Unusual Pumper Designs Serve Fire Departments’ Special Needs

Alan M. Petrillo

Many fire departments have unique situations in their coverage areas that require unusual or out-of-the-ordinary designs or equipment on their pumpers. Apparatus manufacturers have responded to those special needs with a wide variety of pumpers that exhibit at least one, if not several, design modifications that set those vehicles apart from what most firefighters would consider traditional front-line pumpers.

Pumpers for Patient Transport

Chad Trinkner, Pierce Manufacturing Inc.’s market manager for aerials, pumpers and fire suppression, says unusual pumpers that Pierce has built recently include a pair of patient transport pumpers.

The West Jordan (UT) Fire Department bought two patient transport pumpers from Pierce, Trinkner points out, having them fitted out essentially as consolidated pumper-ambulances. Both units are built on Pierce Arrow XT chassis and carry Waterous GMU 1,500-gallon-per-minute (gpm) two-stage pumps and 500-gallon water tanks.

(1) Rosenbauer built a pumper for the Lake Johanna (MN) Fire Department on its Commander 4000 711 chassis with a Waterous 1,250-gpm midship pump and 900-gallon water tank, featuring an auxiliary pump panel in the rig’s extended front bumper. (Photo courtesy of Rosenbauer.)

Around the same time, the Broward County (FL) Sheriff Fire Rescue was looking for a patient transport pumper and had Pierce build one on a Velocity chassis with a Waterous CSU 1,500-gpm single-stage pump and 750-gallon water tank.

“Both West Jordan and Broward County patient transport pumpers are powered by DD13 Detroit diesels, and the back ends of the vehicles are pretty standard in terms of the hosebed, ladders, compartments, and pump areas,” Trinkner says. “We designed a new 112-inch-long cab module to accommodate a lift for a patient gurney that fits behind our standard two-door cab, where the gurney sits across the width of the cab.”

Trinkner notes there is open communication between the two medics in the back with the patient and the driver and officer up front. The vehicle length is just over 34 feet, he adds.

(2) Custom Fire recently rebuilt the Glenbeulah (WI) Fire Department a pumper with an enclosed a large hose reel in the rear of the body, along with a folding water tank storage slot. (Photo courtesy of Custom Fire.)

Reel Usage

KME recently built an unusual pumper for the Harvard (MA) Fire Department on a Predator severe service chassis, says Jason Witmier, KME’s pumper and tanker product manager. The unusual element to the seemingly typical pumper is that it carries three Hannay hose reels-two for two-inch attack lines (one on each side of the vehicle) and a large hydraulic reel at the rear to handle 3,300 feet of four-inch large-diameter hose (LDH). “The pumper doesn’t have any crosslays,” Witmier says. “Instead, it has the reels that carry the attack lines dry. Firefighters pull off the hose they need, hook it to a discharge, and use it. When finished, they drain it and put it back on the reel.”

To avoid problems with the rear angle of departure on the vehicle, KME built a rear step that folds in half down to a 12-inch-wide step from 24 inches. “The department needed to have the wider step for when it loads the LDH but didn’t want to have angle-of-departure issues, so we came up with the split rear step,” Witmier observes.

The Harvard pumper carries a Hale QMAX 1,500-gpm pump and a 1,000-gallon water tank, and its front bumper is set up with a swiveling 10-foot hard suction hose attached to an inlet with a low-level strainer so the department can quickly deploy the front suction into a portable tank drafting operation. The vehicle carries an additional three 10-foot hard suction lengths.

(3) The Broward County (FL) Sheriff Fire Rescue took delivery of a Pierce Manufacturing foam pumper-tanker recently. The unit sits on a Quantum chassis and carries a Hale 8FG 3,000-gpm pump, a 500-gallon water tank, and an 1,800-gallon foam tank. (Photo courtesy of Pierce Manufacturing Inc.)

KME built another LDH hose reel pumper, this one for the New Haven (VT) Fire Department. “They’re a small volunteer department so they don’t have a lot of firefighters to load hose,” Witmier says. “They chose the large hose reel on the rear of the apparatus that allows 1,000 feet of LDH to be packed by two firefighters-one operating the reel and one feeding hose from the ground.”

