Apparatus Ideas: Technical Rescue Rig Helps Department Expand Capabilities

By Bob Vaccaro
The terms technical rescue truck and technical rescue team are two of the most recent buzzwords throughout the world’s fire service communities. More and more fire departments around the United States are designing vehicles to conduct special operations with a cache of special tools that may or may not fit on conventional heavy rescue trucks.

One of those progressive fire departments is the North Bellmore (NY) Fire Department, located in Nassau County on Long Island. According to Chief Brandan Narell, “Approximately six to seven years ago, our department looked into expanding our technical rescue capabilities. We have a heavy rescue vehicle but needed more space to carry additional equipment. Originally, we had a pickup truck towing a trailer that carried additional equipment, but that proved to be inadequate as well, with the trailer being at maximum weight—especially carrying all of the lumber for shoring material.”

Related Content

The department’s team looked around at various local departments and what they were using and attended various fire service trade shows around the country to gain some additional insight and ideas.


Because North Bellmore went with a New York State contract, it could purchase what it wanted within reason. “Our fire district used money allocated in our capital reserve fund for the purchase,” says Narell. “We looked at some local fire departments on Long Island that used box-type trucks and made some changes for our use of this idea. Our fire district purchased a new International 7400 four-door cab with chassis and installed a 24-foot Morgan truck body constructed of galvanized steel. Our specs called for the vehicle to be painted red, and we installed a Rhino floor in the rear box.” Narell says the vehicle’s air ride suspension gives the vehicle a smooth ride and handles the overall weight well. The overall gross vehicle weight rating is 66,000 pounds. “One of our important specs was that the vehicle would also be designed with an exhaust stack mounted vertically so the exhaust wouldn’t be blowing on our firefighters working at an emergency scene,” Narell adds.

1 The North Bellmore (NY) Fire Department’s technical rescue unit is built on an International 7400 chassis with body by Morgan Truck Body. Additional outside compartments, generator, painting, and emergency lighting were installed by Hendrickson Fire Equipment. Interior tool mounting was by Chivvis.

Hendrickson Fire Equipment, a local dealer on Long Island, did all of the electrical work on the vehicle, installing exterior compartments and a generator. The truck also has a 4,000-pound liftgate on the rear of the box to help with offloading equipment, saving a great deal of time and making it safer for firefighters as well.

Another local dealer, Sagamore Lighting, installed all the emergency lighting on the exterior, and Chivvis, another dealer, did all of the metal work in the interior of the box, with equipment mounting and a custom work bench and shelving.

2018 International 7400 four-door cab and chassis
38 feet long
66,000-pound GVWR
Cummins L9 engine
Allison EVS 4000 transmission
4,000-pound hydraulic rear liftgate
Vertical exhaust piping
Electric awnings over both sides of the rear box
24-foot cargo box constructed of galvanized steel
FRC scene lighting
Harrison 20,000-kW PTO-driven generator

The equipment the truck carries can handle a great deal of technical rescue scenarios, according to Narell. “We have a Stanley Hydraulic Generator System installed under the box on the frame rails of the chassis, Harrison power takeoff (PTO) driven 20,000-kW generator, a full complement of Paratech struts, trench panels, 4×4 lumber, vacuum truck hose and attachments, high-angle rescue gear, Class 3 harnesses with a tripod kit, a full DeWalt tool system, jackhammers, and saws,” he says. “Also carried onboard are ice rescue suits and related equipment.”

The truck also features FRC 28,000-lumen scene lighting and two 100-foot electrical reels with 240-/110-volt capability with junction boxes. The truck has roll-out electric awnings on both sides of the rear box and a GPS navigation system that is tied into the department’s dispatch center and all of the iPads the department has installed on all of its vehicles.

“Another one of our main concerns when operating for a prolonged amount of time at an emergency scene was interoperability of radio frequencies with our mutual-aid partners,” says Narell. “We installed various radios that cover low band, high band, and UHF. This will ensure that we can talk to anyone and everyone on scene.”

2 The hydraulic liftgate in the rear.

3 The vehicle’s hand tool mounting in rear.

4 The front of the rear work area in the vehicle’s body.

According to Narell, this technical rescue unit is a regional asset for Nassau County Fire Com, which is the county fire dispatch center. “Fire Com, if directed, can have us dispatched all over the region if needed,” he says.

He adds, “Since we had to have various local vendors help with this endeavor, it really turned out well and met all of our specs and expectations. After we took delivery and installed all of our equipment, we have been performing extensive training with the new unit not only with our own fire department but with various other fire departments and agencies in Nassau County.”

The North Bellmore Fire Department saw the need to expand its technical rescue unit and worked on a plan for a new vehicle that would meet its needs. It worked proactively to design a vehicle that took into consideration using a simple box truck and expanded on its capability to work for the department. This concept saved time and money instead of having a custom unit built for the department.

North Bellmore (NY) Fire Department Suburban area with schools, apartments, strip shopping centers, restaurants, numerous single-family dwellings, and light industry covering 4.3 square miles with a population of 19,900; two stations with 120 members; three engines, two trucks, one heavy rescue, and two ambulances; handles 1,200 alarms per year.

5 Additional equipment in the rear body.

6  Cord reels in an exterior compartment.

7  Portable pumps in an exterior compartment.

Personnel planned the vehicle and had several local vendors work with them to design electrical systems, compartments, and tool mounting as well has having the unit stocked with a cache of technical rescue equipment and radios that would make the unit interoperable all over the region.

Planning for an apparatus purchase is not an easy task by any means. But sometimes when you think outside of the box, like the North Bellmore Fire Department did, it can save you a great deal of time and money and also give you added space on a unit for the future.

BOB VACCARO has more than 40 years of fire service experience. He is a former chief of the Deer Park (NY) Fire Department. Vaccaro has also worked for the Insurance Services Office, the New York Fire Patrol, and several major commercial insurance companies as a senior loss-control consultant. He is a life member of the IAFC.

No posts to display