Innovative Rigs on the Street: Coronado's Tiller

The City of Coronado was incorporated in 1890 and in one of the most desired vacation destinations in the United States. Also known as Coronado Island, the city is located in San Diego County and is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay. The...


The City of Coronado was incorporated in 1890 and in one of the most desired vacation destinations in the United States. Also known as Coronado Island, the city is located in San Diego County and is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay. The city land area covers approximately eight square miles with over 24 square miles of water. Originally, Coronado was separated from North Island, which was occupied by the U.S. Naval Air Station. During World War II, the water channel known as the Spanish Bight was filled in and allowed easier access to the area. In 1969, the Coronado Bridge was opened, which permitted faster transit to the community. Coronado is Spanish for “the crowned one,” and is nicknamed The Crown City.

One of the most famous structures within Coronado is the Hotel del Coronado, which was built in 1888 and is listed on the register of National Historic Landmarks. Over the years, in addition to being a vacation destination the hotel, has hosted guests such as Thomas Edison, Babe Ruth as well as many of our presidents over the years.

The city population of 18,900 is protected by the Coronado Fire Department, which operates from two fire stations and is under the command of Fire Chief John Traylor. The department maintains automatic aid agreements with the neighboring departments, including San Diego, National City, Imperial Beach as well as the Federal Fire Department. The department responded to 2,261 incidents during 2010 and staffs an engine, ladder and medic unit on each shift with 10 personnel and a Division Chief. Response to reported structural fires includes four engines, two ladders, one medic unit and two battalion chiefs. The department maintains several divisions including administration, operations and training, EMS, fire prevention, public education and emergency preparedness.

Over the years, the Coronado Fire Department has operated a number of unique apparatus including a 1953 Mack L-model quad that was equipped with a squirrel tail-style suction that was used extensively by the Long Beach, CA, Fire Department. Engine apparatus included both a 1963 and 1975 Crown Coach units as well as a 2000 Pierce Quantum 1250-gpm pumper. Aerial apparatus that have served with the department include a classic open-cab 1972 Crown Coach, equipped with a Maxim 100-foot midship ladder, together with a 1989 Spartan/General Safety 1250-gpm pumper carrying a 50-foot Tele Squrt water tower. As both of these units were operated as quint apparatus, the department sought to design a combination aerial vehicle when it came time to replace the Tele Squrt apparatus.

The department’s newest pumper was acquired earlier this year and assigned to Engine 36. This vehicle is a Spartan Gladiator chassis with stainless steel bodywork by Crimson Fire. Engine 36 is powered by a Caterpillar C-13 engine rated at 525 horsepower and carries a Hale Qmax 1500-gpm fire pump, 500-gallon water tank together with a 30-gallon foam cell with a Foam Pro 2001 injection system.

After not operating with a full-size aerial ladder apparatus for a few years, the department set out to design a tractor drawn aerial unit for increased maneuverability, which would also be equipped with a fire pump and basic engine company equipment. The result of these efforts lead to the delivery of Truck 37, which operates with a crew of four personnel on all shifts from the department’s station located in Coronado Cays.

Truck 37 is a 2009 Spartan Motors Gladiator model tractor with a Crimson Fire 103-foot aerial ladder. The tractor wheelbase is 170 inches, with a trailer wheelbase of 346 inches and an overall vehicle length of 60 feet, 3 inches. The overall height of the unit is 11 feet, 6 inches at the top of the tiller cab enclosure. The vehicle is powered by a Caterpillar C-13 engine rated at 525 horsepower through an Allison EVS-4000 transmission.

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