fbpx

boise mobile equipment

Types of Fire Trucks and their Purpose

Three Fire Apparatus, red type 3, USFS green Type 4, and a red Type 6 parked on asphalt in front of forgery

Fire engines have advanced throughout the last four centuries. The first fire engines were human-propelled water pumps with no room for personnel. Around the end of the 1800s, the threat of fire within densely populated areas brought about paid firefighters equipped with horses to pull the early apparatus.  The modern-day fire engine emerged in the 1960s armed with water pumps, a reservoir, and enclosed seats for the crew. 

 As the fire threats began to change, so did the specialization of the fire engine. 

What are the different types of fire engines?

Taking a look at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus, it classifies the vehicles by type and function. This is important because it created universal fire truck standards and terminology to help fire departments find an apparatus that will fit their needs.

Fire Engine Types and Classification:

Infographic explaining the different types of fire trucks

Type 1 Fire Engine

A Type 1 fire truck, typically responds to structural fires and is the most common type of fire truck in use today. Densely populated areas depend on a Type 1 fire apparatus to efficiently maneuver to the call and deploy an array of ladders to reach fires in elevated buildings.

A typical custom pumper holds around 400 to 500 gallons of water.  Oftentimes the amount of water needed to extinguish the fire cannot be supplied by the tank alone. Finding a reliable water supply is one of the most fundamental operations when arriving on the fire scene.

In addition, Type 1 pumpers are equipped to carry up to 4 firefighters. Commonly found on these apparatus are SCBA’s, chainsaws, circular saws, and many different types of specialized equipment dependent on the department’s needs.

Type 2 Fire Engine

A Type 2 fire truck features many of the same specifications and tools as the Type 1 fire truck. They are also the typical truck seen in a suburban area responding to structural fires. 

Commercial pumpers are more compact but still holds the same amount of equipment as Type 1. Typically seen first on the scene to start fire extinguishing tasks until more support arrives.

Type 2 pumpers typically carries 3 or 4 firefighters. Commonly found on these apparatus are SCBA’s, chainsaws, circular saws, and many different types of specialized equipment dependent on the department’s needs.

commerical pumper

Type of Wildland Fire Engines

A Type 3, Type 4, and Type 6 are what are considered “wildland engines” or “brush trucks.” These are the vehicles that respond to wildfires and have the ability to drive in rough terrain to respond to a fire or rescue.  

Wildland engines are specially designed for the technique of pump-and-roll.  This is a tactic where the vehicle drives with the pump engaged while a firefighter uses a hose to spray water on the fire.

Type 3 Fire Engine

Type 3 has four-wheel drives to make driving over rough terrain easier and has a maximum gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of over 26,000 lbs.  The minimum number of personnel a Type 3 must carry is 3.

Type 3 brush trucks are required to have a minimum of 500 US gallons of water and pump 150 US gallons per minute at a pressure of 250 pounds per square inch. Type 3 and Type 4 often look similar to one another. However, the biggest difference is their minimum personnel and tank capacities.

type 3 wildland fire engine

Type 4 Fire Engine

Type 4 Wildland engine is similar to a Type 3 but with very important differences. Type 4 are used to drive over rough terrain and weighs 26,000 lbs, but it sacrifices a smaller pump and less hose for a larger 750-gallon tank. The Type 4 standard of pumping is 50 US gallons per minute at a pressure of 100 pounds per square inch. The minimum number of personnel a Type 4 must carry is 2.

type 4 fish and wildlfie

Type 5, Type 6, and Type 7 Fire Engine

Type 5, 6, & 7 are usually built specifically for the department’s needs. These vehicles are typically pick-up truck-based with 4-wheel drive.

These engines are often seen in both wildland and suburban settings. These fire engines have a much smaller configuration than a typical Type 3 or 4 engine.  

The smaller body still allows the department to carry 50 to 400 gallons of water with the maneuverability and accessibility that you don’t have in Type 3 or 4.  

