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  1. #1
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    Default Initial Attack Apparatus

    Are there any departments out there that are using mini-pumpers/grass rigs as inital attack apparatus on structure fires and auto fires?

    Our department SOG's currently call for a quick attack vehicle to respond first on all fires. At the same time it calls for using at least a 1 1/2" line and SCBA for fire attack. Our current quick attack vehicles are 4x4 flatbed 1 ton pickups with 250 gallon slip in tanks with 125 gpm pumps. The trucks do not carry any SCBA's and are equipped with 1" booster lines and 150' of 1 1/2" preconnected.

    A little history... This type of repsonse use to be quite common in our part of the country (midwest, rural) back in the 70's and 80's because a lot of the rural fire districts started out using old military 6x6's. As the fire districts and tax bases grew, they started adding pickup trucks that could respond much faster than a 6x6, so the pickups responded first to provide "exposure" protection. Those departments that were lucky enough to own an engine were faced with under powered engines that were slow and hard to use. Hence, a pickup was responded first because they were easy to operate (if you can start your lawnmower you can operate your slip on unit) and easier to drive.

    Our department currently owns a 2000 Pumper with a class A foam system, a 1250 gpm top mountand a 1000 gallon tank. We also own a 1988 Midi Pumper with a 400 gpm side mount pump and 400 gallon tank.

    The current SOG's state that the first 2 members to arrive (all volunteer) will take a pickup/grass rig and the next members in will respond an engine (full size engine on structure fires, midi pumper on vehicle fires).

    I have discussed my reservations with our fire chief with the current SOG's, his response is that this has worked well for us in the past and that we need to leave the full size engine in the station and only use it for structure fires (not responding to auto fires, trash fires or auto accidents).

    My concens is that if we are short on manpower, we may (and have) repsonded a pickup on a structure fire and left the engine in the station. 125 gpm and 250 gallons of water doesn't have much effect on exposure protection. We also have firefighters attacking auto and structure fires without SCBA using booster lines (we are already at the fire, do you really expect us to stand by and watch the fire burn while we wait on another crew to bring the engine we left at the station). My argument is that if we use the full size engine for "routine" calls like auto fires, trash fires and wrecks, the members of the department will become more familiar with the engine and that will help improve repsones to the big ones (structure fires). It also helps with training, why would you want to train on a piece of equipment that is used on less than 10% of the calls.

    Our current SOG's were basically approved by a comittee of one (Fire Chief).

    I know of no other department in our area still repsonding a mini-pumper/grass rigs as a first out unit on these tyes of fires. Are there anyone else out there with the same problem/scenario??


  2. #2
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    Wow, I really feel for you. At least a few of your people are intelligent enough to realize thats just wrong. Aren't you violating your own sog/sop's by working like that? Any use in bringing that up?
    Best of luck to you.

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber SamsonFCDES's Avatar
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    Yeah, that is a bit off.

    The theory of fast attack vehicles does hold water, we use it ourselves, but for a structure fire you are realy sticking your neck out if you dont have your pumper/water supply, and for goodness sake your SCBAs, I dont like eating that much smoke.

    I will get into what our SOPs are, hope this helps, sorry if it gets long.

    We do have a similar procedure, but with some variations. We have 3 tenders (4,000, 4,200, and 1,200), 2 structure pumpers (1000 GPM/1000 gallon, 450 GPM/500 gallon), a CAFS wildland heavy that can more then pull its weight on structure fires (CAFS, 900 Gallons), and 8 brush trucks, (4 at 400 gallons, 4 at 250).

    Often the first truck out is one of the 400 gallon brush/mini pumper trucks. We have one set up for multi purpose use, it can take on 90% of the vehicle fires we have, carries 2 SCBAs just in their cases, no spare bottles (we have 1 hours Dragers), and has proven that it can slow down a structure fire enough to let the heavy units get into postion. It has 200 feet of hard 1' line on a electric reel, a foam induciton system (Class a), a vast asortment of tools. This particular unit is a Ford powerstroke diesel that evidently at one point had some work done on the turbo and injectors, it has a ton of power. It is without a doubt the fastest unit we have, we have had it up to over 110 on a test drive one day! No BS, it will scream to a fire much much quicker then any of our heavies, top speed on those is about 60 for any given unit. We dont condone or acknoledge the use of excessive speed enrout to emergencies, but if you need it, its there. And, it has made some superb saves by getting there not a minute to late.

