Thread: New Brush Truck

  1. #1
    Forum Member

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    Mar 2003

    Question New Brush Truck

    My department is in the market for a new brush truck. Were looking for somthing that can carry at least 300 gallons of water, has to be 4X4, and needs to have an auto tranny. Now myself, I am a Chevy/GMC man, but im not real familiar with any of the newer trucks.

    So i guess what i am asking is which of the Big 3 companies makes the best, most durable truck these days??

    Do the chevrolets still use the IFS( Idependant Front Suspension)? I know in there older models, the IFS was no comparison to the Ford or Dodges, whose solid front axle were far superior. Also, what about the Duramax/Allison engine/tranny combo? Im not real familiar with this pair. How reliable is it?

    What about the Dodges? I know the Cummins is the most powerful out of the diesel engines, but has Dodge improved their auto transmissions? I know in their '90s models, the tranny would go around every 70,000 miles behind the Cummins.

    Now i dont know much at all about the Fords. Can someone give me some insight into this truck? I saw in another post were they were having some auto tranny trouble.

    Any input is appreciated. Thanks in advance!

    Covington Fire/Rescue, Texas

    U.S.A.F Reserve Firefighter

  2. #2
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    Nov 2003


    Go with a Ford superduty F-550 with the 6.0 g2 powerstroke diesel by navistar and the 5 spd automatic torqshift transmission. this new transmission behind the 6.0 blows away the old 4r100.

    Now as for GM the d-max/allison combo is superior to an other combo out there for pickups but they dont have the weight capacities like the ford 450s and 550s do.

    And dodge well if you buy one of those pull that cummins out and haul the rest to the dump. there is a reason why they are last in the domestic pickup truck market.

  3. #3
    dazed and confused
    Resq14's Avatar
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    Dec 2000
    New England


    Get the information on the heavy-duty lines for each.

    I think you'll find that Ford will be at the top when it comes to payload. If you're carrying 300 gallons of water, that's roughly 2400lbs of weight that is always sitting on the truck, not including body, pump, and equipment.

    We did the research and considered all of the options. We ended up choosing Ford.
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  4. #4
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    Nov 2002
    Mostly in the dog house


    I just bought a Fas-Tak from American LaFrance.
    It has 480 gallons of water, 20 gallons of foam, a 34hp turbo diesel pump plumbed to the chassis fuel system, and a ton of compartment space.
    I was not a huge Ford fan either, but, I will say that the F-550 with the 6.0 L diesel has been an impressive chassis so far.
    As far as manufacturers, we checked with a lot of companies as to what each would/could do.
    ALF just gave us the most bang for the buck.

  5. #5
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    tripperff's Avatar
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    Nov 2002
    Homer, NY

    Default Depends on a few things...

    Being from Texas I'm gonna bet you don't have the same challenges at grass fires that we do in NY. One of the biggest ones is that a majority of the fires are dry/dead grass burning on top of mud that will suck anything with dual rear wheels down to the pumpkins real quick. When that happens you're pretty much done till you can find a heavy tow truck with a long cable or a friendly farmer with a big 4WD tractor. A majority of the FD's in my area get the heaviest duty single rear wheel truck, then design the skid unit around that truck. Usually you get about 200 gallons on a crew cab Ford F-350 or about 250 on a regular cab. There is a company on Long Island that has developed a "Super-Single" rear wheel that can go on an F-450 or 550. Their trucks are carrying up to 400 gallons of water on a crew cab F-550 with a substantial pump and body. The truck is called the Brush Rapid Attact Truck (BRAT). They are at

    They seem to build almost exclusively on Fords. Back in 1999 when we did our brush truck we did extensive research on payloads, etc. and we always came around to a Ford. I haven't done the research lately but I'm betting it hasn't changed much since then.
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  6. #6
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    Jul 2003


    We are doing a coop brush truck build up with Montana DNRC. They take a F550 that we buy, put a 500 gallon Poly tank on it, a midrange pump with gas motor, foam induction system, the utilty bed, all of the tool boxes, etc... We will have to supply all of the hose, nozzles, tools, equipment, etc...

    The MT DNRC has had a coop brush truck program for a long time, they often used to take surplus military vehicles and build brush trucks out of them. They would then issue out the brush trucks to voly departments, land owners, etc... People that were willing to take the training and fight fires in their area, in as a result fight fires on State lands. Now they are makeing the shift to build the trucks on chassis purchased by local jurisdictions. The department purchases the chassis, has it drop shipped to Missoula, and the state makes a very nice brush truck out of it. This gets away from teh 20+ year old Army surplus brush trucks and stretches the money of DNRC and the fire departments that much farther. The department does have to trade in one of its coop pieces of equipment to the DNRC to do this. this equipment can then be reissued to other needy areas, or if it is realy junk it is sent down the road.

    OK, back to the brush truck we are doing the Coop build on.

    By putting a 500 gallon tank on it and a larger pump they make the F550 into a Type 5 willdand engine as opposed to the type 6 which most brush trucks on pickup chassis are. This is worth more if you contract it on project fires and it genrealy considered a more capable brush truck then is a type 6.

    They report excellent success with this configuration, and that the Type 5s can handle vehicle fires and low intensity structure fires.

    The F550 is purchased on the state fleet agreement with Bison Ford, a MT Ford dealer. Anybody can set up fleet rates, and any goverment entity can purchased chassis tax free of course.

    The cost for a standard cab 4x4 F550 with the state specs are (from memory, the 100s might be off):

    V10, 6 speed- 23,400
    V10, Auto- 25,000
    Diesel 6.0 6- 28,000
    Diesel auto- 30,000

    We went with a diesel automatic. I dont know why realy, the V10 has plenty of power, and realy you shouldnt be doing over 65 MPH anyway, and the V10 will do more then that. I think mostly why we went diesel is bacause of fuel concens. Most of our fleet is diesel, we run the red off road tax free fuel. It simplfies refueling if we have mostly diesel chassis, with only the gas for the pumps to worry about. Sure, it would be nice of have all diesel pumps, but they are out of our price range.

    The biggest selling point on the F550 is its GVW. IIRC 17,500. This makes a 500 Gallon Type 5 legal for DOT and such.

    The only way you are going to beat a F550 as a chassis is if you go the the next level of comercial truck. F650 or F750, Chevy Kodiak, etc... Or you could realy go big, IE Unimog. Those seem like they are more agile/smaller then you Internationals ans such, but they pack more and are tougher then the F550s.

    I would definatly stay with the automatic. We have traditionaly had 5 speeds, and then we tried a 6 speed. That realy screwed up the guys, the 6 speed shifts completely different then the 5 speed. We are also starting to ad remote control wildland monitors, the low GPM homebuilt sort. You have one hand on the steering wheel, one on the monitor controls, what the heck are you going to shift with? We are going all auto tranny from here on out.
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