By Bob Vaccaro
See Rosenbauer in Product Connect
Published Monday, August 13, 2012
| From the October 2012 Issue of FireRescue
When the Oakdale (Minn.) Fire Department (OFD) planned their next apparatus purchase, they certainly didn’t anticipate purchasing a brand-new model of cab and chassis—one that had yet to be manufactured, even as a prototype. Yet, that’s exactly what happened when the OFD became the first department to order Rosenbauer’s new Commander.
The Right Fit
Going with Rosenbauer for the department’s new purchase was an obvious choice; the OFD has been buying Rosenbauer apparatus since the 1980s. “When we began the process of deciding to build a new pumper for our district, we originally specced out a Rosenbauer with a Spartan cab and chassis,” says OFD Chief Jeff Anderson. “Because of a business decision, the Spartan chassis was being discontinued from Rosenbauer. So we were given the option of bidding on their new chassis called the Commander.”
The OFD replaces vehicles on a 20-year cycle and uses competitive bidding for the process. “Replacing one vehicle every four years is the norm for us, and we were right on schedule this time around,” Anderson says. “Only one bid was received, and it was from Rosenbauer. They met all of our specs.”
Anderson notes some other reasons for choosing Rosenbauer: “They’re only a 30-minute drive from our community, making trips to view the manufacture of the vehicle easier for us; our city council is big on purchasing from local companies; and we have had a long history with the company with great service, maintenance and operation of the vehicles.”
What made this purchase unique is that the OFD bought the new vehicle after having only seen engineering drawings and artist renderings of the new cab and chassis. “This was a first for us and a first for Rosenbauer, since this was the first truck built of their new design,” Anderson says. “Because of the 30-mile proximity of the factory, we were able to see the vehicle take shape right from the beginning.”
OFD members visited the Rosenbauer factory approximately a dozen times to make sure everything was going OK for the build. “Rosenbauer didn’t restrict the number of visits we could make at all,” Anderson says. “After the cab and chassis were built, we were able to drive it around before the body was even installed.”
For the design of the vehicle, the OFD worked off specs from its 2004 Rosenbauer engine and added some features. “I have 10 years of previous experience in the apparatus industry myself, so I worked with the local dealer on the design of the vehicle right from the start,” Anderson says.
The apparatus features a 750-gallon tank, upgraded from a 500-gallon on the older engine. “The vehicle will be used in some non-hydranted areas, so the added water was a plus for us,” Anderson says. “Even though the truck is 18 inches longer than the older vehicle, the wheelbase is better. We split one large compartment into two smaller ones, and added a 6' slide-out tray for stabilization equipment.” There are also two hydraulic reels, a full complement of hydraulic rescue tools, a 10-kW hydraulic generator and a SuperVac Command light tower.
“As with our other vehicle, we specified a rear-mount pump, which our firefighters like, as well as a stainless-steel body for the harsh Minnesota winters,” Anderson says.
The OFD took delivery of the new Commander in May; it has been in service for several months and has been used on several structure fires, car fires and a few hazmat calls. Anderson says the overall operation is excellent.
“We are extremely happy choosing the Commander,” Anderson says. “The cab proved to be roomy, with better A/C and heat, as well as giving a great ride. The local dealer, General Safety Fire Apparatus, has an office at the Rosenbauer factory in Minnesota, so they had eyes on the build right from the beginning. Other than a few minor details, the manufacture and delivery were flawless. And service after the sale was great.”
The Way You Want It
Not every fire department has a chief with experience in the fire apparatus industry like Anderson, but you can still have a positive apparatus purchase and build experience if you determine what you want ahead of time.
This proactive fire department was able to successfully take a new, unseen and unproven cab and chassis from development to use in less than a year—that’s not an easy task. What worked in their favor was their proximity to the factory and ability to make numerous visits to ensure the new design would work for them.
When designing a new piece of apparatus, design for your needs and also for your budget. What are your target hazards? Do you have non-hydranted areas in your response district? Can you purchase from a local manufacturer, or must you travel a great distance for factory visits? In any case, make sure the company is willing to let you visit as many times as you wish to make sure you are getting what you pay for. It you can’t afford to travel with your committee, some manufacturers will take detailed photos of every part of the vehicle as it is being built, so you can check it out on your computer.
The old saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Make sure your next apparatus purchase goes the way you want it.
Sidebar: Oakdale’s New Commander Specs
- Rosenbauer Commander chassis with a stainless-steel body
- 1,250-gpm Waterous CX pump
- 750-gallon Poly tank
- Rear-mount pump
- 360-hp Cummins ISC diesel engine
- Allison EVS 3000 automatic transmission
- Whelen LED light package
Sidebar: Oakdale (Minn.) Fire Department Response Area
The Oakdale Fire Department protects an area that’s 14 square miles in size with a population of 28,000. The area is primarily a bedroom community to St. Paul and consists of numerous retail establishments, apartments, townhouses and dwellings, as well as some light manufacturing. The OFD has two stations and responds with two 75' quints and three engines.
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