An Upgrade for a Volunteer Rural Fire Department
Bennet Rural Fire District is an all-volunteer fire department just outside of Lincoln, Nebraska. Located about 15 minutes outside of the city, the department serves the villages of Bennet and Cheney, as well as many rural farms and acreages across 96 square miles. Included in their response area is a recently re-activated BNSF rail line that transports coal to the local power plant. In addition, large areas of farm and brush, as well as residential homes and properties, result in a mix of medical calls, brush fires, structure fires and alarms, and vehicle accidents. The department has been working hard to grow its membership over the past year, with five new members and one recruit still in training. Apparatus at their firehouse include: one pumper, one pumper/tanker, one tanker, one rescue, and three grass rigs.
A New Custom Fire Apparatus Focused on Firefighter Safety
At the end of 2020, Bennet Rural Fire District placed into service the newest addition to their fleet, a 2020 Pierce Pumper. When first beginning the specification process, the committee sought to design a 1000-gallon pumper that could also carry all of the department’s rescue equipment, as well as structure fire and medical equipment. After lengthy research, they determined that the 70-inch Pierce Enforcer cab was best suited to fit their needs. Powering the rig is a Cummins L9 380hp motor, paired with an Allison transmission. The truck has a 1,500gpm Darley pump with a side-mounted pump panel and vertical lever action controls. Additionally, a Husky 3 Foam System allows for the department to have pre-plumbed foam for car fires and other smothering-type fire suppression calls. Because of the many gravel roads, the Tak-4 Independent Front Suspension was selected. There is room for six firefighters, with five SCBA seats.
The new truck, Engine 30, was designed around a rescue engine-type concept. The driver’s side of the rig is set up for fire suppression, while the officer’s side holds all of the rescue and extrication equipment. Hoses off the rear include 800’ of supply line, 500’ of 3” line, and two 150’ attack lines. Hard-suction hose is stored in a rear compartment that is sealed from dust and dirt while driving down the gravel roads. The truck is set up with a rear large-diameter intake. With many of the houses in their fire district having long, tight driveways, this feature allows for quicker hook-up to supply the pump with hose coming off the rear hose bed.
Since this was the first custom fire apparatus purchased by the department, the team’s pre-construction trip to Appleton was instrumental for seeing options that would help to achieve their design goals. The number one goal of the department was firefighter safety. An idea taken from another Pierce truck on the assembly line was removing the cross lays from the pump panel area and moving the two hose loads to the front bumper. The cross-lay area near the pump panel was then available for a compartment to store their hazmat spill pads and booms, a Little Giant Ladder, a backboard, and extrication airbags. By having the two hose lines deploy from the front bumper, they removed them from the working area of the pump operator. Going into the build of the truck, the department was also open to a change in color from their standard red. During the factory tour, the committee saw a unit from Garland, TX and decided on the same grey-over-red paint scheme.
Proper scene lighting was critical because the Bennet Rural Fire District serves a very dark fire district with few streetlights outside of the village area. The front brow has the FireTech 72-inch brow light mounted on a tray, eliminating any shadow that would be created by mounting the light on top of the cab, behind the leading edge. The sides of the cab and the rear use the 5,000 lumen Guardian Junior, while the sides of the body each have two, 20,500 lumen Guardian Elite fixtures. The entire Guardian Series of lights are specifically designed for mounting on surfaces with a clear view of the ground under them, allowing illumination of the area right next to the truck. Additionally, the mounting bolts never contact the lenses of the fixtures, thereby preventing cracks and water intrusion. As stated by the Chief, “We were able to look at many of the HiViz lighting options on other engines during the tour of the Pierce plant in Appleton, Wi. We wanted to maximize the scene lighting without a light tower, light extensions, or a generator. We have 46,000 lumens on each side of the apparatus. We also liked that the lights have a lifetime warranty. They were a great value for the output.”
A huge thank you to Chief Tim Norris and the Bennet Rural Fire District for allowing us to feature their department’s new Pierce pumper!