U.S. Tanker Builds 3,000-Gallon Tender Fire Truck on Kenworth T800


By Alan M. Petrillo

Tenders (tankers) do the work of hydrants in rural areas and towns where water isn’t accessible through pressurized water mains. So when the Richfield (WI) Volunteer Fire Company needed to replace a tanker it had purchased 27 years previously, it turned again to the company that built that earlier vehicle, U.S. Tanker Co.

Richfield’s fire protection area for fire, rescue and emergency medical services (EMS) covers 36 square miles of primarily residential occupancies in the incorporated village of Richfield, eight square miles of the town of Erin, and three square miles of the town of Polk, for a total population of more than 11,000 residents. The department operates out of two stations with two paid full-time and one paid part time firefighter, along with 62 volunteer firefighters. There are no hydrants in the district, with the exception of an industrial park with its own pressurized water system and at city hall.

John Schmitz, Richfield’s deputy chief, says streams, ponds, lakes, and the pressurized water system at city hall are the places where the department’s rigs can fill up with water. “There also are some industrial and commercial facilities that have enough water storage for their needs that can give us a supply when needed,” Schmitz says.

The specs that Richfield wrote for its new fire truck were pretty straightforward, Schmitz observes, and resulted in the contract for the vehicle being awarded to U.S. Tanker. “We built them a 3,000-gallon tanker on a Kenworth T800 chassis with a 500-horsepower diesel engine and an Allison 4000 EVS automatic transmission,” John Woltman, president of U.S. Tanker, says. “We also put on a Hale HP400 portable pump plumbed to the tank that will deliver 400 gallons per minute (gpm).”

Schmitz points out that Richfield also included a one-inch booster reel with 300 feet of forestry hose on it in its specs. “We intended to use it when we have to get off on the side of a highway or in a ditch line alongside a road so we can do pump and roll and take care of grass fires,” he says.

The tanker also carries a 3,000-gallon portable water tank in a Zico electric tank rack; two E.J. Metals 10-inch round dump valves behind the rear axle, one on each side of the truck; and a 10-inch square Newton dump valve at the rear. “There’s no hosebed on this vehicle,” Woltman notes. “It’s strictly a water tender and for grass fires alongside the highway.”

Lighting for the new fire apparatus includes six Whelen FPP2 scene lights, two on each side of the truck and two at the rear, as well as a complement of Whelen LED warning lights. Overall length on the tanker is 29 feet 11 inches and wheelbase is 206 inches.

Schmitz says that Richfield’s other fire trucks include two Pierce engines, one with a 2,000-gpm pump and 1,000-gallon water tank and the other with a 1,500-gpm pump and 1,000-gallon water tank; a Marion/Spartan reserve engine with a 1,500-gpm pump and 1,000-gallon water tank; a Rosenbauer walk-in heavy rescue for hydraulic and technical rescue, dive gear, and rapid intervention team (RIT) equipment; a Marion/Freightliner walk-around heavy rescue with hydraulic tools and RIT capability, a command center and cascade air system;  two U.S. Tanker/Mack 3,000-gallon tenders with portable pumps for pump and roll; MedTech and LifeLine ambulances; and a 2014 Chevy brush truck.

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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