New Haven also wanted an International 7400 4×4 commercial chassis but had height restrictions because the department had to fit the vehicle in an old firehouse. KME got the unit down to less than 10 feet, six inches by making a custom warning light bar that it hung beneath the vehicle’s exterior visor. The pumper carries a Hale HFM 1,250-gpm front-mount pump and a 300-gallon UPF poly water tank.

Custom Fire’s sales engineer Wayde Kirvida says his company recently reconditioned a pumper for the Glenbeulah (WI) Fire Department and enclosed a large hose reel into the rear of the vehicle’s body. “The unique thing about this truck is the way we concealed the large hose reel into what is otherwise a very normal looking pumper body,” Kirvida points out. The pumper also has folding tank storage enclosed at the rear of the vehicle and carries a Waterous CS 1,250-gpm pump and a 1,000-gallon water tank.

Another unusual pumper that Custom Fire rebuilt is one for the Mineral Point (WI) Fire Department. “This pumper has a reel for large-diameter hose, a rear-mount Waterous CM 1,250-gpm two-stage pump, and no water tank,” Kirvida observes. “It’s designed to lay hose for relay in a rural historic community in southwest Wisconsin.”

(4) KME built a pumper for the Harvard (MA) Fire Department with three Hannay hose reels: an LDH reel at the rear for 3,300 feet of four-inch LDH and two handline hose reels (one each side) for 200 feet of two-inch hose. The pumper also has a rear step that folds in half to assist the vehicle’s angle of departure. (Photo courtesy of KME.)

Nontraditional Body

Neil Sjostorm, apparatus specialist for Rosenbauer, says his firm recently delivered a pumper with a one-piece, nontraditional body to the Lake Johanna (MN) Fire Department. “This is one of the first Commander 4000-711 chassis we’ve put in service,” Sjostorm says. “And while the pumper carries a Waterous 1,250-gpm midship pump behind a roll-up door and 900-gallon water tank, the body style is the same as we’ve used on our rear-mount pumpers in that it is one solid piece from the back of the cab to the rear of the truck,” Sjostorm says.

Another unusual element to the pumper is that it carries an auxiliary pump panel in its extended front bumper. “The bumper compartment carries 100 feet of preconnected 2½-inch hose,” Sjostorm notes, “along with a sequence of electronic valve controllers and a pressure-governing device.”

In addition, the vehicle has a sophisticated light package, where all the 12-volt Whelen scene lighting is tied into the open door circuitry on the corresponding side of the pumper, Sjostorm points out. “When you open a door or cabinet, the scene lights come on for that side of the truck. It’s the same with the rear of the vehicle,” he adds.

More Unique Rigs

Paul Christiansen, marketing director for Ferrara Fire Apparatus, says Ferrara recently delivered a custom pumper on an Igniter chassis with extruded aluminum body to the North Montgomery County (TX) Fire Department. The vehicle has full-height 28-inch-deep compartments, a front bumper discharge, hydraulic extrication hose, and electric cord reels in the front bumper. It carries its ladder stowed through the water tank. The North Montgomery pumper has a Hale QMAX 2,000-gpm pump with a Rowe Industries 200-cfm compressed air foam system (CAFS) and a 1,000-gallon water tank.

(5) Spartan ERV built this rescue-pumper for the Easton (PA) Fire Department with a customized hosebed, low crosslays, a transverse compartment in the front of the body, and a Darley 1,500-gpm pump set down in between the frame rails. (Photo courtesy of Spartan ERV.)

Christiansen notes Ferrara built a custom pumper for the San Diego (CA) County Fire Authority, also on an Igniter chassis, that has a 169-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 28 feet three inches. The San Diego pumper carries a Hale QMAX 1,500-gpm midship pump, an auxiliary pump for pump-and-roll capability, and a 500-gallon water tank. Christiansen says the rear body is enclosed to house a 24-foot extension ladder, a 14-foot roof ladder, and a 10-foot attic ladder. Hard suction and backboard storage are located in the hosebed.

