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  • Brush Units

    What do you use for a brush unit? We are thinking about replacing our 1963 Studabaker 2 1/2 ton truck (with 1000 gallons of water and a 18 hp Hale pump)with 1 ton unit with a flat bed & utility boxes or utility type body with a 300 gallon skid unit. Just wondering what's being used out there. Heard Ford is having problems with its units. Was looking at a Dodge or Chevy. Any info will help.
    "Illegitimis non carborundum."

    - Gen. Joseph Stilwell
    (Lat., "Don't let the *~#%&S grind you down.")

  • #2
    Since we do not have a lot of forestry, our brush unit is an F550 with a flat bed, skid mount pump, 300 gallons of water and lots of brush tools in compartments. We have not had any problems with our unit and neither have a few of the neighboring towns that also have Fords.

    [ 11-29-2001: Message edited by: bjhfd ]

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    • #3
      I have seen quite a few different types of brush units. Duece and a halfs converted to these work well. I know that when I lived in California, the
      Marine Corps used them a lot for the large fields and the such. I have seen Jeeps, Range Rovers, Broncos, and various pick up trucks.

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      • #4
        Our brush unit (Car 7) is a 1986 Humvee (former military) with a Fire One skid mount tank and pump unit.

        Car 7 doesn't get too much use anymore...most of our former brushfire areas now have $400,000 and up houses built on them.
        ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
        Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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        • #5
          You need a Hummer! I know I could always use one! Now where is "The7Tower" when I need him?

          Living the dream...

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          • #6
            1996 Hummer...built from the ground up as a firetruck...They told us were were the first in New England to have one (at least one built to be a firetruck).

            IACOJ Agitator
            Fightin' Da Man Since '78!

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            • #7
              I think you are on the right track. We build our own units and have used one ton Chevy, Ford and Dodge chassis.

              Check the GVW carefully. We normally figure that a 300 gal tank at 9lbs per gal for poly or aluminum and 10 lbs per gal for steel. 300 gal plus pump(s), hose reels and other equipment will probably put you close to or over the GVW of a 1 ton chassis. Try to figure the weight of of the complete unit including crew. Add at least 10% for the stuff you forgot or will need in the next few years.

              We are currently building a brush unit on an F-450, 4 x 4 chassis with a flat bed. The bed has tool compts on both sides. Pump is an 18 hp high pressure pump due to long small diameter hose lines. KK direct injection foam with foam tank built into the poly tank.

              Chassis cost for the F-450 vs F-350 was less than $3000.00 difference but the gvw went from 10,000lbs to 14,000 lbs.

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              • #8
                well from reading all of the responses so far, let me say none of those trucks would make it around here. In the spring most of our brush fires are through fields and in the fall we move into the woods. we run 2 brush trucks in our dept. the one is a 54 willy's jeep with 50 gallons of water on it with an electric pump with two garden hoses off of it. and the other is a 78 jeep with about 200 gallons of water on it with a john bean high pressure pump on it. I think that if you get any more water on it, if you do go off-road you are probably gonna get stuck. now we do carry a few fire brooms and some indian tanks on them also, but usually never use them because we can get the trucks just about anywhere. also we have saved several surronding depts on brush fires with those two vehicles for that reason that they overload them.

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                • #9
                  Only carry what you need! Lets say you start with a Ford F550 deisel (what we are currently building). If you want to stay simple and cheap, you add a steel flatbed and a 300 gallon poly tank. When you bolt the tank on, be especially carefull about the center of gravity. Try to keep it as low as possible. You dont have to have a walkway in front of the tank, make sure you have enough behind the tank and pump to get around without falling or having to get off the truck. We do have about 8-10 inches of room in front of our tank and thats where shovels, firerakes, and pulaskis go. We run a 16HP vangaurd with a generic high pressure pump thats even does a decent job on 1 1/2". In addition to a 200ft 1" booster reel, we have two 1" taglines at the front of the bed, one for each side. Both have valves that are easy to reach on top of the tank. We put the valves there because we carry 400' of 1" forestry hose that attaches to the taglines, all you do is pull the nozzle off and connect your hose. We are working on a 1" pre-connect though. Don't spend a ton of money on expensive nozzles, its a waste most of the time. We have the cheapest forestry fog nozzles you can get (yes they are machined metal). Its too easy to ruin one with one bad tank from someones tanker they filled out of the creek or a pond. We didn't spend a bunch of money on a foam system either, we pre-measure one tanks worth class A foam into old water bottles or whatever we can find and keep ten or so on the truck, if you need more than that at one time you have to take the truck in for fuel and a new crew anyway. Just pour one bottle in every time you fill up (after your fill up, unless you want snow all over). With three hundred gallons, you arent gonna be out too long at one time. Make sure you carry an small ice chest for drinks and wet rags though. An extended cab truck would be great to carry an ice chest, and your bunkers gear and anything else thats needs to stay dry. Yes, carry your bunker gear, how many times haves you watched a house burn with 300 gallons and no gear where you might have had a chance to save it. OK, i've been long winded enough. If anyone wants more information, ideas, or details about our equipment, just let me know. Have fun and be safe.

