14 FIRERESCUE MAGAZINE JANUARY 2018 FIREFIGHTERNATION.COM
years. Going by this program, we were 10 years over
the replacement for the helicopter tender.”
The department designed the new vehicle with a
great deal of improvements compared to the 25-year-
old unit it was replacing. When working on the specs,
personnel wanted a unit that had a shorter wheelbase
that was more maneuverable and could travel in tight
areas, especially in parks and smaller areas. “More
space was needed on the vehicle to carry additional
equipment so we removed the generator and ran
everything 12 volts,” Demello says. The design the
department worked on with SVI was to install North-star Flat Plate batteries; they save space and are more
cost effective. The system was designed so that the
department could have the three batteries mounted
together so that they could be lifted out easily for
easier maintenance. “We also had SVI install a heavier
alternator and built-in charger. The batteries for the
rear workings of the unit are separate from the truck
batteries,” Demello adds.
The vehicle carries two Buoy walls (collapsible tanks)
that hold 3,000 gallons of water so the helicopter can
deploy one of two Bambi buckets. It also carries a Tri-
Max Foam CAFS unit, 100 feet of hose with a premix
of water and foam, and 500 gallons of Jet A fuel.
All the cabinets have Gray Lino linings and are
LED illuminated. Another feature that was installed
was an electric remote-control light tower with hands-
free headset and control to aid in lighting up a land-
ing zone for night operations. The truck also has a
reverse camera and an LED light package all around.
The vehicle responds on a special call basis when
the helicopters are dispatched. It is staffed by one
firefighter from Station 30 about a mile from the
airport. A landing zone is usually set up by the closest
responding engine company. For prolonged opera-
tions, the incident commander and pilot will usually
confer where it is best needed.
“SVI worked well with our committee to design the
vehicle,” Demello says. “They answered all of our questions and helped us along the way with the build.”
A lot of preplanning went into the design of this
specialty unit for the HFD. The department planned
for the future, making sure that compartment space
was adequate for what they needed to respond with.
They were proactive with the electrical system and
batteries, removing the generator and having a 12-volt
system run the whole vehicle and its components.
If you have to plan for a specialty unit for your
department, sometimes it’s harder than planning the
specs for a traditional engine or ladder. Investigate
what’s out there that you can install to improve
efficiency of the vehicle and maybe increase space. If a
vehicle is 20 or 25 years old, many new designs in
apparatus safety and efficiency are out there; you just
have to hunt around, investigate, and talk to the
manufacturers’ engineers to make your build the best
for you and your community.
Bob Vaccaro has more than 40 years of fire service experience. He
is a former chief of the Deer Park (NY) Fire Department. Vaccaro
has also worked for the Insurance Services Office, the New York Fire
Patrol, and several major commercial insurance companies as a
senior loss-control consultant. He is a life member of the IAFC.
• Chassis cab: International 4400.
• Engine: 300-hp Cummins ISB.
• Transmission: Allison EVS 3000.
• Wheelbase: 185 inches.
• Body Material: Aluminum.
• Body Size: 16 feet; overall height nine feet,
six inches; overall length 26 feet, 0.5 inches.
• Features: OnScene Solutions LED compartment lights, Robinson ROM roll-up compartment doors, SlideMaster cargo slides, a Western Cascade remote fuel fill display, a Dixon
Blademaster fuel pump and filter system, an
Aviation Jet A fuel system, and a Safety Vision
color rearview camera system.
Right: The rear of the
vehicle showing the
500-gallon Jet A fuel
Far right: The driver’s
side rear compartment
with a hose reel, nozzle,
and meter for Jet A fuel.