Types 5 through 7 are used heavily for the initial fire suppression response, and their GVWR’s are rated in ascending order from 26,000 lbs in Type 5 engines to 14,000 on Type 7. This engine classification is designed to hold a minimum of 2 people and carry hose diameters ranging from 1 inch to 1 ½ inch.

type 6 engine

Conclusion

As a general rule of thumb, fire engine types are specified from largest to smallest size, Types 1-2 being the largest to carry large pumps and ladders for structure fires, and Types 5-7 being the smallest for navigating rough wildland terrain. Type 3 and 4 engines are mid-sized engines built both for wildland mobility and large water capacity. The general difference between these two is that Type 4 engines have much larger water tanks than Type 3 engines.

We, at BME, specialize in wildland engines thus focusing on types 3-7. See our recent deliveries here. If you’d like to know more about types 1-2, click here to view more from our partners at Pierce Manufacturing. 

Fire Department Ranks

Fire Chief voicing commands during an active fire in the background

The fire service was developed as a paramilitary organization around 1647, which has helped create the structure of fire department rankings that we see today. 

A paramilitary organization is a semi-militarized organizational structure similar to those of a professional military but not actually part of the armed forces

When firefighters are hired, they are considered recruits. They must complete a recruit academy to become probationary firefighters and remain on probation for six months. Promotions to higher ranks are determined by years of experience, test scores, and other evaluative criteria.

Here is an outline of the firefighter ranks in order:

  1. Probationary firefighter
  2. Firefighter
  3. Driver engineer
  4. Lieutenant
  5. Captain
  6. Battalion chief
  7. Assistant Chief
  8. Fire chief

Fire Department Units

Fire department units are usually divided into a few basic categories:

  1. Company
  2. Battalion
  3. Districts

Company

Two or more firefighters are organized as a team, led by a fire officer, and equipped to perform certain operational functions. This is the basic unit.

Battalion

A battalion consists of several fire stations and multiple fire companies. A battalion chief has command over each fire station’s officers and each company or unit’s officers, as well as the uniformed firefighters.

Districts

This is another division that is most often employed only in the larger departments. A district chief is usually over several battalions.

Firefighter Ranks

Here is a look at each role within the fire service and its ranks.

Probationary firefighter

The probationary firefighter is an individual that is classified as entry-level within the hierarchy. They are often still undergoing training and evaluation to determine if there is an organizational fit. The period for the probationary term may span from 6 months to one year, depending on the individual and the organization.

Firefighter

After an individual completes the probationary period, they are referred to as a firefighter. The role of firefighter is responsible for much of the actual hands-on actions during a live operation. These tasks can include but are not limited to handling hoses, operating fire-rescue equipment, and conducting a search, find, and rendering of initial first aid care to victims of the fire.

Driver/Engineer

Fire engineers are responsible for the implementation of the firefighting vehicles that respond to emergencies. They ensure that the vehicle is clean and running efficiently, perform maintenance tasks, and drive the truck. In addition to knowing the apparatus in and out, the Engineer is also responsible for knowing the location of every alarm in his jurisdiction and the location of each hydrant.

Lieutenant

Aside from overseeing apparatus operation and the crew’s responsibilities, fire lieutenants are also responsible for candidate training, daily firehouse operations, and other duties. In the absence of the captain, lieutenants may stand in as acting captains.

Captain

This firefighter is the highest-ranking on-scene responder, responsible for directing operations at the scene of a fire incident and overseeing station duties. This role requires great responsibility, and the individual must have exemplary management skills and the ability to lead firefighters.

Battalion Chief

The Battalion Chief oversees administrative tasks such as employee scheduling and ensuring all firehouses under their scope are staffed for emergencies. Due to the nature of shift-work in firefighting, one fire department could have numerous rotating Battalion Chiefs ensuring 24/7 operational readiness.

