The city of Chico (CA) Fire Department wanted a quint tractor-drawn aerial (TDA) to serve multiple functions, especially in the department's downtown area. The department also wanted a larger cab that would provide more physical room for personnel and add additional storage for equipment.
Bill Hack, Chico's interim fire chief, says the city has an old downtown area that isn't sprinklered and that, historically, the department was running with straight stick aerials. "We were running many more calls in the downtown area along with an engin and found that the operating costs were getting prohibitive," Hack says. "Added to that were traffic-calming measures in the modern urban design that increased the angles of approach for our apparatus, which put added stress on them. So, we decided to go with a TDA for more maneuverability."
Hack points out that after the department had to decrease its staff and the number of apparatus it ran, compartment space became a big issue on the new truck it wanted to purchase. "We wanted ease of access to full depth and full height compartments with pull-out trays," he says. "We also wanted to carry battery-powered smoke ejectors and we changed the specs for lighting from halogen lighting tied to generators to LED telescoping spotlights."
Chico Fire Department personnel evaluated a number of different options, driving TDAs from other departments in several locations around the state. Ultimately, the department purchased a 100-foot TDA quint from Pierce Manufacturing Inc., made on a Velocity chassis with a 500-horsepower Cummins ISX 15 diesel engine, an Allison 4000 EVS automatic transmission, a 1,500-gallon-per-minute (gpm) single-stage Hale DSD 1500 pump, a 200-gallon United Plastic Fabricating (UPF) Poly tank, and an Akron Brass 3578 SaberMaster 1,250-gpm monitor and nozzle at the tip of the aerial ladder.
Jon Bauer, of Golden State Fire Apparatus, who sold the rig to Chico, says the fire department also requested a special rescue system that was installed at the end of the ladder. "It's a Life Pulley Rescue System," he says, "where there's an anchor point at the turntable and also at the tip where we have our standard rescue setup that turns the aerial into a crane device. The rope runs through a series of pulleys and down over the tip for rescue or hauling."
The fire department also got the larger space it wanted in the Velocity cab, Bauer points out. "The Velocity cab is 100 inches wide, which is four inches wider than normal, and gives more room for firefighters and added storage," he says. Bauer adds that the department required a quint to give greater fire flow in the downtown are, and also to be more maneuverable. "With our TAK-4 independent front suspension and the maneuvering capabilities of the TDA quint, that 63-foot-long vehicle is pretty impressive," he says.
Hack says that the department has been successful in its use of the Pierce TDA quint. "We've had a great deal of success in maneuvering into places in our new urban design where we can't even get some of our engines," he says. "We also have had simultaneous calls where the first-in engine was not available, so the TDA quint came in, knocked down a fire, like a couch fire on a second story balcony, and prevented a full-blown fire in the structure."
Hack notes that the firefighters also like the roominess of the Velocity cab. "It has so much room, we use it as a rehab area in the summer for our firefighters," he says. "The air conditioning unit handles it well for the setup of four firefighters."
The Chico Fire Department was so pleased with its Pierce TDA quint that it ordered three Pierce PUC pumpers on Velocity cabs and chassis not long afterward, which were delivered in May 2016.
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.