The South Montgomery County (TX) Fire Department recently took delivery of a Ferrara-built pumper on an Igniter custom chassis with an extruded aluminum body, left- and right-side full-height compartments, rooftop compartments, ladders through the tank, and enclosed hard suction storage. Christiansen notes that the apparatus has a Hale QMAX 2,000-gpm pump with a Rowe Industries 200-cfm CAFS, a 1,250-gallon water tank, and a Turbo Draft on the extended front bumper with a 2½-inch hoseline and front suction inlet.

For the Eagan (MN) Fire Department, Pierce built the Snozzle pumper on a Saber chassis with a six-person cab, carrying a Waterous S100 1,500-gpm single-stage rear-mount pump, a 500-gallon water tank, a Husky 12 foam system with a 20-gallon foam cell, and a Harrison eight-kW generator. “The Snozzle has a penetrating nozzle as well as an Akron nozzle at the tip for operations beyond piercing,” Trinkner says. The department wanted the extra reach it could get with the Snozzle and the penetrating nozzle while still having an offensive and defensive ability with it.”

Broward County also had Pierce build a foam pumper-tanker on a Quantum chassis, carrying a Hale 8FG 3,000-gpm pump, a 500-gallon water tank, and an 1,800-gallon foam tank. “This is classified as an industrial foam pumper, and its primary mission is to protect a tank farm in the Everglades,” Trinkner says. “The vehicle has a 5,000-gpm Akron Renegade monitor at the front, two Task Force Tips Monsoon 1,500-gpm monitors at each rear corner, and a Husky 300 foam system.”

Trinkner points out that Broward County is putting together the specifications for a second foam pumper-tanker that would add Class D dry chemical capability to the rig so it could respond to airplane crashes on mutual aid.

(6) The West Jordan (UT) Fire Department chose Pierce Manufacturing Inc. to produce two patient transport pumpers built on Pierce Arrow XT chassis carrying Waterous GMU 1,500-gpm pumps and 500-gallon water tanks. The patient transport area is in a custom-built module that sits behind the two-person cab. (Photo courtesy of Pierce Manufacturing Inc.)

John Greible, senior regional sales manager for Spartan ERV, says his company recently built a rescue-pumper for the Easton (PA) Fire Department that “keeps boots on the street, where firefighters don’t have to climb to get essential items.”

Greible says the Easton vehicle is built on a stainless steel Spartan MetroStar chassis, carries a Darley 1,500-gpm pump in between the frame rails just forward of the rear axle, has a 500-gallon water tank, and features low crosslays and a customized hosebed for easy access. “Putting the pump down low preserves compartment space on the vehicle and allows for the rescue-pumper configuration,” Greible notes. “The Easton chief wanted a nimble, versatile vehicle that does more than just fight fires.”

The Easton rescue-pumper also has an Onan eight-kW diesel-driven generator, a Will-Burt Night Scan light tower, a pop-up remotely controlled deck gun, a transverse compartment in the front of the body, and an enclosed hydraulic ladder rack.

Spartan ERV also produced what Greible calls “a 50/50 vehicle split between fire and rescue” for the Valley Forge (PA) Fire Department. The fire department wanted a rescue-pumper with a lot of compartmentation, he notes, so Spartan built the rig on a Gladiator aluminum chassis with a Waterous CMU 2,000-gpm midship top-mount pump, a 1,000-gallon water tank, a 30-gallon foam cell, a Harrison 20-kW hydraulic generator, and a Will-Burt Night Scan light tower. “The department wanted to use as much space on the truck as possible for rescue but still have big firepower,” Greible observes, “which is what we gave them.”

For the Old Richmond (NC) Volunteer Fire Department, KME built a pumper-tanker on a Predator MFD chassis with a Waterous 2,000-gpm pump and a 3,000-gallon water tank. “The overall length on the vehicle is 37 feet, seven inches. It has 10-inch square dump valves at the rear and on each side, and the hosebed is set up to carry 4,000 feet of five-inch LDH,” Witmier notes. “The unit also carries a lot of ladders-two 35-foot three-section extension ladders, two 16-foot roof ladders, one 10-foot attic ladder, as well as two 15-foot lengths of hard suction. “There’s no wasted space on that vehicle,” Witmier says. “We custom designed the water tank to notch around the ladders and the pump discharges.”

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based freelance writer 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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