Assistant Chief

The assistant Chief helps support the Fire Chief by ensuring a high standard in operational quality free from personnel issues that could jeopardize the department’s mission. In addition, the Assistant Chief also helps the Chief with matters such as budgets, community and department programming, training, and managing the success of the fire department.

Fire Chief

This is the highest-ranking position in the fire department organization. The Chief oversees all operations and roles inside the department and works with city officials to create a safer community. A successful Chief understands the value of legal agreements, partnerships, networking, trusting and empowering others, and stepping back to look at the big picture.

All ranks have the opportunity to work their way up the ranks to the fire chief.

As firefighters advance their careers, they are likely to assume more responsibility in managerial or administrative roles. It becomes their duty to train, assist, and promote the interests of their company, battalion, or district.

Reading Smoke Signals: How Firefighters Use Smoke Signals

Firefighters Reading and Understanding smoke signals

One of the most important skills all firemen should possess is the ability to read smoke signals. The ability to read the smoke at any position within the company can help those responding to the incident make better tactical decisions.

Smoke can help first responders determine the fire’s location, growth, toxicity, the direction of travel. In the case of a structure fire, it helps us predict hostile fire events like smoke explosions, backdrafts, and flashovers.  “Reading smoke can tell us what is happening now and, more importantly, what is going to happen in the future,” said author the author of The Art of Reading Smoke, David W. Dodson. “Watching how fast it is changing can tell if we have seconds or minutes before something happens.”

Types of Smoke Signals

The art of reading smoke must first start with what comprises the emission.  Smoke is made up of particulates, aerosols, and gases, and has four attributes:

  1. Smoke Volume
  2. Smoke Velocity
  3. Smoke Density
  4. Smoke Color

Smoke Volume

Smoke Volume can provide a useful indication of the location and indicates the amount of fuels off-gassing within an area. The measure of volume is important but unfortunately, it elucidates nothing much other than location. There can be large volumes of smoke with very little fire.

Smoke Velocity

Smoke Velocity is the speed of the smoke leaving the structure.  The velocity is an indicator of pressure that has built up within the compartment. If the velocity of smoke leaving an opening is agitated or turbulent, then rapid-fire progress is likely to occur. In these cases, unless the structure is ventilated and cooled a backdraft, explosive burning of heated gases, will occur due to the improper ventilation.

Smoke Density

Smoke Density refers to the thickness of the emission and how much fuel is laden in the smoke. Optical density refers to how difficult it is to see through the smoke. Thick or optically dense smoke contains a high concentration of particulates and is difficult to see through. The greater the smoke density the more likely a hostile fire event, such as flashover or rapid fire spread.

The thicker the smoke, the more spectacular the flashover or fire spread.  Worse yet due to the concentration, thick black smoke can be an ignitable fuel.

Smoke Color

Smoke Color is the visible shade of the spectrum and tells the stage of the fire as well as helps determine the location of the fire.  Petroleum products, rubber, and many plastics will produce black smoke.  Wood and other ordinary combustibles will commonly produce smoke ranging from light gray to yellowish.  

It’s important to make a distinction that lighter-colored smoke frequently contains a substantial concentration of unburned, highly flammable, and deoxygenated materials.  Under these conditions, the smoke can ignite and create a hazardous and possibly deadly situation for firefighters. When a fire produces dark brown or even black it is an indication that the fire is underventilated and/or it contains an abundance of petroleum products.  

Additionally, brownish smoke will tell you that fire has ignited wood, which usually means that the fire has infiltrated the structural integrity of the building and could provide a collapse hazard. The color of smoke is generally thought of as the most comprehensive indicator of fire behavior.  However, it is essential to remember that smoke color is only one indicator that is a part of a number of indicators used to predict fire behavior and it must be considered in context.

