New Jersey Department Designs Low-Height, Heavy Rescue Fire Truck


By Alan M. Petrillo

The Totowa (NJ) Fire Department was looking to purchase a new heavy rescue truck, but had an issue with low-height fire apparatus bay doors at the station where the rescue would be housed. But by talking with a representative from Rescue 1, the department was able to get a stock fire truck similar to what it wanted brought to the station, backed into a bay to clear the overhead, and fit securely in the apparatus bay.

“Our rescue building is limited in size,” says Totowa Fire Department chief Vinny Marsciano. “The demo unit that Rescue 1 brought to us fit into our firehouse, but we were limited to going with a commercial cab because a custom cab rescue would not fit.”

Mike Marquis, Rescue 1’s vice president of national sales, says the demo unit was the right height, length, and configuration for what Totowa was seeking. “That kind of rescue fit their budget, so we worked with them on a purchasing program,” he says. “After the department went out to bid for the truck, we were the low bidder and were awarded the bid in 2014. We delivered the rescue in February of 2015.”

The resulting heavy rescue is built on an International 4300 four-door cab and chassis with seating for five firefighters, powered by a 315-horsepower MaxxForce 9 diesel engine, and an Allison 3000 EVS 6-speed transmission. “Besides the issue of fitting under the bay doors,” Marquis points out, “the commercial chassis and cab is less expensive than a customer chassis and cab by around $50,000.”

Overall height on the heavy rescue is nine feet, eight inches, overall length is 30 feet, six inches, overall width is 104 inches, and wheelbase is 229 inches. Aft of the crew area, Rescue 1 built a 16-foot long walk-around rescue body that carries full depth and height compartments, a Will-Burt Night Scan light tower with FRC Optimum 1,500-lumen LED light heads, and an Onan 35-kW generator. Commenting about the large size generator, Marquis notes that “the footprint on the 35-kW generator is about the same as a 25-kW model, but the larger size sets the department up well for future electrical expansion on the rescue.”

Marquis observes that a commercial chassis and cab rescue truck in the Northeast is an anomaly. “The Northeast market is 85 to 90 percent custom chassis and cabs,” he says, “not commercial. But in this case, the International commercial chassis was the correct choice for the department.” Price on the heavy rescue was $325,000.

Marsciano says Totowa covers two square miles and its boundaries touch on neighboring towns of Patterson, Clifton, and Passaic, to whom they provide and receive mutual aid. The Totowa Fire Department has four stations that house three engines, a ladder and the rescue, responding to an average of 400 calls a year. “We wanted to make sure the rescue truck could handle anything,” he says. “We carry a dozen spare self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) bottles in sleeves in one compartment, have a 200-foot electric cord reel in a transverse compartment, and have our Hurst tools of a spreader, cutter, combination tool, two power units, and two 100-foot hydraulic reels housed preconnected in the rear driver’s and officer’s side compartments.

Marquis says that the heavy rescue has two large coffin compartments on top, separated by a generous-size walkway, accessed from the ground by a Zico folding ladder at the rear of the vehicle. “One of the coffins is 120 inches long while the other is 103 inches,” he says. “Both are 25 inches wide and 19 inches deep, and one is set up to hold backboards and Stokes basket. The other has dividers in it for ropes and water rescue equipment.”

The heavy rescue’s body compartments are covered by ROM roll-up doors, and the body has five FRC Optimum 1,500-watt quartz lights, two on each side and one at the rear. A Whelen Pioneer brow light is built into the Whelen light bar, Whelen emergency lighting is set around the body, and there are three winch receivers (one each side and one at the rear) for a Warn 9,000-pound portable winch.

Marquis says that the Totowa Fire Department took delivery of the heavy rescue without having Rescue 1 do any tool mounting. “We installed a series of slide-out and pull-out trays, and tool boards for them,” he says, “but the firefighters handled the tool mounting themselves.”

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist 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.

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