    Our next truck out is going to be the CAFS wildland heavy, which was bought from the MT BLM as a surplus unit. We are refubishing it this year so it will only improve, but in the past it has been worth its weight in gold. Compressed Air Faom is just amazeing. This this was set up as a wildland unit originaly, but we have it as a dual purpose unit now. On an International Chassis, 4x4, Detriot 466, Alison Auto, 2 1' bootser reels, and a LOT of 1.5 inch hose in the compartments. It has 900 gallons of water an 50 gallons of class A foam, SCBAs, and a vast asortment of tools. It is a friggin fire fighting machine from hell. We have had excellent luck with it at all sorts of fires, ranging from structure protection on interface fires, structure fires, to a vehicle fire, a crude oil tanker truck that had crashed and burned. This is second out, but it is slow, 60 MPH on flat, 65 down hill. But, when it gets to the fire, it usualy kicks major arse. If the fast atack mini doesnt get it, this unit often does.

    From there we are looking at a more significant incident, like a major wildfire, a multi alarm structure fire, or some sort of oil field mishap.

    The first unit on scene, often the Chief in his IC Ford Bronco, or the fast attack mini, will give the size up and request additional units as needed.

    A popular 3rd vehicle out is one of the tenders, we have marginal water supplies throughout or coverage district, so we have to bring ours with us. Between the first out mini, the CAFS heavy, and one of the tenders, you can put out a decent amount of fire.

    The ones that realy tax our resources are the wildfires, hence the many brush trucks. We have some prairie fires that realy take some runs. If this is the call it is an all hands on deck situation. Every wildfire/pump and roll capable unit is mustered, and the 3 tenders start water shuttling. The only time the 1000GPM or the 450GPM pumpers are called on a wildfire is when they are used to make a stand on structure protection.

    In the event of a hot and heavy structure or vehicle fire, the brush trucks stay home, except for the mini pumper which is still first out, and the CAFS which is still second out.

    Our smaller structure pumper is on the same Internation 4x4 chassis as our CAFS heavy, only without CAFS and it cant pump and roll very well. Pierce built. We have a lot of pump and roll prairie fires so this truck is often left at home during wildfires. It gets its calls from vehilce and structure incidents, sometimes structure protection. We didnt purchase it on purpose, it was given to us by our home county when they decided to get completely out of the fire buisness. This is oftnen the first of the structure trucks out, it is much more nimble on its shorter wheelbase, a bit quicker down the road, and is just more user friendly.

    We have a 18 year old Pirce 1000GPM pumper, in amazeing condition, maintained superbly, bought new by the department 18 years ago to get their first ISO rateing. It honestly rarely gets used. It is just to slow for our needs, we cover a lot of area (740 square miles) and we have in some cases significant miles to travel to get to a fire. There are a lot of other trucks that leave the hall before this engine. Arguably, the CAFS unit can put out more fire then this pumper can, and in any case it can do it with much less water, a consideration for us since we dont have much water supply.

    So, that about does it, a lot of our fires get put out by the mini pumper, and the next level of fires get the CAFS treament. We do have a significant number of incidents that require the heavy hitters to come out and play, but realy, a lot of our routien stuff is handled just fine by the mini pumpers.

    However, you must make sure that they are equiped well enough to handle whatever may come at them. IMO, this is a minimum of SCBA, foam system of some sort, both wildfire and structure tools, a medic jump kit, blankets, on and on.... I am sure you know what I mean.

    So, what I am saying is that the quick attack theory does work well for us, and saves us some significant repsonce time. It saves on wear and tear for the heavy/more expensive units, and without a doubt the minis/brush trucks are more user friendly.

