By Bob Vaccaro
Published Monday, December 31, 2007
| From the January 2008 Issue of FireRescue
As most of you who regularly read my column know, I like to seek out unique and unusual apparatus to report about. While attending FDIC 2007, I found what I was looking for: a large heavy-rescue unit manufactured by American LaFrance (ALF). Or so I thought.
After further examination, I realized what I really stumbled upon was not only a heavy-rescue, but a pumper and a command post as well. The vehicle not only has a 1,250-gpm pump and a 750-gallon water tank, but it also sports a hosebed in the rear.
Who lays claim to this unique rig? The Odessa (Del.) Fire Company (OFC).
Chief Ken Getty and the members of the OFC were in the market for a new heavy-rescue to replace their 1986 Saulsbury walk-in rescue, which also featured a 500-gpm pump and 50-gallon water tank. Logging in more than 20 years of service, it was due to be replaced. And to replace it, the OFC wanted a vehicle that could do it all, maximizing the use of limited manpower and response capabilities.
“We have a large, diverse first-alarm area,” Getty says. The company covers 48 square miles, featuring a combination of light industrial structures and 3,000–4,000-square-foot homes constructed on 1-acre lots. Also thrown into the mix are two major, heavily traveled roads, U.S. 1 and U.S. 13. “We respond to numerous entrapments on these two roads alone,” Getty notes. “In addition, our responses are primarily half fires and half heavy-rescue. So we figured, why not build a vehicle that could respond to both?”
The OFC’s apparatus committee is composed of nine members: Getty, a deputy chief, a chief engineer, the vice president of the company, two engineers (pump operators), two other fire officers and the rescue captain. “We looked at four different vendors,” Getty says. “Initially we were looking at standard, single-axle, 1,000-gpm rescue-type pumpers. After some discussion, we decided to add a second axle, so we could carry more water.”
The committee also decided to design the vehicle as a half walk-in and half walk-around. “We use the inside portion of the vehicle as a command post and as a rehab area in the winter and summer months,” Getty says.
Designing the apparatus, writing the specs and completing the vehicle took approximately 3 years. “It was a pleasure dealing with our local ALF dealer, Delmarva Pump Service, as well as ALF itself,” Getty says. “It took a little under a year for the vehicle to be built at the Hamburg, N.Y., ALF plant. ALF met all of our specs and were the first to build a front bumper, 1" booster line with a stainless-steel reel. We also chose stainless steel for the body.”
Representatives from the OFC apparatus committee made several trips to the factory during the building process. “We met with the engineers in our station three or four times, had a pre-build conference at the factory and then visited the factory two times to see the chassis, one time to examine the body and one time for final inspection,” Getty says.
After receiving the vehicle, the OFC sent it to Delmarva Fire Apparatus for tool mounting. “Their mounting made all the difference in the world,” Getty says. “Each compartment and mount was made for the individual tools. We even have space left over for future use.”
The command post area of the vehicle is set up with multiple VHF and UHF radios, a computer, DVD and CD players and a small refrigerator for the rehab area.
“The best thing about this vehicle is that we can do just about anything with it,” Getty says. One side of the vehicle is set up for firefighting and the other side is set up for heavy rescue. The truck has four built-in Hurst hydraulic lines for rescue tool operation. So no matter how the vehicle is positioned, firefighters have access to two or more tools. The rig can also respond as a pumper. It carries 400 feet of 4" supply line, 400 feet of 3" supply line and two 1 3⁄4" attack lines of 250 feet each.
“Although most other manufacturers said it could not be done, ALF said it could,” Getty says. “And they built it the way we wanted. It has been used on numerous runs since we took delivery and we have not had any problems.”
A little creativity on the part of Chief Getty and the OFC produced a vehicle that does more with less. It’s functional and meets the company’s needs, no matter the response.
If you’re looking to build a new heavy-rescue unit for your community, take some notes from this progressive department and design for functionality, not just show. We’re all facing low manpower and slower response. Why not design a vehicle to combine functions and serve as a multitasker for your first-in district?
Odessa Fire Company's ALF Heavy-Rescue/Pumper/Command Vehicle
- American LaFrance Eagle chassis
- Stainless-steel rescue body
- 550-hp Caterpillar C-13 diesel engine
- Allison 4000 EVS transmission
- 1,250-gpm Hale rear-mount pump
- 750-gallon polyproylene tank
- 30-kW Harrison generator
- 25', 6,000-watt Wilburt light mast
- Four-bottle "space saver" SCBA cascade system
- Four preconnected Hurst hydraulic lines (200 feet each)
- Front bumper booster line and portable Hurst unit
- 12,000-lb. winch
Odessa Fire Company Stations 4 & 24
- Engine 4-5: 1991 Grumman with 1,500-gpm pump and 1,000-gallon tank
- Rescue 4: 1995 E-One Freightliner with 1,500-gpm pump and 1,000-gallon tank; carries Hurst tools
- Utility 4: 2006 Ford Expedition rehab services vehicle that tows FDU-4
- FDU-4: 2005 18' trailer for hazmat/decon/WMD
- Engine 24-3: E-One Freightliner with 1,500-gpm pump and 1,000-gallon tank
- Tanker 24: 1991 Grumman/Duplex with 1,750-gpm pump and 3,000-gallon tank
- Rescue 24: 2007 American LaFrance with 1,250-gpm pump and 750-gallon tank
- Brush 24-0: 2001 Ford skid-mount with 250-gpm pump and 250-gallon tank
- Command 24: 1999 Ford Expedition command vehicle
- 2004 and 2005 Chevy Lifeline ambulances
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