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Rescue/Mini vs. Rescue/Pumper

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  • Rescue/Mini vs. Rescue/Pumper

    Our department is currently looking into purchasing two rescue/mini-pumpers with CAFS.

    I am courius if we should be looking into a Rescue/Pumper with CAFS instead to reduce the number of apparatus we are responding to an incident and making our personnel more familiar with the ones we have.

    We would keep the current engines that we have and the chief is saying we would run the mini's with CAFS first out to all alarms and the engine second. I've got mixed feelings.

    The mini's are nice for smal drive ways on EMS calls, and quicker responses. However I'm not sure I trust the pumping capcity/tank capacity and don't necessarily understand the "need for speed" when our policy restricts our road speeds anyway.

    Open for opinions/suggestions.

  • #2

    Okay here are my questions for you.

    1) Are these mini's going to be true rescues? Or are they just going to carry some extrication equipment?

    2) IF the same job can be accomplished by a single slightly larger vehicle what is the motivation for having 2 smaller vehicles?

    Okay and just a suggestion...lay out the equipment you want to carry on the apparatus floor....and then ask yourself seriously if we put all this on those smaller chassis are we going to overload that truck? That is the biggest problem I see time after time with mini-anythings in the fire service. We buy a small chassis and then put enough equipment on it to make it a Class A pumper and then wonder why it steers like crap and doesn;t stop right.

    Sorry to preach. But before you buy you really need to decide what it will be used for and what will it carry for equipment.

    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
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    • #3
      What chassis are you looking at? Ford F series? If so, perhaps you want to take a look at the GMC/Chevy 4500 or 5500. They're true "Medium Duty" chassis, not built up pickups. I just wish my department would have gotten one, instead of the Ford.
      Originally posted by ThNozzleMan
      Why? Because we are firemen. We are decent human beings. We would be compelled by the overwhelming impulse to save an innocent child from a tragic, painful death because in the end, we are MEN.

      I A C O J

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      • #4
        You would be surprised how much fire you can put out with a mini-pumper with CAFS. You really dont need that much water with cafs either.

        I think the F-550 can go up to 19k GVWR.


        • #5
          My vote is for the fullsized Rescue Engine with CAFS. You'll be able to put all kinds of things on the big'un that wouldn't fit on the mini's. First, if you split the equipment load to get everything on the 2 trucks eventually you'll end up with the one thing you need on the other truck and it didn't get out. Secondly, you just doubled the number of qualified drivers that you need to get both rigs on the road. Thirdly, they won't be class A engines so they wont help your ISO (as far as I know). Lastly, you going to roll up on some workin fire or wreck thats just gonna be to much for even 2 minipumpers to handle. The town next to mine runs a mini-pumper (no CAFS) first on dumpsters, car fires, and such. They got caught once when the dumpster fire was against the building, the fire was extending and all they had was like 250 gallons of water.

          2 mini pumpers with CAFS and all the goodies your going to need to really fight fire with them is going to run you close to the price of a Rescue engine.


          • #6
            I agree with the posters above that say they need more info. There are just too many variables of needs between different departments.

            If you have two stations, and you want to have similar rigs at both stations to simplify training and for familiarity on the fireground, then this is a good idea.

            I don't really see the sense in having a pair of minis at the same station responding behind one another. It makes more sense to send 1 mini and then back it up with a full-capability Engine.

            We have a local volly dept that has a grass-fire rig that they also use on auto-accidents because the high-pressure pump works well for washdowns. If they had put rescue equipment on it, it may not have done so well off-road. There's so many factors to consider...


            • #7
              Well, not knowing a thing about the makeup of your response area or your dept, all I can say is that in my opinion, running mini-pumpers out first due sounds a bit sketchy, CAFS or not. CAFS is great, don't get me wrong, but it's not a cure-all. It shouldn't be relied upon as a solution for carrying less water to the scene or for not establishing a reliable water supply, because things can get out of hand quickly. I think too many depts are falling into this false sense of security with it to be honest. They have a "well we don't need 1000 gallon tanks anymore, we can get away with 250 as long as we have CAFS!" thought process, which can be a dangerous philosophy to adopt.

              Of course, there's obviously quite a big difference in cost between a mini rescue-pumper and a fullsize rescue-pumper, so the question is, can you even afford anything more than the mini rescue-pumpers? Also, the rationale that the minis are better to get up small driveways for EMS runs should not be a consideration at all, in my opinion. You're not going to be transporting with them, so unless you're talking about small driveways that are half a mile long that a fullsize truck can't get up, park the rescue-pumper on the street. Walking up the front lawn isn't gonna kill you.


              • #8
                Everything we do is a trade off. By all accounts, 250 gallons of water applied as CAF extinguishes more fire than 1000 gallons of water. That being said, I tend to think that a mini pumper has very few advantages over a full-size pumper. The ones I can think of are: you've got a large area to cover with very few people - placing mini pumpers throughout could improve your response time, but would require a very different set of tactics than are common in the US fire service. Also, it probably woudn't much more expensive to go with full sized commercial program engines. Another option would be using one to reduce the call load of an engine in a very very busy area - generally by taking EMS first response runs - in which case a mini isn't really needed, a sedan would do. A third option would be in order to give some fire suppression ability to station that would otherwise only house a ladder truck or rescue truck - in which case usually switching to a quint or rescue engine might be appropriate.

                So it boils down the point that mini pumpers aren't really good at anything but EMS. They *could* do many things almost as well as a full engine, but there's rarely a good reason for not spending a little more for a cheap class A engine or a lot less for a sedan or utility truck. For comparison, you can get a brand new 2 door commercial cab fire truck for less than $140,000. I would guess that a Ford F-550 with CAFs would cost more than $100,000.


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