In recent decades, the traditional rescue truck gave way to the rescue-pumper and now is trending to light rescue trucks in some departments.
Smaller rigs, which are more maneuverable and economical to operate yet still able to carry a modicum of rescue equipment, are gaining favor among departments, especially those that don’t want to put a heavy rescue on the road for typical rescue calls or those that have staffing issues with a larger rescue.
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Steve Williamson, director of sales for the Clearwater (FL) plant of Pierce Manufacturing Inc., says, “While Pierce is known worldwide for its heavy-duty rescues, light-duty rescues are complementary products that we make.” Williamson says Pierce’s light rescues are built on Ford F-550 chassis, usually with four-door crew cabs, but sometimes with Super Cabs and with 10-foot or 12-foot aluminum bodies. “Each truck is configured for the fire department’s needs to allow maximum storage space to hold the equipment needed to be carried in the body’s seven compartments,” Williamson adds. He notes that Pierce recently built light rescues for the Pleasant Grove (AL) Fire Department and the Indianapolis (IN) Fire Department and is building units for the State of New Jersey and the U.S. Navy.
1 Pierce Manufacturing built this light rescue truck for the Indianapolis (IN) Fire Department on a Ford F-550 chassis and four-door cab. (Photo courtesy of Pierce Manufacturing Inc.)
2 Rescue 1 built this light rescue on a Ford F-550 4×4 chassis with a two-door cab and 14-foot six-inch-long body for the Agawam (MA) Fire Department. (Photo courtesy of Rescue 1.)
3 Boise Mobile Equipment built this light rescue on a 4×4 International CV chassis with a four-door cab for the Ventura County (CA) Fire Department. (Photo courtesy of Boise Mobile Equipment.)
Darryl Rhyne, general manager of Sutphen East Corp., says Sutphen has built light rescues on Ford F-550 and RAM 5500 chassis with two-door or four-door cabs. “We offer 11-foot- and 13-foot-long extruded aluminum bodies, with the 11-footers having three compartments per side and the 13-footers four compartments each side,” Rhyne says, “and have the ability to do transverse compartments in any location.” Rhyne notes Sutphen is exploring the option of using polypropylene bodies to reduce weight and intends to offer that option within 12 months. He says Sutphen recently built a light-duty rescue for the Utica (NY) Fire Department and one for the Selkirk (NY) Fire Department that has a breathing air unit onboard.
Chad Newsome, national sales manager for Rescue 1, says Rescue 1’s light rescues are built on Ford F-550 and F-650 chassis as well as RAM 5500 chassis and that he recently booked an order for a light rescue on the new Ford F-600 chassis. “We build them with all-aluminum bodies with double-wall construction that range from nine feet to 14 feet 6 inches long,” Newsome notes. “Light-duty rescues serve a very beneficial purpose for many fire departments, especially those that have a very specific niche need for it.” Newsome says Rescue 1 recently built a light rescue for the Agawam (MA) Fire Department on a Ford F-550 4×4 chassis with a two-door cab with a 14-foot six-inch body carrying seven compartments and another similar unit on a Ford F-550 4×4 chassis for Northwell Health in New York.
Chad Moffatt, president of Boise Mobile Equipment (BME), says BME builds light rescues on RAM 5500 and Ford F-550 chassis, usually four-wheel drive and mostly with four-door cabs. “Ninety-nine percent of our light rescues have a slide-out tray in the rear compartment and a transverse compartment just behind the cab,” Moffatt points out. He says BME built a light rescue for the Redlands (CA) Fire Department on a 4×4 Ford F-550, one for the Bellows Falls (VT) Fire Department on a 4×4 International CV chassis with a four-door cab, two light rescues for the Ventura County (CA) Fire Department on two-wheel-drive Dodge 4500 chassis with four-door cabs, and one for the Twin Falls (ID) Fire Department on a Ford F-550 4×4 chassis with a crew cab and set up as a search and rescue unit with four 10,000-pound rope tie-off points to allow firefighters to rappel off the vehicle.
4 4 Guys Fire Trucks built this light rescue on a Ford F-650 chassis with a 15-foot body for the Williamsville (NY) Fire Department. (Photo courtesy of 4 Guys Fire Trucks.)
5 Summit Fire Apparatus built this light rescue on a RAM 5500 4×4 chassis with a two-door cab and 11-foot-long aluminum body for the Plains (OH) Volunteer Fire Department. (Photo courtesy of Summit Fire Apparatus.)
