During the 1940s, several manufacturers recognized that when World War II ended, there would be an unprecedented need for new fire apparatus in most communities. As most industrial capacity was focused on supplying armaments and supplies for the war effort, few apparatus were available for municipal departments. Companies like American and Ward LaFrance, Hahn, Maxim and Mack turned out hundreds of wartime apparatus to protect military bases both at home and abroad. When World War II ended, in September of 1945, the fire apparatus industry returned their efforts to peacetime production of new apparatus.
As a result of these influences several manufacturers produced a radically new style of apparatus to capture the market and to encourage municipalities to renew their aging apparatus fleets. American LaFrance introduced their 700 series units, which for the first time put the driver and officers’ seats ahead of the engine compartment. They built hundreds of these short wheelbase units in both open- and closed-cab configurations. This new design, together with those introduced by other builders, were truly “Concept Vehicles” in that they radically changed the overall design of apparatus being purchased and subsequently influenced the design of units for many years.
In 1984, the Young Fire Equipment Company built the first four-door cab pumper equipped with a raised roof, midship engine and crankshaft driven 1,250-gpm fire pump. This pumper was equipped with eight preconnected attack lines and was displayed at many fire shows through the year to introduce fire departments to another “Concept Vehicle” that once again changed the minds of many fire service leaders.
In 2007, Pierce Manufacturing introduced what I would consider another version of a “Concept Vehicle” with the unveiling of the Pierce Ultimate Configuration (PUC) pumper. Like some of the earlier concept apparatus, the PUC is offered with shorter wheelbases (as low as 172 inches) by incorporating the fire pump under the cab with a non-traditional pump panel location that saves on both weight and compartment space within the apparatus body. The PUC design has been well received with more than 450 units delivered since its introduction. Our Innovative Apparatus for October was found operating with the Monroe Fire Company in Cumberland County, PA. What set this unit apart from others is the well-executed plan to locate and mount hose, tools and appliances on their new Pierce Arrow XT PUC pumper.
The Monroe Fire Company operates as Company 25 in Cumberland County and provides fire protection and emergency medical services (EMS) to the more than 5,500 people in a first due area of some 26.5 square miles. The volunteer fire company was founded in 1937 with its history dating back to as far as 1860. Today, the department is under the command of Chief David A. Heckert and operates from a single fire station located at 1225 Peffer Road in the Village of Churchtown. The fire company annually responds to more than 250 incidents in their first due area and other areas within Cumberland County.
Over the years the Monroe Fire Department has operated a unique fleet of apparatus, including several large capacity pumper tankers that could only be described as “massive.” One of the earliest units was a 1953 Reo/Luverne pumper that was modified by department members with the installation of a Harrisburg Blitz Box to provide four preconnected crosslay attack lines. In 1979, a Ford C model Grumman pumper was placed into service followed by a Mack R model canopy cab pumper tanker that carried 2,000 gallons of water on a tandem axle chassis. New engine apparatus were acquired in 1989 with the delivery of an Emergency One pumper on a Spartan Gladiator chassis equipped with a 2,000-gpm pump with a 1,000-gallon tank. This unit was replaced in 2001 with another Emergency One pumper equipped with CAFS and a 750-gallon tank. Tanker 25 received a new Emergency One tandem axle apparatus in 1996 and carried 3,000 gallons of water with a 500-gpm pump. In 1992, the department took delivery of a Ford F-450 chassis with Emergency One bodywork as Mini Pumper 25.