special Delivery | Alan M. Petrillo
The Parshall (ND) Rural Fire Protection District covers a lot of territory—about 400 square miles in parts of North Dakota’s McLean and Mountrail Counties, including the city of Parshall, but with most of its coverage area not served by pressurized water systems.
When the department decided to replace its oldest pumper, it chose to spec a pumper-tanker that could handle fire suppression as well as serve as a large source of water wherever needed.
Kurt Clemensen, Parshall Rural Fire Protection District chief, says the fire district is located on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in Mountrail County and on the eastern border of the Parshall Oil Field. “Our district is very rural,” Clemensen observes, “and while the city of Parshall has a mix of commercial and residential structures and a hydrant system, and some rural water systems have a few hydrants, most of the area we cover does not, which means we have to haul water with us or get it out at the scene from static sources.”
Types of structures and facilities in the department’s coverage area include multiple petroleum storage tank farms; commercial and residential structures; industrial facilities for the oil industry; residential subdivisions along Lake Sakakawea on the Missouri River; multiple gasoline and oil pipelines; anhydrous ammonia filling stations; grain elevators; and a railroad running through the district that carries fertilizer, oil, chemical, and grain rail cars.
“Our single-station department covers all that with 17 volunteer firefighters,” Clemensen notes. Other apparatus in the department’s fleet, besides the new Midwest Fire pumper-tanker, include a 2011 Rosenbauer pumper with a 1,250-gallon-per-minute (gpm) pump and a 1,000-gallon water tank; a 1992 tanker (tender) with a 350-gpm pump and a 4,500-gallon water tank; a Rosenbauer-Heiman Fire Ford F-450 initial response truck with a 250-gpm pump and a 400-gallon water tank; a Danko Ford F-450 quick-response truck with a 250-gpm pump and a 400-gallon water tank; two Danko Ford F-450 wildland units, each with a 250-gpm pump and a 400-gallon water tank; an M&T Fire Polaris Ranger utility terrain vehicle (UTV) with a high-pressure pump, an 80-gallon water tank, and a five-gallon foam tank; and a 2014 Ford-F550 rescue truck.
Parshall (ND) Rural Fire Protection District
Clemensen points out that the department wanted the new pumper-tanker to have all-wheel drive to negotiate the snow in winter and muddy terrain in spring and after summer rains. “We had a rough idea of what we wanted in the truck and what we wanted to spend,” he says. “We were working under a grant from North Dakota Energy and Infrastructure, which is an oil impact grant. Midwest Fire came up with the spec and the price we were looking for and was able to give us all-wheel drive on the vehicle.”
Brett Jensen, vice president and general manager for Midwest Fire Equipment & Repair, says the pumper-tanker is on a 2018 Freightliner M2 106 two-door chassis with a 106-inch BBC flat-roof aluminum cab and a copolymer polypropylene thermoplastic body and integral water tank. The all-wheel-drive rig has an 18,000-pound front axle, a 44,000-pound tandem rear axle, and a 62,000-pound gross vehicle weight rating and uses a Taperleaf front suspension and a Tuftrac rear spring suspension.
Jensen says the vehicle is powered by a 350-horsepower (hp) Cummins L8 diesel engine that has a Cummins exhaust brake integral with a variable geometry turbo and an Allison 3000 EVS automatic transmission. The pumper-tanker has a Darley LSP 1,000-gpm power takeoff pump, allowing pump and roll; a 3,000-tallon T-style copolymer polypropylene water tank; an FRC Pump Boss 400 pressure governor; and three manual Newton 12-inch dump valves—the rear one with a 12-inch flip chute and one on each side of the vehicle with 36-inch telescoping chutes.
He notes that the “body and water tank are one entity made from ¾-inch-thick copolymer polypropylene that will not rust or deteriorate. It’s about 500 pounds heavier than aluminum but lighter than steel or stainless steel and very durable. There’s not a metal that can compare to it. You can take a sledge to it, and it will chip the paint but won’t dent or take a chunk out of the structure itself.”
Jensen says that Midwest Fire used its notched pump configuration on the Parshall pumper-tanker. “This is where the tank comes up and over the pump house, which keeps the water forward on the truck and the vehicle shorter in length and more compact,” Jensen says. “Instead of a typical length of 32 feet for a pumper-tanker of this type, the Parshall pumper-tanker came in at 29 feet 6 inches long, which saves 2½ feet in length by using the notch configuration.” He adds that overall height on the pumper-tanker is 9 feet 11 inches, wheelbase is 200 inches, and cab-to-axle length is 134 inches.
Clemensen says that Parshall wanted an Elkhart Brass Sidewinder 500-gpm monitor on the front bumper electronically controlled from the vehicle’s cab. “It can be used as an initial knockdown nozzle for any type of fire and also to defend the truck in the case of wildland fires,” he says. “We had a call where we rolled up on a very large agricultural tractor fire that was fully involved—the type of tractor powered by a 600-hp engine and running on 12 wheels. The Darley pump on the pumper-tanker worked great with the Sidewinder monitor to knock down the flames and cool off the fire, and then we were able to switch to a foam attack from the exterior.”
Midwest Fire Equipment Pumper-Tanker
Clemensen says the pumper-tanker doesn’t carry any ground ladders but has a Zico electric portable water tank rack, a Class 1 Es-Key™ management system for all electrical devices, a Class 1 UltraView™ 700 seven-inch color display, a Rear View Safety® camera system, a 56-inch-long Whelen Justice series Super-LED low profile light bar, two Whelen 600 series LED lights mounted in the grille and two at the rear of the body, six Whelen combination scene/flashers with red lenses, four Whelen LED ground lights under the apparatus, and a Whelen 200-watt six-function Class A electronic siren.
“The pumper-tanker has seen lots of action besides that big tractor fire,” Clemensen points out. “It’s been at a number of working fires and has served well in both fire suppression and as a water supply. This pumper-tanker now rolls first on vehicle and truck fires with our initial response pumper instead of sending our 4,500-gallon tanker.”
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and 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.