Todd Nix, apparatus consultant for Unruh Fire, says his company’s light rescues are based on Chevrolet 3500 crew cab 4×4 chassis, Ford F-550 4×4 chassis, and RAM 5500 4×4 chassis with eight-, nine-, 10-, or 11-foot-long bodies. “Most of the light rescues we build are on four-door cabs, and many of them carry a generator, a light tower, a rear traffic advisor, and upper-body coffin compartments,” Nix points out.
Mark Brenneman, assistant sales manager for 4 Guys Fire Trucks, says 4 Guys recently built a light rescue for the Donora (PA) Fire Company on a Ford F-550 chassis with a crew cab and 12-foot body that features a transverse front compartment with a bidirectional slide-out tray and full-length upper-body compartments; a light rescue for the Cherry City (PA) Fire Company on a Ford F-550 chassis with a 12-inch body holding an oil dry hopper in the driver’s side coffin compartment and a custom fabricated Stokes basket, ladder, and rescue strut compartment; and a light rescue for the Williamsville (NY) Fire Department on a Ford F-650 chassis with a 15-foot body carrying a Winco 25-kilowatt (kW) generator, two electric rewind reels for 150 feet of electric cord, and a 10,000-pound portable winch.
Bill Davidson, vice president of sales for Skeeter Brush Trucks, notes Skeeter has built light rescues with its All Terrain Package on Ford, Dodge, RAM, and Chevrolet chassis as well as on modified International and Freightliner chassis. “Bodies are from formed aluminum diamond plate to high-end aluminum and come in lengths of 114, 138, and 160 inches,” Davidson points out. “We can do high side compartments on both sides and also a transverse in the front compartment. We built a fleet of light rescues for the Houston (TX) Fire Department that have a skid pump that can be removed and two fold-down seats and netting to convert to water rescue trucks.”
Joe Messmer, president of Summit Fire Apparatus, says Summit recently built three light-duty technical rescue trucks for the San Juan County (NM) Fire Department on 4×4 Ford F-550 chassis with seven compartments in an 11-foot 8-inch body as well as a light rescue for the Mastersonville (PA) Fire Department on a Ford F-550 chassis with a 10-foot aluminum body carrying a Smart Power 5.5-kW generator and a Will-Burt light tower. Summit also built a light rescue for the Plains (OH) Volunteer Fire Department, Messmer adds, on a RAM 5500 4×4 chassis with an 11-foot aluminum body, seven compartments, a Will-Burt Night Scan Chief light tower, and a 6-kW diesel generator; a light rescue for the Burket (IN) Fire Department on a 4×4 Ford F-550 chassis with a 14-foot aluminum body and nine compartments protected by ROM roll-up doors and having a 15-bottle self-contained breathing apparatus storage area; and a light rescue for the Morgan Township (OH) Fire Department on a Ford F-550 chassis with a crew cab, a 12-foot body, and six storage compartments.
Bob Sorensen, vice president of sales at SVI Trucks, says SVI built a light rescue for the Rocky Mountain (CO) Rescue Group on a Ford F-350 Super Duty chassis and cab carrying a Century Ultra topper equipped with tool boxes, storage compartments, and an OnScene Solutions slide-out tray and a light rescue for the Tallahassee (CO) Fire Protection District on a 4×4 Ford F-550 crew cab chassis carrying a Command Light Knight 2 KS light tower and OnScene Solutions cargo slides. He adds that SVI also built a light rescue for the Eagle Pass (TX) Fire Department on a Ford F-550 Super Duty cab and chassis with a Command Light Shadow light tower and custom mounts for Holmatro rescue tools; a light rescue on an International CV chassis and two-door cab with a 14-foot body for the Santa Fe County (NM) Fire Department; and a light rescue for the Clarence Center (NY) Volunteer Fire Company on a Ford F-550 crew cab and chassis with a 12-foot aluminum body, Command Light Knight 2 KL light tower, and OnScene Solutions cargo slides.
Perry Shatley, wildland sales manager for BFX Fire Apparatus, notes that BFX recently built a light rescue for the Paradise (TX) Fire Department on a Ford F-350 chassis with a crew cab, seven compartments including a transverse L1/R1, and a rear slide-out tray next to a two-bottle cascade air system as well as a light rescue for the South Adams (CO) Fire Department on a Ford F-550 chassis with a crew cab, dual rear wheels, a Highlands rescue body system, seven compartments, a rear slide-out compartment, and an L1/R1 transverse compartment.
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.