Wet Rescues Being Built on Smaller, Medium Chassis for Faster, More Efficient Response

BY ALAN M. PETRILLO

Some fire departments are choosing small-chassis rescue trucks that incorporate either a small foam system or small water tank and pump to handle a fire situation that develops when on a rescue scene.

Other departments are choosing to put fire suppression capability on traditional size rescue trucks. Whatever the chassis, these rigs are often referred to as “wet rescues” and represent a wide variety of options for that class of vehicle.

SMALL RESCUES

Joe Messmer, president of Summit Fire Apparatus, believes that wet rescues are becoming more popular for a couple of reasons. “The two biggest reasons are lack of manpower to staff engines and money,” Messmer says, “so departments are coming up with innovative ways to use their apparatus. We’ve been building wet rescues on Ford F-550 chassis, as well as Dodge chassis, with small pumps and 300 gallons of water. We also have built some wet rescues that carry a Tri-Max [compressed-air foam system (CAFS)].”

Mark Brenneman, assistant sales manager for 4 Guys Fire Trucks, says 4 Guys recently built wet rescues for three Pennsylvania fire departments: the Washington Township (PA) Volunteer Fire Department, the West Bradford (PA) Fire Department, and the West Alexander (PA) Fire Department. “The wet rescues are on Ford F-550 chassis with [power takeoff (PTO)] pumps,” Brenneman says. “The West Alexander wet rescue has a Hale CBP 250-gallon-per-minute (gpm) pump, 200-gallon water tank, and speedlays in a transverse front compartment; West Bradford has the same pump and 300 gallons of water with two speedlays; and Washington Township has a 500-gpm Hale AP-500 pump, 300 gallons of water, and the pump panel and a [self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)] fill station in the L1 compartment.”

Summit Fire Apparatus built a wet rescue on a custom heavy rescue chassis for the Alexandria (KY) Fire Department that has a slide-in CAFS in one of its compartments. (Photo 1 courtesy of Summit Fire Apparatus.)

1 Summit Fire Apparatus built a wet rescue on a custom heavy rescue chassis for the Alexandria (KY) Fire Department that has a slide-in CAFS in one of its compartments. (Photo 1 courtesy of Summit Fire Apparatus.)

This wet rescue built by 4 Guys Fire Trucks for the West Alexander (PA) Fire Department has a Hale CBP PTO-driven 250-gpm pump, a 200-gallon water tank, a small pump panel, and speedlays in a transverse compartment. (Photos 2-3 courtesy of 4 Guys Fire Trucks.)

2 This wet rescue built by 4 Guys Fire Trucks for the West Alexander (PA) Fire Department has a Hale CBP PTO-driven 250-gpm pump, a 200-gallon water tank, a small pump panel, and speedlays in a transverse compartment. (Photos 2-3 courtesy of 4 Guys Fire Trucks.)

This is the pump panel in the front of the R1 compartment on a 4 Guys-built wet rescue for the West Bradford (PA) Fire Department that has a Hale CBP PTO-driven 250-gpm pump, a 300-gallon water tank, and two speedlays.

3 This is the pump panel in the front of the R1 compartment on a 4 Guys-built wet rescue for the West Bradford (PA) Fire Department that has a Hale CBP PTO-driven 250-gpm pump, a 300-gallon water tank, and two speedlays.

Todd Nix, apparatus consultant for Unruh Fire, agrees with Messmer that cost is a major reason for departments moving toward wet rescues. “The cost of the smaller vehicle is $250,000 to $300,000 compared with a full-size custom pumper at $600,000 to $800,000,” Nix observes. “And, the cost of operation and maintenance is less on the smaller rigs, plus they are easier to maneuver.” Unruh recently built a wet rescue for the New Martinsville (WV) Fire Department on a Ford F-550 crew cab 4×4 chassis with a three-inch lift kit for Super Single wheels and tires and carrying a Tri-Max 30 CAFS skid unit, Nix says. For the Cub Run (KY) Fire Department, Nix notes that Unruh built a wet rescue on a Ford F-550 4×4 crew cab chassis and an 11-foot aluminum mini pumper rescue body with a Waterous 500-gpm CX side-mount pump, a 300-gallon water tank, and crosslays above the pump panel.

Ed Smith, sales manager for E-ONE commercial pumpers, says E-ONE developed a mini rescue-pumper that it released last year to reflect the trend away from conventional pumpers and toward rescue-pumpers. “Outside of [aircraft rescue and firefighting], wildland, and industrial, almost every truck now is a combination of fire/rescue,” Smith points out. “The demand we’ve seen in the last few years is transitioning back to what had been called mini pumpers but now with rescue capabilities. Our mini rescue-pumper is a rescue truck that does fire suppression, currently on a Ford F-550 chassis with up to a 1,250-gpm midship pump and 300 gallons of water. We redesigned the pump module to a narrower 24 inches wide, which gave us room to make the truck a full-fledged fire responder, medical responder, and rescue responder.”

