The Mount Horeb Area Joint Fire Department (FDMH) is located in the southwest corner of the state in Dane County. The fire district covers more than 132 square miles and two villages and eight municipalities with a population of 13,000.
The department operates out of a single station with eight full-time firefighters and 70 volunteers. The response area includes a large rural area, ski lodges, major highways, residential areas, and light industrial and commercial areas.
The department was established in 1890, and its apparatus have always been state of the art. All are painted in a unique safety black with gold trim. Another touch of tradition, borrowed from the Chicago (IL) Fire Department, is that warning lights on many of the vehicles are red and green. Red and green lights have a strong history with the Navy, representing the port and starboard sides of a ship.
According to Captain Mike Kellesvig and Apparatus Foreman Ryan Peterson, “FDMH has had a 25-year replacement policy for all of its apparatus. Because of increased call volume and maintenance issues, it was lowered to 20 years. In the future, it may have to be adjusted again.”
They continue: “All our apparatus is funded through tax dollars out of the capital reserve fund for apparatus finances. We never have had to take a loan. We began working on the new replacement vehicle about two years ago. We went out to bid and, as in the past, we restricted the bidding to only manufacturers located in Wisconsin.”
“Our district received three bids, and Pierce was chosen to be the ultimate winner. We have dealt with Pierce in the past, so it would be a good match for us this time around as well. Our older rig would be sold on a surplus auction site, giving us more cash for equipment.”
1 FDMH’s pumper-tender-squad built on a Pierce Quantum six-member cab. (Photos courtesy of FDMH.)
2 The simple pump panel with vertical discharge handles.
3 Forcible entry tools on swinging tool boards.
“The new pumper-tender-squad has a bigger tank—2,500 gallons up from 2,000 gallons. It is well laid out as far as hose is concerned, more and bigger compartmentation and tool mounting. We went with a stainless-steel body and a six-member cab,” they add. The rear body has a diamond plate hosebed cover and solid compartment doors. All the ground ladders are also enclosed.
Since it will also act as a squad vehicle and respond to auto accidents, the rig has a full complement of battery-powered Holmatro extrication equipment consisting of cutters and spreaders and related equipment. Also carried are struts, air bags, cribbing, and a light tower. Additional truck company and engine company tools and fittings are also located on the vehicle.
Hoselays on the pumper are as follows: 1,000 feet of 4-inch large-diameter hose, 200 feet of 1¾-inch hose off the rear, 200 feet of 2½-inch hose connected to a TFT Blitz fire nozzle, 200 feet of 3-inch hose connected to a wye, crosslays—200 feet of 1¾-inch hose and 200 feet of 1¾-inch hose in the front bumper.
The rig has a Whelen lighting package with scene and floodlighting. All go to a low intensity when the vehicle is parked. Lighted handrails were spec’d as well.
4 The compartment containing battery-powered extrication tools.
5 The rear of the vehicle showing the enclosed ladder compartment and diamond plate hosebed cover.
“Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, our committee couldn’t visit the factory until the vehicle was finished and on the blue floor out at Pierce. We relied heavily on weekly photos and videos that Pierce provided to see the build taking place. We were grateful that there weren’t any major discrepancies, only a few tweaks here and there,” they add. “The engineers at Pierce and the local dealer helped us out a great deal with the design and manufacture of this unique vehicle. In the end, the vehicle turned out really well, and it should operate and last for a long time.”
FDMH planned well for this build, taking into consideration the varied response district and carrying extra water supply, extrication tools, hose, and engine and truck company tools. The vehicle was designed to be a multimission apparatus that could handle just about anything in the large response district.
When planning for a future build for your community, always think ahead. Designing a large vehicle like this can sometimes be daunting. However, design it to carry present equipment, hose, and tools but also to have enough space for the future use.
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.