Approximately 2 years ago, the chiefs and members of the Temple (Pa.) Fire Company (TFC) decided it was time to replace its 1986 Hahn/Saulsbury heavy-rescue truck. The truck had begun to rust and corrode, and the department needed more space to handle its upgraded cache of equipment.
Unlike many apparatus purchases these days, finances weren’t a problem for the TFC: The truck was funded by the apparatus replacement program from Muhlenberg Township, as well as a 2 percent loan from the state of Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, the TFC took the time to put together well-thought-out specs for a design that’s uniquely built to its needs—and made sure it got the most for its money.
The Cab Is Key
The TFC formed an apparatus committee several years ago to begin the work on the specs for the new heavy-rescue. “Not only did we want a larger body to handle additional equipment, but we wanted an extended cab that could hold eight firefighters with room to spare,” says Chief Mark George. “The Spartan Gladiator cab gave us that option. The cab also serves as a command area and a rehab area because it’s climate-controlled.” The truck was also designed to be part of the Berks County Rapid Intervention Team, which increases its mutual-aid responses, so having the extra space was a must.
The 10-person committee consisted of chiefs, officers and firefighters. “Everyone could have some input into the design of the vehicle,” George says. “We visited various shows, such as Fire Expo in Harrisburg and Firehouse Expo in Baltimore, just to see what was out there.”
The local Spartan dealer, Spitler Ambulance and Rescue, brought a demo chassis with a Spartan cab to the firehouse. “Even though it didn’t have a body constructed on the chassis, we had a better idea of the size of the cab,” George says. “Everyone had a chance to sit in the rear of the cab and drive the vehicle.”
The TFC evaluated various manufacturers and eventually settled on Rescue 1. “They are roughly a 2 ½-hour drive from our response area, which made it easy for us to visit the factory,” George says. “Our committee toured the factory and spoke to the owner before we made our decision to buy from them. It’s a great family organization, and we liked that. We were also sold on their quality and workmanship, right down to the factory tool mounting.”
Bigger & Better
The new Rescue 11 is designed to serve the department well into the future. “Our older rescue had an 18′ body, and the new vehicle has a 24′ body,” George says. “That extra 6 feet gives us a great deal more space to work with.” The new rig also features rooftop coffin compartments that can be safely accessed via a sturdy rear step area, and additional storage behind the steps that’s accessed with the push of a button.
It’s not unheard of for departments to spec vehicles bigger than they can house, but the TFC was ready for the expansion. “We had built a new firehouse in 2005, so space for the vehicle was not a problem,” George says. “The larger cab and body fit well.”
During the build process, the department visited the Rescue 1 factory about six times to watch the vehicle take shape. “We spent an additional 2 days there after it was completed, for the tool mounting,” George says. “We used some equipment we had from the old rescue, but also purchased additional tools, such as new Paratech struts, new rope and flotation devices and some new Hurst equipment.” Also installed: an Eagle Air SCBA refilling station, thermal imaging cameras, headsets and radios.
“The tool mounting was done with a great deal of precision,” George says. “There is virtually no wasted space in any compartment. Each tool has a specific spot. All of this was performed at the factory in record time.”
The build time for the entire vehicle: 7 months. The TFC reports great satisfaction with the service the local dealer provided during and after the sale.
The TFC also took steps to ensure all personnel were ready for the bigger vehicle. “All of our drivers have gone through an extensive driver training program, and they all must have a CDL in order to drive our vehicles,” George says. “We have a lot of money invested in this equipment, and we want to make sure that all of our drivers can handle the vehicle and its weight properly.”
For Years to Come
The TFC designed a vehicle with larger space not only for equipment storage, but for the safety and comfort of its firefighters. Actually seeing and driving a vehicle before the body was installed was unique; not all manufacturers will give you that option. Even though the TFC already knew they wanted the Spartan cab, seeing it firsthand and knowing how it would ride before they bought it was reassuring.
The fact that the TFC had recently built a fire station eliminated the potential hazard that the truck would be too big for the station. The department was also able to use existing equipment and had enough finances to purchase additional equipment to maximize the vehicle’s capabilities.
Proper planning, a great deal of input from all members, and a receptive manufacturer and dealer made this purchase go well. Equipment mounting was done with great detail and room to spare. The result: The TFC has a new vehicle that will serve it well into the future.
Temple Fire Company Rescue 11
- Spartan Gladiator chassis with tandem rear axles
- 24′ 4″ stainless-steel body
- 515-hp Detroit Series 60 engine
- Allison 4000 EVS automatic transmission
- Weldon V-Mux electrical system
- 35-kW Onan PTO generator
- 20′ Wilburt light mast with 9,000-watt FRC focus lights
- Eagle Air Safestation X2 cascade station
- Front-bumper-mounted Hurst Combi-Tool and electric sawzall with Akron electrical and hydraulic reels
- Curb side retractable awnings
LED lighting package