FDNY’s Ferrara Pumper: Moving Water and Foam

If you ever served on an apparatus design committee, you know what a daunting task it can be at times.
If you ever served on an apparatus design committee, you know what a daunting task it can be at times. Can you imagine what it’s like for the largest fire department in the United States?

According to Mark Aronberg, the deputy commissioner in charge of FDNY’s Fleet Management Division,” The design of a new piece of apparatus for our department takes a great deal of work for our apparatus design committee and usually takes a few years for a project from idea to actually taking delivery. This is especially true if the design is unique and not a standard engine or ladder.” The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) has a Fleet Management Division that has the task of managing a fleet of more than 2,000 vehicles, fiscal year capital and expenses of more than $100 million, and an on-hand parts inventory of several manufacturers of more than 3 million. In addition, it is responsible for fleet maintenance, towing, materials management, vehicle procurement, vehicle allocation, data tracking, and fleet analysis.

“We are dealing with a large city, and we work on a 37-month calendar to get approval from all city departments. Typically, we have to see where funding will come from, if it’s from the city capital budget; then the proper paperwork has to be filed, we have to obtain a purchase order, etc. Because it was deemed a firefighting vehicle for hazmat incidents, we were able to secure federal funding in the form of a grant for the purchase of this unique pumper,” Aronberg explains.

 Ferrara Inferno high-volume water and foam pumper. (Photos courtesy of Ferrara Fire Apparatus.)

 Pump panel with Akron electric discharges and 8-inch LDH inlets.

 Williams Fire & Hazard Control top-mounted wireless deluge gun.

The idea for this unit came from Haz Mat Command. It was determined that FDNY needed a high-volume pumper to respond to incidents that may involve airport fuel tank farms (at JFK and LaGuardia Airports), gasoline tankers on the road, and industrial target hazards around the city’s five boroughs. “Basically, we needed more water and foam capabilities to combat a large incident if needed,” Aronberg adds.

The committee traveled to the Ferrara plant in Louisiana to look at an industrial pumper Ferrara was building and testing. FDNY wanted a vehicle that would have a smaller cab for a shorter wheelbase for more maneuverability as well as one that fit in one of the fire stations, since it would probably be a second piece when responding. FDNY used Ferrara numerous times in the past with other specialized units as well as rear-mount ladders and heavy rescues.

“After looking at the operation of the vehicle Ferrara was testing, we decided to go with a unit that had a Ferrara Inferno cab. We changed the drivetrain and went with Dana axles that we had on other apparatus,” Aronberg says. It has a 5,250-gpm US Fire Pump that relies on a drafting system that has a floating water-based pump. The hosebed carries 2,600 feet of large-diameter hose, the same that FDNY satellite units respond with. The top of the vehicle has a large Williams electric deluge gun with two smaller TFT guns on the rear of the unit and a 1,000-gallon Class A foam tank.

 Side-mounted hard suction hose on both sides of the vehicle.

 Rear-mounted TFT Monsoon deck guns electrically controlled.

The pumper carries 3 10-foot × 8-inch lengths of hard suction hose on each side of the body and two 6-foot and two 3-inch discharges on the officer’s side. The officer’s side also has a 3-inch foam inlet, two 8-inch inlets, a 2½-inch foam inlet, and a 2½-inch foam discharge. The driver’s side of the vehicle has two 8-inch inlets, 3-inch suction, and a 3-inch foam inlet. The rear has two 6-inch discharges and two 4-inch TFT Monsoon remote control deck guns.

While Ferrara is calling it the FDNY Super Pumper, the FDNY has not designated a call sign that resembles the Mack-built Super Pumper that was a two-piece unit that responded in the 1970s. As of this writing, it hasn’t been determined where the new unit will be based or how the dispatch policy will have the unit respond.

Designing a special unit such as this high-volume pumper and foam unit took a great deal of work and planning. Taking it from concept to design, building the unit, testing, and then final delivery was a well-engineered feat. While the unit only took Ferrara a year to build, it took several years for the FDNY to bring this concept and design to reality.


BOB VACCARO has more than 40 years of fire service experience. He is a former chief of the Deer Park (NY) Fire Department. Vaccaro has also worked for the Insurance Services Office, the New York Fire Patrol, and several major commercial insurance companies as a senior loss-control consultant. He is a life member of the IAFC.

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