The above signs of reading smoke are excellent tools to have, but they are not all-inclusive. In The Art of Reading Smoke, David W. Dodson stresses that firefighters and incident commanders need to use their best judgment when reading smoke and committing firefighters to assignments. Here are a few tips Dodson shared in the first part of his book:

  • Stop watching the fire. The first big barrier to learning to read smoke is that our eyes are naturally drawn to light and movement, both of which are exhibited by fire. “The fire is the endgame,” Dodson says. “An experienced fire officer looks away from the light.”
  • Know the four characteristics of smoke: volume, color, velocity and density. More importantly, know how to look at smoke and quickly identify it in terms of these characteristics.
  • Thin, black, fast smoke indicates a well-ventilated fire is nearby.
  • Slow, white, dissipating smoke (first thick but thinning quickly) is a sign of steam, and indicates early stage heating.
  • Brown smoke indicates unfinished wood burning. In lightweight construction, this can be a warning sign for building collapse.

Firefighter Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Two Firefighters in full PPE putting out a structural fire with a hose

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) releases studies, each year, on firefighter deaths and injuries. An important part of the yearly study helps better understand how these fatalities and injuries occur to help minimize the risks of firefighting. A recurring reason cited in the study is the incorrect use of or absence of firefighting personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Read More

Guide to Purchasing Your Next Fire Apparatus

Blog banner with a gallery of BME fire trucks

Purchasing a new fire truck for your department can be a daunting task. From determining your department’s needs, meeting with manufacturers, planning apparatus specifications, and securing financial support from your community’s apparatus committee.

Let’s discuss ways to ensure you’ve covered all your bases before purchasing your department’s next apparatus.

Determining Your Department’s NeedsInfographic on how to purchase a new fire truck

Before purchasing a new apparatus, your department needs to assess your extensive needs.

These needs include:

  • Replace an aging apparatus
  • Modernize fire department fleet
  • Increase operator/occupant safety
  • Acquire features and functions not available on older apparatus
  • Increase reliability/reduce downtime
  • Reduce annual operating costs

“In my opinion, the key to acquiring any vehicle is acquiring the right one for the job and intended purpose. This might seem like a simple concept; however, any vehicle acquisition will be unsuccessful if the final product does not fulfill its intended mission from an operational, cost, safety, and acceptance standpoint,” said John Clements, manager, fleet operations San Diego County Fire Department.

Biding

It is important to have an open and competitive bidding process. You want to ensure that your department will purchase a quality apparatus that meets your needs and price. The bidding process begins with creating a specification document. 

Prepare the Document

The specification document entails what products your department is looking for. This document will help choose the right and cost-efficient manufacturer for the job. 

Choosing the Right Manufacturer

Choosing the right truck and manufacturer is half the battle. The type of disasters your department faces and the region you are located in should be considered when choosing your next fire truck manufacturer

For example, BME specializes in wildland vehicles, manufacturing apparatus for rural departments that respond to brush and wildfires: CAL FIRE, BLM, USFS, etc. 

Apparatus Committee

The cost associated with purchasing a new apparatus can be high, especially for more rural departments. This can make it difficult to justify to policymakers, especially if they fail to realize the total value of rescue vehicles. 

Fire chiefs and administrators need to have a cost-benefit analysis, such as maintenance costs, that can be used to back their investment in purchasing new mobile equipment. 

Pre-Construction Meeting

One part of the purchasing process is the pre-construction conference, which allows the department heads to view the construction of the new apparatus before being built. The pre-construction meeting is where all vehicle details are reviewed and provides the opportunity to determine final design configurations for dashboard, cab seating, pump panel, and interior body compartments.  

Pre-construction conferences are typically held at the manufacturer’s plant, where the department heads will have the ability to tour the facility.  This allows the buyer access to the multiple engineering and support personnel responsible for producing your new apparatus.

Final Inspection

A final factory apparatus inspection represents many months, if not years, of planning, communicating, and negotiation. Keep a running list of discrepancies or questions as you go through the inspection. As you review the apparatus and find concerns, make sure you write them down and discuss them with your representative at the end of each inspection session. 

