1. #1
    Forum Member
    Burnster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Decatur, MI. / Van Buren County

    Default chassis recommendations

    Hello Brothers,
    I am the Asst. Chief of a small rural department in southwest Michigan. We are currently writing specs for a new tanker and have had some concerns brought up about what size of chassis should we be looking at for a 3000 gal. tanker and also what appropriate engine size should it be equipped with. It also should have an auto transmission. Any suggestions?

    Terry Burns
    Asst. Chief/EMTP
    Decatur-Hamilton FD
    Decatur, MI
    Last edited by draganfire; 08-25-2002 at 11:04 PM.

  2. #2
    Forum Member
    FFWALT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2000


    Visit other departments with that size tanker and find out how they like them, what would they change. Make sure you have enough braking ability for that much weight, consider a "jake" brake. Make sure your axles are plenty heavy as well. As for the engine, go big. Look at your response area, do you have only hills, flat on the interstate or a mix of both. We have a 2000 gallon Freightliner Fl112 with a cummins that is a real good fit. As for the transmission, are your operators familiar with manuals? Automatics are simple to operate.
    Train like you want to fight.

  3. #3
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Dec 1998


    Spec that the vehicle must comply with NFPA 1901. If you do not have ready access to it check with the nearest paid department or the state fire marshals office. One of the apparatus sales people may also provide you with a copy.

    The standard can be a little confusing but it lists a number of requirements that are needed for apparatus including chassis specs, lighting, etc. All fire apparatus manufacturers are familiar with the standard.

    The automatic transmisson should be no problem as all the truck manufacturers can provide a tranny matched to the engine. You might consider a performace spec for the chassis. For instance you could spec that the vehicle fully loaded must be able to accelerate from a stop to 50 MPH in 45 seconds on level ground at your location. It then becomes the responsibility of the manufacturer to provide the chassis and powertrain to meet the spec.

    Spec a true "twin screw" rear axles instead of a tag axle. We have not had good use of tags on snow or mud.

    Performace spec your dump capicity and have the capability to dump to both sides and the rear. You performace spec for dumping should state that 95% of the tank capacity can be offloaded through any one dump valve in ___ seconds. Test the apparatus on delivery by first weighing it with the water tank empty and then full. You can then determine th capacity of the tank vs the spec. Off load water through a dump valve for the specified time and weigh again to determine the amount of water offloaded.

  4. #4
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Aug 2002


    I have seen numerous tankers up to 3,000 gallon tankers done by ALF and a few other builders built on Freightliner chassis.
    As far as cost goes, it seems like a good way to go.....
    My own Dept. is looking for a tanker as well, we are trying to decide on whether American LaFrance or E-One will be the builder.
    Any thoughts on that?

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    First off, Ray R gave you some real good information! We've also had problems with tag axles, and don't have any rigs with them any longer.

    As far as deciding on a size tank or chassis, first look at your response area, and determine if that rules out certain size trucks. Contact departments in your general area, and ask them about their tenders, what they're happy with, and what they'd change.

    Since I've been on our department, we're run everything from an old duece & a half with a tank trailer, a full size 7000 gallon plus semi tractor trailer, and currently have a 3500 gallon tender. We're planning to add another tender in the next two years, and so far plan on going with a similar size.

    An auto transmission is a great way to go, as ours has a less than ideal 8 speed split tranny, and we have a few guys who would walk to a fire instead of drive it. (Probably beneficial to everyone!)

    Good luck!

  6. #6
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Terre Haute, IN


    If the unit is being maintained by the city, what sort of chassis are the trash trucks and the city works vehicles on? If they're all Sterlings or Macks or whatever you can probably go the same (they all have basically the same powertrain options) and make it easier on yourself (if it's a small town the nearest dealer is probably a ways away) and let the guys at the shop fix it. Water hauling tankers (as opposed to pumper tankers) are probably one of the most natural fits for commercial chassis on the fireground and as long as it goes and stops reliably it doesn't matter what the nameplate is on the front.

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