    But, we have seen the trend that you described. Why would the guys want to train on the structure rigs as much as they do on the minis/brush trucks and the CAFS unit (which is always a favorite actualy, nice fluffy foam )?

    In any case, it seems to be working fine for us.
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  4. #4
    Early Adopter cozmosis's Avatar
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    In my station, we have the engine I'm assigned to and three other unstaffed rigs -- a ladder, a brush truck and a reserve pumper. Regardless of the type of call, the engine is the first thing out of the house. Why? Because it can handle anything and everything.

    The question you need to ask your chief is this... If you could only respond to a call with one truck, what truck would it be? Would it be the quick attack with 250 gallons of water, no SCBA and minimal hose? Or a "full grown" pumper with proper equipment and 1,000 gallons of water. He is unfit for duty if he selects the quick attack.

    You say that you guys have water issues... for that reason alone, I'd rather have 1,000 gallons rolling before a truck with only 250.

  5. #5
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    I agree with Cosmosis here.

    Using the minipumper as your first due apparatus is like taking a peashooter to a gunfight...

    If you have [size=huge]Big Fire [/size]

    you need

    [size=huge]Big Water [/size]

    and 250 gallons and 125 GPM isn't it!
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  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber SamsonFCDES's Avatar
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    Originally posted by CaptainGonzo
    I agree with Cosmosis here.

    Using the minipumper as your first due apparatus is like taking a peashooter to a gunfight...

    If you have [size=huge]Big Fire [/size]

    you need

    [size=huge]Big Water [/size]

    and 250 gallons and 125 GPM isn't it!
    Absolutely, big fire calls for big water.

    Sometimes the mini pumper can get their quick enough to prevent the Big Fire, but your IC better be on top of things when you are employing the quick attack/mini pumper method.

    Quick Water prevents Big Fire.

    If you run a few gallons short of water, you are screwed.

    No Water equals Big Big Fire.

    So, your IC needs to know when to send the big water.

    Mitch, you mentioned that your use your mini pumpers for trash and vehicle fires. We do this this also, and we have had great success in doing so. Your mini pumpers do however sound a little big weak, no offence intended. The 125 GPM is good for a lot of those fires if you use foam, but the 250 gallons of water is right on the edge IMO. We have 400 gallon minis/brush trucks for this dual purpose use, the 250 gallons brush trucks are wildland only. Do you have any large extingquishers to compliment the booster tank? Also, I think SCBAs on units like this are a must, not necesarity with extra bottles, but at least you get 20+ minutes of clean air if you have some paks.
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  7. #7
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    there is one department in our area that runs the mini first out any fire, or MVA (I think)..they have "always" done this and several times they have been caught short on water.....now they at least have 4 dorr cabs and carry SCBA but I dont really agree that it should be first out for a bunch of reasons ...........anymore the quicker vehicle with little water doesnt really get it .....to many combustibles that burn fast and with delayed personnel coming, and just not enought water should go with a regular enging. We decomminsioned our mini and turned it into a safety officer vehicle ....we used to have a lot of fires caused by the railroads but those have declined to nil and we neded another use for hte vehicle......
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    Good, basic maintenance and fire apparatus will last 40+ years.

    Truth is most departments replace trucks because they've become technologically obsolete for their needs & wants -- they don't have safety features like enclosed cabs, they don't have the latest features like CAFS, they don't have the compartments for new needs like Rescue Pumpers, and they don't have lower maintenance things like plastic tanks.

    They can go on to have a successful second life is a smaller community that can't afford the latest & greatest yet.

    So that sinks the idea you need to save your big trucks for real fires. Most of us will get rid of trucks long before we can wear them out.

    ==================
    In my department,

    Getting a quick-attack on the road should not compromise getting the heavy artillery on the road.

    If you're licensed to drive both, you go to the heavy stuff first 'cause fewer people are licensed & checked off to drive them.

    If another big truck driver shows up, they can always grab one of the smaller trucks if that's all that's left.