Conclusion

Purchasing a new apparatus for your department is no easy task, but choosing the right manufacturer can make the process easier. 

BME Fire Trucks opened its doors in 1990 and has been serving the fire industry and firefighters for 30 years. We are dedicated to providing customers with individualized design options and exceptional craftsmanship with the highest safety standards and best durability in the market. We understand that fire and rescue departments face special challenges related to their unique environments, so we are committed to innovating to make better fire trucks that exceed your expectations. 

Types of Water Tenders: Support and Tactical

types of fire engines

What is a Water Tender?

A wildland water tender is a specialized vehicle capable of bringing water, foam, or dry chemicals to fire trucks in the field. Water tenders have a large truck-mounted tank with a minimum of 1,000 gallons and up to 4,000 gallons of water. 

Water tenders are typically larger, less agile apparatus. These vehicles are specifically designed for fires in more rugged terrain to help supply water for the fireline. Many modern water tenders can be used tactically to supply critical incident hose lies directly. 

Tenders are typically used in wildfires because urban fire departments usually get their water from water supply infrastructures. In contrast, rural departments transport large volumes of water to the fireline with water tenders because of a lack of access to municipal water systems.

Tactical water tenders can perform some of the functions of a wildland fire engine, such as deploying hose lengths. Unlike support water tenders, tactical water tenders are capable of a technique of pump-and-roll. 

Type of Water Tenders

standards for types of water tenders graphic PDF

Support Tender Type 1

This tender has a max capacity of 4,000 gallons of water but cannot pump and roll. It takes this engine about 30 minutes to refill and must have a minimum of 1 personnel in the cab. 

Support Tender Type 2

Support Tender Type 2 can hold a minimum of 1 firefighter and takes 20 minutes to refill its 2,500-gallon tank. 

Water Tender for Sale

Support Tender Type 3

This tender takes 15 minutes to refill its 1,000-gallon tank. It must hold a minimum of 1 firefighter and doesn’t have the capabilities to pump and roll. 

Tactical Tender Type 1

Tactical tenders can pump and roll, which makes them used more frequently on the wildland fireline. Type 1 has a max capacity of 2,000 gallons of water and holds a minimum of 2 personnel. 

commercial water tender

Tactical Tender Type 2

Tactical Tender Type 2 isn’t much different than Type 1 besides only holding a 1,000-gallon tank.

BME tactical tender wildland engine

Conclusion

Tenders allow for access to water before having to find a water source to put out the fire. It is essential to understand the difference in tenders to understand your department’s apparatus needs better.

How to Prepare and Evacuate for a Wildfire

evacuate for a wildfire

Prevention

No matter where you live, you may be at risk for wildfires. Several steps can be taken to ensure you are prepared for the unexpected circumstance of a fire while safely evacuating your family from your home. One of the simplest ways for minimizing or preventing wildfire damage to your property is known as fire mitigation.

The most effective strategy to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire is by creating defensible space around your property. It is recommended that you create two defensible space zones; a 30 foot and 100 foot zone, within this area you can take steps to reduce potential exposure to flames and radiant heat. Each zone will create a buffer between structures on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland surrounding it.

Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. If your home sits on a steep slope, standard protective measures may not suffice. Contact your local fire department or forestry office for additional information. 

wildfire preparedness week

Whether you live in a fire zone or live in the city it is important to have defensible space around your home. Along with defensible space it is also important to consider the following to protect your property and home:

Property Checklist

Prevention Checklist

Preparation

Before a wildfire it is crucial to protect your home and prepare for evacuations. If you live in an area under threat by wildfire, pay attention to official channels for evacuation orders. Make sure every member of your family has a bag packed with essential items to last you multiple days away from home. Along with each members disaster supply kit, make sure you have a family emergency plan and a means of transportation standing by. 

wildfire evacuation preparedness

Once you have each kit packed, maintain them on a yearly basis by replacing expired items and rethinking the necessary contents. Food and cans should be packed and kept in cool, dry places. Keeping emergency kits at home, in your car and at work are all good ideas since you never know where you’ll be when you need to evacuate.

