Spencer Manufacturings Top Side-Mount Pump Panel Has Benefits

Ganges Township (Mich.) Fire Rescue purchased a Spencer Manufacturing 2007 wide body tanker/pumper with an unusual feature – a top side-mount pump panel.

“I’ve always been a firm believer in being up top when you’re at a fire so you can see everything that’s going on,” said Chief Doug Compton. “As a bonus, this arrangement also gave us a truck that’s two feet shorter than if it had been engineered as a traditional top-mount pump panel.”

He said the shorter design makes it easier for his firefighters to negotiate the narrow, twisting driveways in the department’s service area on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan southwest of Grand Rapids.

The shore has long been a desirable building location, according to Town Clerk Cindy Yonkers, who said many of the older building lots are long and narrow.

“We’ve got a lot of half-mile driveways with sharp turns,” Compton said. “We needed something with a shorter wheelbase than our 3,000-gallon tanker. Our design was to shorten everything up for those tight spots.”

The Spencer tanker/pumper, which replaced a 1985 FMC pumper, is almost six feet shorter than the tanker, he said.

 “When I became chief in 1990, we had a 15-year plan for replacing apparatus,” he said, “and this was our final replacement under that plan.” 

The department has two stations, the primary one in Glenn and the other in Fennville. The Spencer tanker/pumper is operated out of the Fennville station, where it is housed with a 1963 M37 ex-military brush truck donated by the Michigan Division of Natural Resources to help protect state forest land.

“We have it there because it can roll on its own, being a tanker/pumper,” Compton said, “and it gives us a resource across the township from our Glenn station, eight miles away. This way, we can better serve the township.” 

The latest Spencer was delivered on Sept. 30, 2007, and went into service a month later, after all department members had been trained on it. “This truck is easy to run and learn on,” the chief said.

Compton, who works for Spencer Manufacturing, said two closed bids were received by the township, which controlled the bidding process and purchased the apparatus. One bid was from Spencer and the other was from Wolverine Fire Apparatus Company in Union City, Mich.

“Spencer was the lower bidder and the only one that could give us the top/side mount pump panel we detailed in our specs,” Compton said. The cost of the apparatus was $246,000 with an additional $19,000 for equipment, he said.

Spencer’s pursuit of a top/side-mount pump panel design began in 2006. “We had seen a couple of similar trucks and thought this design would be of interest to our customers,” said Brian Spencer, owner of Spencer Manufacturing. “So far we’ve delivered four, and since that time it’s become an option.”

He said customers say they like the maneuverability of shorter wheelbase that results from not having to put a crosswalk on top. 

Spencer Manufacturing is a family-owned business located in South Haven, Mich. The company began as a fabrication shop and started refurbishing fire apparatus and other large construction equipment in 1982. Over the next three years, the focus shifted entirely to the fire and rescue market.

“I’ve had a lot of experience on fire departments and that interest, along with my interest in fabrication, led us to building custom apparatus,” Spencer said. “We’ve always had people working here who also serve in the fire service, so we’ve had the advantage of their experience to help guide our engineering.”

Dan VanAlten was the Spencer sales representative.

For more information call 888-439-4884 or go to www.spencermfginc.com

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