Fairfax Rural (MO) Fire Protection District was looking to replace a 1998 GMC 3500 brush truck with a new vehicle that could mirror a 2008 Ford F-550 brush truck it bought from Unruh Fire in terms of design and capabilities, so the board of fire commissioners gave the OK for the department to again turn to Unruh for a new brush truck.
Miles Smith, Fairfax Rural's chief, says the department officers wanted the new vehicle to be the same as the earlier Unruh brush truck so that training and use of the rig would be that much easier. "We wanted the same pump and controls as on our earlier Unruh Ford," Smith says. "That way, no matter which brush truck you jumped into, it would be the same as the other in terms of operation and where the equipment is stored."
Fairfax Rural Fire Protection District has 23 volunteer firefighters operating out of one station covering 128 square miles of the southeastern two thirds of Atchison County, Missouri, a mostly rural area of farmland, some woodland, residential structures, and farm outbuildings set among rolling hill territory.
The fire district's other apparatus include a 2008 Unruh Ford F-550 with a Darley 2.5 AGE pump, a 300-gallon water tank, a Darley FastFoam 50 foam system and a 12-gallon foam tank; a 2006 Freightliner tanker with a 250-gallon-per-minute (gpm) pump and 2,000-gallon water tank; a 1988 Pierce Arrow pumper with a 750-gpm pump and 1,000-gallon water tank; and a former Missouri Conservation Department 1998 Chevy half-ton pickup with a 50-gpm pump and 150-gallon water tank.
Tod Newlin, sales associate at Unruh Fire, says Fairfax Rural wanted a vehicle that could carry a lot of equipment—as much water as possible—and have a strong capability when at both brush fire and vehicle fire scenes. Newlin says Unruh built a brush truck on a Ford F-550 Super Duty chassis with cab seating two firefighters. "The body is all aluminum with roll-up doors and Turtle Tile-lined compartments," he points out. "The body has a transverse storage compartment, four large storage compartments, as well as a trunnion compartment at the rear of the truck."
Newlin notes that the fire truck carries a Darley 2.5 AGE 26 LD pump, a Custom Composite 300-gallon water tank with a 12-gallon Class A foam cell, and a Darley Fast Foam 50 foam system. Emergency lighting includes a Whelen Justice 56-inch light bar, he adds, along with two Whelen Super LED 600 series scene lights at the rear of the truck, and two Fire Research Corp. (FRC) Evolution 8000 telescoping scene lights, each putting out 8,000 lumens.
The vehicle also carries a Warn 16,500-pound winch, a Ranch Hand steel bumper, a Hannay booster reel with 100-feet of one-inch Boost Lite hose, and two 10-foot sections of one-inch Boost Lite hose in the walkway area.
Fairfax Rural's vehicle operators liked the idea of the cross walk with top-mounted pump controls on the vehicle. "It allows the pump operator to see in every direction when at a fire," Smith points out. "We liked the walkway area, which allowed us to have the transverse compartment where we could put our air bags, cribbing, saws, and other equipment."
Smith adds that the vehicle's Warn 16,500-pound winch is large for a Type 6 size truck, but sometimes needed in his fire district. "There are times when we are out in the field on soft ground, so with this heavy winch we can pull ourselves out if we need to," he says. "Also, if necessary, we could drag another vehicle out of a ditch. We wanted to have that extra pulling power in case we need it."
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.