                  Smoke
                  Gabriel
                  FF/EMT
                  Nevada, Missouri
                  1*

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                  • #10
                    Both the Department I run on and our outpost department (soon to split off into a stand alone department) run a couple of Ford F-250 Heavy Duty Trucks (with some slightly more aggressive that normal tires) that we bought used.

                    We then simply bolted on a Push Bar / Winch to the front, added some Lights & Siren and slipped in a pre-made skid unit.

                    Although the Chassis are different between the two trucks - the Skids are identical.

                    Rather than list everything here, if you'd like the specifics just drop me an e-mail.

                    (Picture available at http://n2dfire.tripod.com/stationbio.html )

                    Also - if your looking to go slightly more "up scale" then check out M&W Fire Apparatus in Vinton, VA ( www.mwfire.com ). These are Old Grumman folks and they make a pretty good looking truck.

                    Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless
                    Stephen
                    FF/Paramedic
                    Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless
                    Stephen
                    FF/Paramedic
                    Instructor

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                    • #11
                      Currently we have a pair of one ton pickups, one a Ford and the other a Chevy. Both have a flat bed, 400 gallon tanks, 18hp motor for the pump and 150 ft of red line. Both trucks will soon be replaced by Ford F450 4x4's. The current trucks we have are over 15 years old and pretty well beat. We have decided on F450's because technically both of our one ton are over weight and breaking performance suffers greatly. We also have a Ford F650 with 1000 gallon tank that we use as a brush truck. It's big and heavy but works well. If it can't get to the fire we use it to re-supply the smaller trucks.

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                      • #12
                        I posted this answer to the same question in the Wildland Fire forum, but it seems to be getting more action here.

                        Check the link to our unofficial website in my profile. It has pictures as well as descriptions of our brush trucks.

                        As far as going from a 2 1/2 ton to a one ton, there are pros and cons. The obvious one is that you won't be able to carry as much water, but you'll be able to go some places you wouldn't go with a heavier truck.

                        Here's the problem I have with putting a utility box on a small brush truck, and one of the reasons we have decided against it. By using a one ton truck, you shouldn't put more than about 200 gallons of water onboard. 200 gallons of water weighs 1760 pounds. That doesn't include tank, pump, hose reels, tools or people. Chances are, you will probably have the truck overloaded even if you use only 200 gallons because of the other equipment that will be carried. With the utility box, you you're going to want to carry alot of tools, foam, whatever will fit it them. This will further compound the weight problems. Also, if you're going to use your brush trucks the same as we do, the compartment doors will get banged around; half of them will get stuck and the other half won't close, eventually.

                        Depends on your situation, but a flat bed works fine if you're just going to use the truck strictly for brush fires. If you need the truck to be multifunctional and carry more water or a lot of equipment, I'd go with a truck with a bigger payload and use the utility boxes. Just try to keep your drivers from scraping trees.
                        Bryan Beall
                        Silver City, Oklahoma USA

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                        • #13


                          [ 12-07-2001: Message edited by: Medic129 ]

                          Life is only temporary, but freedom goes on forever. God bless those who gave all.

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                          • #14
                            Here's what we use. It's a 1988 Ford F-350. We custom designed and built the bed after removing the previous one. It has a 225 gal poly tank (which has a 2 1/2" piped inlet on the pass. side for field refilling from a tanker or pumper) , a 100gpm high pressure-low volume hale pump, 125' of booster line, a generator with twin quartz lights, 8 pressure water extinguishers (in lieu of the old "Indian Packs"), and various shovels, brooms, etc. Mostly, just the basics. Like somebody else said, only carry what you need. All that other stuff will just make you sink in the mud faster.

                            Any questions, just e-mail me:
                            [email protected]

                            [ 11-30-2001: Message edited by: Medic129 ][img]2705.jpg[/img]

                            [ 12-07-2001: Message edited by: Medic129 ]

                            Life is only temporary, but freedom goes on forever. God bless those who gave all.

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                            • #15
                              We use a 1978 Dodge pickup with a 210 gal poly tank. Don't know the specs on the pump. We figure we dont need anything nice to tear up in the woods so we got an older truck.

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