Innovative Rigs on the Street: Fuller Road’s 100-foot Tower

In last month’s installment of Innovative Rigs on the Street, we featured a new Sutphen pumper built for the Fuller Road Fire Department in the Town of Colonie, NY. Over the years, the town’s 12 fire departments have worked together on a number of...


In last month’s installment of Innovative Rigs on the Street, we featured a new Sutphen pumper built for the Fuller Road Fire Department in the Town of Colonie, NY. Over the years, the town’s 12 fire departments have worked together on a number of initiatives, including a phantom box-alarm system, joint training programs and automatic-aid dispatching. Several fire companies on the south side of Colonie worked together to provide apparatus and staffing resources that would provide for the response of specifically designated units for structural fires and other incidents.

Like many departments, over a period of years each station’s apparatus fleet seemed to grow in size to include multiple pieces of engine, ladder and rescue apparatus. Careful analysis of each fire company’s fleet included a review of the acquisition costs, insurance, maintenance and other operational considerations. The result was that two of the stations agreed to give up their stand alone rescue units in exchange for another company reducing the size of its fleet by the removal of a ladder truck. The alarm assignments were then altered to provide for the automatic response of the closest available ladder and rescue unit to alarms, which would also ensure adequate staffing for the responding apparatus. After many years of operations, this program has proven to be beneficial to the respective departments and has sharpened the training requirements for fire company members.

The Fuller Road Fire Department, organized in October 1926, placed its first ladder company into service in 1972 with the delivery of Sutphen 85-foot aerial tower. Equipped with a heavy compliment of ground ladders, Truck 3 served the department until 1991 when it was replaced with a second Sutphen tower. The second version was equipped with many features that could not have been conceived of some 20 years earlier with a four-door, such as a climate-controlled cab, electronic interlocks and enhanced warning lights. As Truck 3 protects its first-due area, the unit also regularly responds to incidents with the Colonie Village, Midway, Shaker Road-Loudonville and West Albany fire companies.

The latest aerial device to serve the Fuller Road Fire Department was placed into service during 2009 with the delivery of a new Sutphen SPH-100 mid-mount tower. The department worked closely with Sutphen representative Phil Vander Molen to refine the design for the apparatus, which incorporates a fire pump, water tank and a compliment of ground ladders, in addition to an extensive array of hand tools and equipment.

Truck 3 is built on a wheelbase of 236 inches with an overall length of 46 feet, 4 inches. The overall height on the units is 11 feet, 6 inches to the top of the tower handrails. The aluminum cab provides seating for eight personnel with five seats equipped with self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs). For enhanced safety a Firecom headset intercom is provided, together with Zico back-up lights located in the rear fender panels and Britax cornering lights mounted at the back body corner on each side. All running and warning lights are LED style to reduce the electrical load on the apparatus.

The apparatus is equipped with a Meritor MFS front axle rated at 22,000 pounds together with a 48,000-pound rated rear axle equipped with Raydan air-ride suspension. Braking is provided by S-cam brakes on the front and rear, together with a Jacobs engine brake for auxiliary braking capability. The engine is powered by a Cummins ISM engine rated at 500 horsepower with an Allison EVS-4000 automatic transmission. The chassis exhaust system was designed to adapt to a Plymovent system installed in the fire station.

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