1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question Are 4x4 engines worth it?

    My rural, volunteer department has recently been surrounded by 4x4 engines. Two other nearby departments have monstrous 4x4 pumper tankers. One of them is bought on a custom chassis, the other is a freightliner on order. The estimated price $250,000 plus. My question is, why the heck would anyone want to put a quarter of a million dollar truck in a place it needs 4 wheel drive? Imagine how mad the taxpayers would be if you sprung the frame on one of those beasts! We don't have a problem with forest fires and crazy trails to drive on to get to the fires. We have grass fires, where pump and roll and 4x4 on a brush truck really helps, but nothing a full size engine can really chase. The argument has been made that if you can't put out a combine that costs more than the farmer's home, the engine is worthless. I say, that by time we get the call about the combine, 12 minutes after the start of the fire the combine will be gone anyway, just about time you stick that fancy 4x4 engine in the muddy field!

    Please, if you have an opinion on 4x4 engines speak out and tell my why departments think they're so great.


  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    It doesnt have to be only for mudbogging, think how useful it is in two feet of snow.

    Several years ago a mutual aid company had a house fire during a blizzard, they could not even get a brush truck to this fire, the national guard hung up a Hummer trying to get there, finally they called for the Beast, we didnt get there real fast, but we were the only vehicle to make it.

    The Beast was purchased as a water supply unit, it has all wheel drive and a front mount pump so we can nose into ponds and streams, without all wheel drive we could not set up adequate water supply on 70% of our fires.

    The Beast also was used as our rescue pumper for many years, the ground clearance and all wheel drive made it possible for us to drive through the median strip of the highway that we cover.

    We have recently bought a new rescue pumper, and we ordered this one with all wheel drive also.

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    This should show the picture of our new rescue pumper

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    You have to sit down a evaluate YOUR department's needs. How often to you need to go off road with a full size pumper? Maybe a large brush truck would be better?

    I have some friends in Wyoming that have a bunch of open pit coal mines in their dist. Being able to get to the vehicle fire is really important when it is a million dollar dumptruck or loader.

    One of them told me its the only time he's been to a vehicle fire that did $250,000 damage and didn't total the vehicle.

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    That's big bucks!! Down here in Australia, most departments (and there's not many of them!! but they are HUGE) use Isuzu or Hino 4x4 chassis. They're quite capable off road or in the snow and can keep up with the traffic on road. The NSW Rural Fire Service purchases almost exclusively 4x4 Isuzus and the NSW Fire Brigades uses them as pumper/tankers. Alot cheaper than Freightliners or custom chassis.

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Guest


    First off, DO NOT get caught up in the "one-upmanship" that is so prevelant in today's fire service. Here, small volunteer fire depts. are purchasing new custom chassised fire apparatus, when in fact they would never, ever wear out a commericial chassis based on call volume (maybe 1 working fire annually).
    The Four Wheel Drive Auto Corp. of Clintonville, Wis., now Seagrave, once marketed a line of 4X4 fire apparatus and were very popular, especially with rural and suburban depts. from the 20s into the late 60s (the city of Chicago even had a fleet of them). Their 4X4 was/is full-time and had the ability to "lock-up" providing traction to all wheels. They even claimed better steering and handling characteristics because of it. Keep in mind, America's roads were not as improved as they are now.
    As for off-road use, every firefighter that I've talked to said that they would get deeper into trouble using them. This was because of the weight and size of the vehicle. If conditions were dry and the ground firm enough it was okay, but more often than not, they would get hung up and in need of a tow. FWD's seem to have lost popularity after about 1970.
    Pulling a combine out, why?
    That's what the farmer pays insurance for. If it's totally destroyed, he will probably get a bigger and better one, which is the case for most lost or damaged property.
    I think the purchase today of large 4X4 apparatus is soley for the purpose of showmanship with little if any practical value.

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