Innovative Rigs on the Street: Bowmansville’s Aerial Tower

Innovative rigs can come in all shapes and sizes and often with very different intended purposes for which they were acquired. In our Innovative Rigs on the Street series so far we have reviewed three pumpers, one CAFS equipped pumper, a tractor drawn...


Innovative rigs can come in all shapes and sizes and often with very different intended purposes for which they were acquired. In our Innovative Rigs on the Street series so far we have reviewed three pumpers, one CAFS equipped pumper, a tractor drawn aerial ladder and a brush unit designed to operate in the urban interface.

A common thread with each of the previously mentioned units was that the new apparatus was intended to replace an existing, in service rig. Each of the these departments all had the advantage of having an older apparatus from which they were able to leverage their experience to help in the design of the new apparatus.

This month we visit with Bowmansville, NY, where they recently took delivery of their first aerial device when they placed into service a Sutphen SPH-100 midship aerial tower.

The Bowmansville Volunteer Fire Association was formed back in September of 1912 and purchased their first apparatus, a horse drawn hose and chemical wagon with proceeds from a weekend picnic. Like many departments Bowmansville's first motorized rig was a Ford model T which carried chemical tanks, booster hose and several ladders. In later years the department operated a fleet of three pumpers and tankers built on Diamond T chassis with bodywork by Darley. Bowmansville was also a good customer of Young Fire Apparatus over the years and operated a 1975 and twin 1986 Ford C model Young pumpers.

The Department Today

The department annually responds to over 680 runs and is under the command of Chief Tom Trzepacz. The current fleet of apparatus operates from two stations consists of a 1999 and a 2001 Emergency One Cyclone II pumpers each equipped with fully enclosed top-mount pump panels, 1,000-gallon water tanks with Class A foam systems, a 1996 Freightliner-KME heavy rescue with a walk-in body and two Ford F-550 mini rescue units. A 1986 Ford C model Young 1000 gpm pumper is held in reserve service together with the department's antique pumper, a 1928 Buffalo. In addition the department operates two support units and three chiefs vehicles.

The two Bowmansville fire stations serve the western portion of the Town of Lancaster, including a heavily built up commercial area along Transit Road and Genesee Street. Over the years the first due area had developed with more commercial and light industrial properties which influenced the department's planning and apparatus committee's when deciding what type of aerial device would most benefit the community.

After bringing into the district several different types of aerial apparatus as well as visits to manufacturer's facilities the apparatus committee chose a midship mounted aerial tower vehicle. The Bowmansville apparatus committee recognized the advantages of a midship mount tower in the shorter overall length as compared to a rear-mount device and the improved scrub area particularly when operating at strip stores and large area warehouses. After over a year of research the committee set out to work with the Sutphen Corporation in conjunction with local representative Mr. Tim Norris to design their new aerial tower.

The result of this planning was the delivery of a 2010 Sutphen SPH-100 aerial tower that is now assigned as Truck 1. This unit is powered by a Cummins model ISM engine rated at 500-horsepower through an Allison Generation IV model EVS-4000 five-speed automatic transmission. The midship tower design required a front axle rated for 22,000 pounds with a Meritor RT-48-160 rear axle rated at 48,000 pounds. The front axle is equipped with spring suspension with heavy duty shocks with a Raydan air suspension for the rear axle. The apparatus is equipped with Meritor EX-225 17-inch disc brakes on both the front and rear axles with a Jacobs compression engine brake utilized for auxiliary braking.

The Front Of The Rig

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