Unruh Fire built a wet rescue for the Cub Run (KY) Fire Department on a Ford F-550 4×4 crew cab chassis and an 11-foot aluminum mini pumper rescue body with a Waterous 500-gpm CX side-mount pump, a 300-gallon water tank, and crosslays over the pump panel. (Photos 4-5 courtesy of Unruh Fire.)

4 Unruh Fire built a wet rescue for the Cub Run (KY) Fire Department on a Ford F-550 4×4 crew cab chassis and an 11-foot aluminum mini pumper rescue body with a Waterous 500-gpm CX side-mount pump, a 300-gallon water tank, and crosslays over the pump panel. (Photos 4-5 courtesy of Unruh Fire.)

For the New Martinsville (WV) Fire Department, Unruh Fire built a wet rescue on a Ford F-550 4×4 chassis with a three-inch lift kit for Super Single wheels and tires and carrying a Tri-Max 20 CAFS unit.

5 For the New Martinsville (WV) Fire Department, Unruh Fire built a wet rescue on a Ford F-550 4×4 chassis with a three-inch lift kit for Super Single wheels and tires and carrying a Tri-Max 20 CAFS unit.

Precision Fire Apparatus built this wet rescue for the Plattsburg (MO) Fire Department on a Dodge chassis with a 200-gallon water tank, a CAFS unit, and a full transverse compartment behind the cab. (Photo 6 courtesy of Precision Fire Apparatus.)

6 Precision Fire Apparatus built this wet rescue for the Plattsburg (MO) Fire Department on a Dodge chassis with a 200-gallon water tank, a CAFS unit, and a full transverse compartment behind the cab. (Photo 6 courtesy of Precision Fire Apparatus.)

Travis Higginbotham, lead engineer at Precision Fire Apparatus, says Precision typically builds its wet rescues on Ford F-550 chassis but also builds on Dodge chassis too. “We built a wet rescue for Plattsburg (MO) Fire Department on a Dodge chassis with a 200-gallon water tank, CAFS unit, and full transverse compartment behind the cab,” Higginbotham says. “And, we are currently building a wet rescue for Grand Fork (IL) on a Ford chassis with a 500-gpm pump, 250-gallon water tank, and provisions to carry hydraulic rescue tools.”

Ben Bregg, design engineer for Spencer Manufacturing Inc., points out that many departments have staffing and demographics issues that cause them to turn to multiuse vehicles like wet rescues. “We built a wet rescue for Cass-Clinton (MI) Volunteer Fire Department on a Ford F-550 chassis with a 380-gpm Darley pump and 300-gallon water tank with a body that matches the cab height because of the department’s low height restriction of a parking garage in its district,” Bregg says. “For Branch (MI) Fire Department, we built a wet rescue on a Ford F-550 chassis carrying a 400-gpm Hale HPX 400 pump, 200-gallon water tank, five-gallon foam tank, and Trident ATP FoamMate 1.0 foam system; and for Hopkins (MI) Fire Department, the wet rescue we built is on a Ford F-550 chassis and crew cab, with a Darley Davey 13 [horsepower (hp)] Briggs & Stratton pump, 275-gallon water tank, and all three compartments fully transverse.”

LARGE RESCUES

But, all wet rescues aren’t necessarily on small-frame chassis. Wyatt Compton, emergency response product manager for Spartan ER, says Spartan ER recently built a wet rescue on a custom walk-around heavy-rescue chassis for the Devil’s Lake (ND) Fire Department with a Hale KP2 400-gpm rear-mount pump, 350-gallon water tank, 30-gallon foam tank, swing-out hose reels, and lots of tool boards and slide-out trays for storage.

Spencer Manufacturing Inc. built a wet rescue for the Cass-Clinton (MI) Volunteer Fire Department on a Ford F-550 chassis with a 380-gpm Darley pump, and a 300-gallon water tank. (Photos 7-8 courtesy of Spencer Manufacturing Inc.)

7 Spencer Manufacturing Inc. built a wet rescue for the Cass-Clinton (MI) Volunteer Fire Department on a Ford F-550 chassis with a 380-gpm Darley pump, and a 300-gallon water tank. (Photos 7-8 courtesy of Spencer Manufacturing Inc.)