Evacuation

Depending on your evacuation orders, an immediate evacuation of your home may be necessary. If there are evacuations in your area you should monitor local radio and news stations. Be prepared to leave at any time and if asked to evacuate, do so.  If you have time prior to evacuating the following four steps will aid in protecting your home and assisting fire fighters in their efforts. 

  1. Keep all doors and windows closed in your home.
  2. Remove flammable drapes, curtains, awnings or other window coverings.
  3. Keep lights on to aid visibility in case smoke fills the house.
  4. If sufficient water is available, turn sprinklers on to wet the roof and any water-proof valuables.
wildfire evacuation
Along with these items it is important to have an evacuation plan prepared that you and your family members are all familiar with. The checklist below will help your family  create the right plan. Each family’s plan will be different, depending on a variety of issues, needs, and situations. Create an evacuation plan that includes:
  • A designated emergency meeting location outside the fire or hazard area. This is critical to determine who has safely evacuated from the affected area.
  • Several different escape routes from your home and community. Practice these often so everyone in your family is familiar in case of emergency.
  • Have an evacuation plan for pets and large animals such as horses and other livestock.
  • Family Communication Plan that designates an out-of-area friend or relative as a point of contact to act as a single source of communication among family members in case of separation. (It is easier to call or message one person and let them contact others than to try and call everyone when phone, cell, and internet systems can be overloaded or limited during a disaster.

The 6 P's

In the event of a quick evacuation, remember the 6 P’s! By having these items prepared ahead of time, you can grab them on a moments notice and evacuate safely. 

  1. People & pets
  2. Papers, phone numbers, & important documents
  3. Prescriptions, vitamins, and eye glasses
  4. Pictures and irreplaceable memorabilia
  5. Personal computer, hard drives, and disks
  6. “Plastic” (Credit Cards, ATM Cards, and Cash)

Prevention is Key

Every year across the U.S., major wildfires test homeowners and firefighters, some homes survive while many others do not. Those that survive almost always do so because their owners had prepared for the eventuality of fire, which is an inescapable force of nature in fire-prone woodland areas. Another way we think of it as, if it’s predictable, it’s preventable!

The best way to protect your home and family during a wildfire is by adding prevention and preparation into your routine. There is a lot of steps to take to be prepared but they can make the difference between saving your home and potentially your life. 

BME Receives Tag-On from Cal OES

Cal OES

Boise Mobile Equipment (BME) received a $9.8 million dollar tag-on to produce Wildland Model 34 engines for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). BME will produce twenty-five CAL FIRE spec Model 34 apparatus to be delivered in 2020.

Cal OES coordinates fire mutual aid resources throughout the state of California. The agency responds to a wide range of disasters, making the Model 34 engine a highly important asset.

The BME Model 34 apparatus is built to handle the toughest terrain. Its rugged durability allows firefighters to respond to both wildland fires and provide structure protection in the wildland-urban interface, navigating rough roads and narrow driveways that pose problems for urban pumpers.

BME has over twenty-nine years of experience producing wildland apparatus for state and federal government agencies. BME engines have become essential in the fleets of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the United States Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Interested in tagging on to the CAL Fire order? Email us at sales@bmefire.com or visit our wildland page for more information.

Ad Campaign Highlights the Durability of BME Apparatus

type 3 fire apparatus

Last month we kicked off Boise Mobile Equipment’s 2019 ad campaign. Today marks our second ad in the series, featured in the March issue of Firehouse Magazine. While the first ad highlighted BME’s safety innovations, this month we focus on the durability of our wildland apparatus.

