pump-and-roll capability
  • Low crosslay heights
  • All Akron valves
  • Smart Power XRT 10-kW generator
  • Command Zone advanced multiplex electrical system
  • Whelen LED light package
  • 209.75 cubic feet of compartment space
  • Hatch compartments for additional storage
    Price without equipment: $530,000

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