Spencer built a wet rescue for the Hopkins (MI) Fire Department on a Ford F-550 chassis and crew cab with a Darley Davey 13-hp Briggs & Stratton pump, a 275-gallon water tank, and all three compartments fully transverse.

8 Spencer built a wet rescue for the Hopkins (MI) Fire Department on a Ford F-550 chassis and crew cab with a Darley Davey 13-hp Briggs & Stratton pump, a 275-gallon water tank, and all three compartments fully transverse.

Spartan ER built a wet rescue on a custom walk-around heavy-rescue chassis for the Devil’s Lake (ND) Fire Department with a Hale KP2 400-gpm rear-mount pump, a 350-gallon water tank, a 30-gallon foam tank, and swing-out hose reels. (Photo 9 courtesy of Spartan ER.)

9 Spartan ER built a wet rescue on a custom walk-around heavy-rescue chassis for the Devil’s Lake (ND) Fire Department with a Hale KP2 400-gpm rear-mount pump, a 350-gallon water tank, a 30-gallon foam tank, and swing-out hose reels. (Photo 9courtesy of Spartan ER.)

Bill Proft, business unit director for rescue products at Pierce Manufacturing Inc., says Pierce has been building wet rescues on custom heavy-rescue chassis for many years. “We build around six to 10 a year, usually with 250-gpm to 500-gpm pumps mounted between the frame rails near the front of the body,” Proft points out, “with the pump panel in the first or second driver’s side compartment and a 200- to 300-gallon water tank mounted directly above the pump.” Proft notes Pierce currently is building a wet rescue on an Impel chassis and three-door cab for the Southern Manatee (FL) Fire Rescue District. “There’s a small command area in the crew cab section, and the rescue carries a Hale 250-gpm PTO-driven pump and a 230-gallon water tank. For Evesham (NJ) Fire Department, we’re building a wet rescue on a Velocity tandem-rear-axle chassis and combination body that has a small walk-in area at the front with access from the cab and with a Hale 500-gpm hydraulically driven pump in the rear compartment.”

Pierce Manufacturing Inc. built a wet rescue for the Southern Manatee (FL) Fire Rescue District on an Impel chassis and three-door cab with a Hale 250-gpm PTO-driven pump and a 230-gallon water tank. (Photos 10-11 courtesy of Pierce Manufacturing Inc.)

10 Pierce Manufacturing Inc. built a wet rescue for the Southern Manatee (FL) Fire Rescue District on an Impel chassis and three-door cab with a Hale 250-gpm PTO-driven pump and a 230-gallon water tank. (Photos 10-11 courtesy of Pierce Manufacturing Inc.)

For the Evesham (NJ) Fire Department, Pierce Manufacturing is building a wet rescue on a Velocity tandem-rear-axle chassis and combination body, with a Hale 500-gpm hydraulically driven pump in the rear compartment.

11  For the Evesham (NJ) Fire Department, Pierce Manufacturing is building a wet rescue on a Velocity tandem-rear-axle chassis and combination body, with a Hale 500-gpm hydraulically driven pump in the rear compartment.

Coquitlam (BC) Fire Rescue had SVI Trucks put a Waterous CX 750-gpm pump, a 300-gallon water tank, a 10-gallon foam cell, and an Advantus 3 foam system on its heavy rescue truck. (Photos 12-13 courtesy of SVI Trucks.)

12 Coquitlam (BC) Fire Rescue had SVI Trucks put a Waterous CX 750-gpm pump, a 300-gallon water tank, a 10-gallon foam cell, and an Advantus 3 foam system on its heavy rescue truck. (Photos 12-13 courtesy of SVI Trucks.)

SVI Trucks built a wet rescue on a custom chassis for the South Berkeley (WV) Fire Department that has a Hale CBP 250-gpm PTO-driven pump and a 300-gallon water tank.

13 SVI Trucks built a wet rescue on a custom chassis for the South Berkeley (WV) Fire Department that has a Hale CBP 250-gpm PTO-driven pump and a 300-gallon water tank.

Bob Sorensen, vice president of sales for SVI Trucks, says that SVI built a heavy rescue for the Killeen (TX) Fire Department, and when a new chief came onboard during the build process, he asked SVI to put a pump on the rig to make it a wet rescue. “We also are building a wet rescue now for La Junta (CO) Fire Department on a Freightliner chassis and four-door cab with a 16-foot walk-around medium rescue body that carries a [ultra-high pressure] skid unit in the transverse L3 compartment over the wheel well,” Sorensen says. “The rescue also has a 300-gallon water tank and 100 feet of high-pressure hose on a reel.”


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.

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