  9. #9
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    We have just took delivery of our mini-pumper in July from E-One. It has a 750 gpm pump and 240 gal tank. This truck also carries 500 ft of 3" hose. It is our first out for all rescue calls and such. A railroad run through the middle of our town. We have 2 crossings and a bridge for vehicle traffic to pass under the tracks. The height of the bridge has a height restriction of 8 ft. The mini-pumper is first out on structure fires on the other side of the tracks if the RR crossings are blocked because it can fit under the tracks. We still send our big engine the 5 miles around when the tracks are blocked. We have a 1994 1250 gpm Pierce with 1000 gal tank that is usually first out on all calls.

    I agree that most mini-pumpers do not usually have the big enough pump and sure don't carry enough water but I think we can make it work for us.

  10. #10
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    Default more info

    Speed use to be a factor -- our old engines would only go 55 mph, but our new 2000 IH/Central States engine with a 330 hp motor is just as fast as our grass rigs (1 ton Ford and Chevy with a 351 and 350 V-8 respectively). We had a couple of structure fires last year were the chief pulled out in the grass rig and I followed him in the engine, wasn't the safest thing to do but I looked like Robbie Gordon on his bumper.

    My concern is with limited manpower, theirs a chance that on your inital repsonse all your going to get is 4 or 5 guys to start with, I would rather respond our engine and two tenders than a grass rig and a tender. At one time we did carry 1 SCBA on each grass rig, but I convinced them that it made to great a tempation for someone to pull a booster line in a structure fire with no backup.

  11. #11
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    Default We did ths a long time ago

    We had a 1980 Dodge/Saulsbury mini pumper with a 750 pump and a 175 gallon water tank that for a short time was first out on structure fires. After a short time they realized the chassis was geared wrong for the job and it was way under powered. The way we described it was "It'll pump like a raped ape but it can't get out of it's own way over the road," and if you weren't wearing your seat belt when you went from second to third gear you had to be ready to eat the dash or steering wheel, (ok, I've vented enough about that old heap, we sold it to another FD with a "till you're around the corner" warranty). Also, as with most other mini pumpers that have been described here, 175-200 gallons of water at 40 gpm from a booster line is just about enough water to get yourself into real trouble in a structure fire. Plus, we always had 2 SCBA on our mini, but with 2 in/2 out-what's the point?? If I were in your place, (and I was in a similar situation a few years ago with a chief who made all the decisions without consulting the other chiefs or line officers. He was voted out when he made a HUGE mistake on a fire scene.) I would find out what the feeling of the rest of the FD is on the subject, and possibly the chief's performace in general. If it's a widely held opinion that this is wrong you need to bring it to the chief's attention. If he ignores you, remember it at election time. If it's not an elected position, perhaps you need to bring it to the attention of your commissioners or trustees or whomever the chef answers to. In my opinion ths is a pretty serious safety issue.
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  12. #12
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    My initial attack apparatus is my car; I respond to the station and make "suprise attacks" on slow drivers in my way!!

    From what I read you have two extremely good arguments against an antiquated technique:

    1. SAFETY!! No SCBA on the first due unit to a structure fire and occupants meet you at the street to tell you someone is trapped. What are your first-due guys going say? No SCBA attacking a car fire? I would get your fellow firefighters together (whose lives are endangered also) and confront the Chief and tell him/her what you see.

    2. It truly is an antique technique for speed if you have a newer pumper with everything you need on it that can get to the scene just as fast as a grass rig. All SOG's need reveiwed every few years to see what needs to be updated to better serve our citizens with greater efficiency. The only reason a grass rig needs to pull up at a structure fire scene is to get more personnel there - its wasting gas/deseil otherwise.

    Where in Ks is Udall? I am here in the Southeast corner of the state in Cherokee County in a little town called Weir.

  13. #13
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    Thumbs down Not Here........

