Innovative Apparatus on the Street: Upper Frankford's Rural-Ready Pumper

There are many areas of the country where innovative pieces of apparatus can be found. Some of these vehicles are older, used units which were acquired and then heavily modified to meet local conditions and budget requirements. Others are brand new rigs...


There are many areas of the country where innovative pieces of apparatus can be found. Some of these vehicles are older, used units which were acquired and then heavily modified to meet local conditions and budget requirements. Others are brand new rigs which represent the latest in technology and safety and typically are larger and heavier in size than their earlier counterparts. Whether old or new, well-designed engine company apparatus should be set up to provide safety for the crew as well as provide a good accounting of itself on the fireground by carrying a number of pre-connected attack lines and appliances to develop the needed fire flow at incidents.

Our "Innovative Rigs on the Street" series started last year with a review of an engine company in Carlisle, PA in Cumberland County. A little farther to the west of Carlisle lays the Upper Frankford Fire Company which operates as Company 48 in Cumberland County. This fire company was organized in February, 1950 and originally operated with a used Dodge pumper that had been modified to carry a 350-gallon water tank for rural water supply. In later years the department acquired a 1967 American LaFrance 750-gpm pumper from Carlisle and rebuilt the apparatus by adding a Harrisburg Blitz Box which provided the unit with five crosslay hose beds. By the early 1980's the station was operating with a 1982 Ford/FMC pumper, a department built tanker on a 1975 Ford chassis and a classic 1952 Dodge brush unit that had been acquired thru the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry.

Today the Upper Frankford Fire Company is under the command of Chief James Salisbury II and protects all of Upper Frankford Township in addition to areas of Lower Mifflin, North Newton, Penn Township and West Pennsboro Township where the fire company responds in conjunction with the box alarm system utilized in Cumberland County. The department's current fleet of apparatus includes Engine 148, a 2008 KME Predator Challenger pumper, Engine 248 a Spartan Gladiator Four Guys engine-tanker equipped with a 1750-gpm pump and a 2000-gallon water tank and Brush 48, a 2000 Ford F-350 chassis equipped with a utility body carrying a Darley 150-gallon skid unit. Support units include a Chevy Suburban which is outfitted as an EMS first response unit and a 2009 Ford F-250 pick up which is utilized as a traffic control unit.

The newest apparatus, Engine 148, was designed by the members of the department's truck committee working closely with the local KME representative Lo Barrick. This unit has some unique features including a stainless steel body with a full-width hose bed that incorporates enclosed tunnel storage for both ground ladders and hard suction hose with over 260 cubic feet of enclosed compartment storage space. The apparatus is built on a 192-inch wheelbase with an overall length of 31 feet, 11 inches. The full-width hose bed design allowed for the unit to carry a wide assortment of attack lines, generator and light tower while maintaining an overall height of just 111 inches.

In And Around The Cab

The apparatus is powered by a Caterpillar model C-9 engine rated at 425-horsepower using a Caterpillar model CX-28 five-speed transmission. The front axle is rated for 21,400 pounds with the rear axle rated at 31,000 pounds. The Predator medium extended cab provides seating for six personnel with five seats equipped with secured SCBA brackets for the protection of the crew. The 12-inch raised roof provides approximately 65.50 inches of interior headroom height with an overall cab width of 96 inches.

The front bumper is equipped with a 5-inch front suction with a swivel as well as a 2-inch front trashline that carries 150 feet of 1-inch forestry hose in an enclosed aluminum tread plate compartment. In order to provide sufficient room for these components as well as the Federal Q-2B siren, air horns and electronic siren speaker, a 20-inch bumper extension was required.

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