Innovative Rigs on the Street: Sperryville’s Attack Unit

One of the major tenants of our “Innovative Rigs on the Street” series is that while the apparatus can come in all shapes, sizes and models, the end result is that new apparatus fully meets the needs of the fire department and the community. With...


One of the major tenants of our “Innovative Rigs on the Street” series is that while the apparatus can come in all shapes, sizes and models, the end result is that new apparatus fully meets the needs of the fire department and the community. With the current economic climate in our country many departments are being asked to provide more services while contending with decreased budgets and funding for new capital expenditures. In some cases the need for a new apparatus is readily apparent; however there is insufficient funding to meet the need. While this may be a temporary setback, there are several alternatives to the purchase of a full custom chassis apparatus, including the use of a commercial chassis, especially when a short wheelbase four-door cab unit is required. In last month’s article, we featured a Class-8 commercial chassis pumper for the North Bailey, NY, Fire Department. In this month’s article we travel to Sperryville, VA, to detail their well-designed apparatus designated as Attack 2. Sperryville is located in Rappahannock County, VA, near the Blue Ridge Parkway and operates a unique apparatus fleet of new and used units.

The Sperryville Volunteer Fire Department was chartered in 1947 to become the second fire company in Rappahannock County. Their first apparatus was a 1938 USA model 750 gpm pumper built for the US Army at Fort Holibird, MD. Like many apparatus of that era there was no windshield, cab doors or roof for protection against the elements. After operating several used units purchased from other departments, the department received their first new apparatus in 1957 with the delivery of an FWD model S-750 pumper equipped with twin booster reels and a much-needed closed cab.

Over the years the Sperryville Volunteer Fire Department has operated an apparatus fleet with a combination of both new and used units. The department acquired a 1975 Kenworth pumper tanker with Howe bodywork from Long Grove, IL, and placed the unit into service as Tanker 2. At one time the department operated several units acquired from Fairfax County, VA, including a 1971 Seagrave PB model 1000 gpm pumper and a 1986 Pierce Arrow 1250 gpm pumper that was operated by the department in McLean, VA.

Today, the Sperryville Volunteer Fire Department is under the command of Chief Richie Burke and responds annually to approximately 200 incidents. The department maintains an active membership of 25 personnel with six pieces of apparatus. The current fleet of apparatus operates from a single station and consists of a 1995 Pierce Lance 1500 gpm pumper that was formerly operated by the Columbia Engine Company in Oceanside, NY. Rescue Engine 2 was acquired from Oceanside during 2007 and is equipped with hydraulic rescue tools, air bags, and stabilization jacks along with a full compliment of engine company equipment. Engine Tanker 2 was purchased new during 2006 and is a Spartan Gladiator 4x4 chassis with bodywork by Four Guys Fire Apparatus. This unit carries a 1500 gpm pump, 1500-gallon water tank together with a 30-gallon foam tank and three quick dumps. Both of these units feature stainless steel bodies and air-actuated aluminum tread plate hose bed covers.

Other units currently operated by the department include a 1983 and 1997 Ford F series pickups, equipped with slide-on skid units for brush fire duty, and a 2010 Ford F-350 four-door cab unit assigned as Utility 2. The stations newest unit operating as Attack 2 is a 2010 International four-door cab pumper with bodywork constructed by Four Guys Fire Apparatus.

The first due area for Company 2 is quite rugged and required the design of a four-wheel drive chassis with adequate ground clearance to operate in off-road locations. Working with the department’s apparatus committee Chief Burke developed a set of bid specifications that clearly outlined the design requirements for the new apparatus without restricting competitive bidding. The department received four bids on the project with the result being a contract award to Four Guys for the new rig. From this point the fire department worked closely with Bob Purcell, the local Four Guys representative, during the manufacturing process to insure that all of portions of the specifications were properly executed.

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