    Although I am aware that this approach has been widely used across America, it's something that never got a trial here. We've always responded with whatever was the best Engine for the job at hand, and in 97% of the calls, it was the same Engine anyway. We have a Chevy 4x4 Pickup with a 175 gal tank, 100gpm/125psi pump that has a 150' 1.5 line in addition to the 1" forestry hose, and yes, we have used it on other than brush fires, IF one of 3 conditions existed at that moment.

    1. The Brush Rig was on the road, available, and closer than anything else at the time of dispatch. In this instance, the unit would respond and apply water as needed, to hold things in check while waiting for the first Engine.

    2. If an alarm is dispatched, and all Engines are already committed to other incidents, then rule 1 (above) applies.

    3. In extreme weather conditions where the 4X4 is needed to reach the location of the emergency, it will run ahead of the Engines. In situations where we have time to anticipate need (flood, snow, etc) we will add a couple of SCBA, forcible entry tools, O2, AED, to the existing equipment on board.

    Several times over the years, we have used this unit to drag a 3" supply line to the Bldg. from an Engine out on the road, with good results. It has run quite a few EMS calls in bad weather, sometimes taking the patient out to the Ambulance on the road.

    Yes, small 4X4 units have a role in our operations, but initial attack on structure fires under normal circumstances is not a part of the plan. One other point. For 2in 2out needs, if you have 2 on the unit, with SCBA and adequate water, you are still short 2 people and the necessary equipment for them. Stay Safe....
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    MembersZone Subscriber SamsonFCDES's Avatar
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    A lot of this topic hinges around the mini/brush truck itself, no all of these units are created equal these days. Just an observation, no offence ment, some of the brush trucks from the Eastern US sound a little wimpy!

    Also, the area in which you respond is another major factor in this equation as to wheater a mini is a good idea.

    There have been brush trucks showing up in my area (MT) with 400-500 gallon tanks, CAFS, 4 door cabs on F550 trubo Diesel 4x4 chassis, and all manner of gear. We can get a lot more use out of a 4x4 pickup chassis then we can a 2 wheel drive conventional fire engine. Our abundant wildfires neccesitate an abundace of brush trucks, since we have to have them already, it only makes sence to have them ready for a dual purpose role.

    For a number of reasons, conventional/large engines are not the most effective units for our area. Sometimes we have to respond over significant miles to get to an incident, one mutual aid call we had this week was 60 miles, one way. Maybe this is not the case with the newer structure engines, but ours are slow, just now way around that, while our minis are FAST FAST FAST.

    Another significant factor in our area is bridges. There are a number of bridges in our responce area taht are not rated for our 1000 gallon pumper, and definatly not rated for our tenders. In some cases you can go around, but that can take some serious time. We CAN put all 8 of our brush trucks over the briges and get 2600 gallons of water on scene. This is often enough to hold a fire in check until the heavys can get there.

    Mitch, I guess you would have to evaluate your reponse area, how capable your brush trucks are, and a number of other factors to decided if this approach is a viable method in your reponce area.
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    MembersZone Subscriber SamsonFCDES's Avatar
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    Well, no matter how bad it is where ever you are, it could be worse.

    They could be sending you to a fire on a friggin moped.



    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

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    When I first started out, my department used to respond the same way, brush truck first, and there's still departments around here that do. But the conventional wisdom of "that how we've always done it" is obsurd. Fire used to be fought with buckets and a mouth full of soaked beard, but people have adapted to the times. I have been guilty of sending one of my guys out on our brush rig to a fire as a first out truck, but it's an officer and all the other responding trucks are manned with guys that are at the station getting geared up.

    I'm curious how your chief's going to explain someday when someone who's trapped in an upstairs window is told they have to wait until the real fire truck gets there, or that "car fire" turns out to be an 18-wheeler or something. Or even when a tanker could have been there, but a driver was wasted bringing a brush truck.

    Except for the situation I mentioned above, our engine is the first out truck on everything except brush fires. Any rescue class I've been on preached 500+ gallons of water and a 1.5" line on any extrication. Basically, take the truck that's equipped for the call, if it's a brush fire, take the brush truck. If it's a structure,vehicle fire, or MVC, take the engine.

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    We have 2 frontline engines and 2 frontline brush rigs. One per station, one at the north and one at the south. Anytime it's a possible structure fire or an alarm drop, whatever, the computer always fires the engine out first along with a tanker and a squad (medic, ambulance, whatever you call it).

    Anytime we get a medical call that would require a BLS engine as a first response, the computer fires out a brush rig, mainly because they are newer, faster, and just plain better suited for rural/interface medical calls. They also get a squad, which ever one is available. We have 2 frontline squads and it will send which ever one is available. On the campus of Central State University, it sends our usual response plus their medic.

    As far as brush fires, we'll send a squad, brush rig, and a tanker. Car fires get the same response as a structure fire because for car fires we need big water and lots of foam if needed. Although one time I disputed a decision to send a full response to a 10x10 shed fire. There was no threat to surrounding structures and we could have let it burn to the ground and then hit it with booster reels but the chief had to have a 1-3/4 preconnect to knock it down right away...

    Have a good night!

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    Engine 11 is the first unit to roll on anything fire or medical .
    It is licensed as an aid vehicle and carries medical supplies on it.

    Second out for the medical calls is the light rescue R-9 (2002 F-550/Braun NW 16ft ambulance) it carries basically the same supplies any light rescue and bls ambulance would carry .

    For fires we have two kinds of responces .
    First for structures we roll the first out unit for everything engine 11 (2003 hme 1750gpm 900tank) then second due out is the quint ladder 18 (2000 hme 1500gpm 500tank 75'ladder) third out is engine 107 (1991 eone 1250gpm 500tank) and last is R-9

    For brush / car fires we roll the first engine 11 then we roll the second engine 107 then the rescue if more man power is needed .

    We have no brush trucks within city limits but we have numerous brush units and 6x6 tenders with the county department .

  19. #19
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    Default Initial Attack Apparatus

    At my department we respond onr of our front line Class A pumpers to all EMS calls, Haz Mats, Alarms and Structures. The idea is to have it in service in our district so that it can respond as staffed in the event the "big one" should come a knockin'

  20. #20
    Temporarily/No Longer Active July36's Avatar
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    We have a "first in" truck also but its not focused on just structure fires tho...and it DOES carry SCBA bottles(2 scotts and 2 spares).The only reason we run it as "first due" is because it carries just about everything imaginable for "getting something going before our bigger trucks arrive".This truck carries a standard drop-in package,lots of 1" hose,varius fittings,pike poles,some 2 1/2" hose(for refilling),3/4" flat hose,spanners,a hydrant wrench,and several types of portable extinguishers(20 gallon each) which consist of water,foam,halon and Carbon Dioxide...and we carry foam and chemical recharges for the portable extinguishers.We also have an on-board foam eductor that built into the piping in the pump but its an "around the pump type. We carry a vast amount of medical equipment too...(2 onboard mounted E cylinder 02 and a Rico Ambo Suction system as well as a couple of portable ones and 12 volt ones(all complete with the Ohio wall jacks),ALS airway kit,ALS trauma kit,blankets and sheets,spineboard head blocks and straps,medical vests,splints,a Pedi medical/airway/trauma ALS kit,etc)2 foldable metal spineboards and a plastic one,and a wire stokes basket,2 short boards and a KED,a set of MAST trousers,an AED, amongst other things...and as for rescue it carries a 12 volt 10 ton winch,a hand powered winch,2 porta powers(4 ton and 10 ton),an air system for air tools(air hammerrs,saws,cutters,spreader s,etc) on extrication and various hand tools.What we do not have on there is a Hurst set but the air tools come in just about as handy until we can afford to get a Hurst set....and of course,the Airpaks.Theres ALOT we carry on that one and some stuff I probably cant think of at the moment.
    Anyways,we run this truck on just about everything but usually(unless its a small incident) then we run the pumper and the tender too(becuase we dont have hydrants).
    This truck is pictured on our website at http://cms.firehouse.com/dept/SeligmanAZ .

    Donna C
    Fire Chief
    Bridge Canyin VFD

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