Wildland firefighting offers a unique set of challenges that are very different from structural firefighting. The roads are much rougher in the wildland, if there are roads at all. Wildland apparatus must be designed to handle these hazards when responding to fires in some of the country’s most inaccessible areas. BME trucks are built to withstand the worst the wildland can throw at you, taking you where other vehicles can’t go.

type 4 fire engine, type 6 fire engine, type 3 fire engine

Built for the Wildland

Every detail of a BME wildland apparatus is carefully considered in the context of the environment it will be used in. One of these details is our signature tubular body construction, the feature that makes our engines the safest on the market. The steel framework also increases the apparatus’ rugged durability, allowing it to handle the toughest fire response.

The secret to the body’s durability is in its materials. We build our tubular bodies with strong structural steel that withstands vibration far better than aluminum. The body is then mounted on the chassis in a flexible manner that allows for maximum twist without stressing the truck components. This is an essential part of any wildland apparatus since uneven terrain forces the truck to go through extreme twisting action that it doesn’t encounter on city roads.

Another aspect of BME rigs’ durability lies in their heavy duty doors. While most manufacturers build their fire trucks with roll-up doors, we choose to use formed and welded doors that are better suited for the wildland environment. The doors are attached with piano-style hinges with oversized pins, reducing wear and the amount of dirt that gets in. To keep dust out of the compartments, we dovetail the doors into the body and use neoprene bulb seal. These two inch thick doors are so strong that once a customer accidentally left the overhead doors of his apparatus open and they ended up slicing through five palm trees before they noticed.

Size is also an important factor that determines where a truck can go. Because of the varying kinds of wildland fire incidents, we offer a wide selection of wildland apparatus to tackle any situation. Our most popular build is the Type 3, but we also produce many Model 34s, Type 4s, Type 6s, Tactical Tenders, and Crew Carriers. Our Xtreme 6, an aggressive version of a Type 6, is especially suited for hard to access areas that larger engines can’t reach.

Type 6 fire engine

Peak Performance

We make conscious decisions during every step of the building process to ensure that our apparatus perform to maximum capacity. As BME vice president Larry Segreto explains, “[our] unique body design provides the lowest mounting of the mass of the water tank, maximizing stability for improved high-speed handling, side hill operation, and full use of available water.” We refuse to take shortcuts because we know that lives depend on how our trucks perform in the field.

That being said, accidents do happen and maintenance is sometimes required. That’s why we’ve made minor repairs easier than ever so you can fix your apparatus on the field and get right back into action. Our apparatus are hardwired with very little use of Multiplex systems or Nodes, making them simpler to repair on the go.

Type 3 Brush Truck
Photo by South Metro Fire Rescue

Longer Service Lifespans

Nothing proves the durability of our apparatus more than our customers. Some of our regular customers have large fleets of BME rigs, including the US Forest Service, the National Parks Service, and CAL FIRE. Many of our trucks have been in the field for over twenty years. You can still see BME Type 3s from the 90s responding to fires in west coast forests.

Our trucks have longer lifespans than our competitors because we refuse to take shortcuts. Building the BME way means we put thought into every step of the process, constructing high quality apparatus that get the job done year after year. That’s the BME difference.

New Ad Campaign Highlights the Significance of Safety Innovations

February 1 marks the official launch of our new ad campaign in Firehouse Magazine. This ad, featured in the February 2019 issue, is first in a series highlighting the aspects that make Boise Mobile Equipment (BME) stand out from competitors. We kick off the campaign with the feature we prioritize daily when building our trucks — safety.

It’s no secret that wildland firefighters face a unique set of hazards when responding to a fire. Falling trees, rough terrain, and vehicle rollovers are only a few of the dangers we take into consideration when designing our apparatus. Thanks to our tubular body construction, cab protectors, and enhanced tilt capability, every BME fire truck is guaranteed to get you there and get you home.

The Steel Skeleton

Just as a human body can’t function without a skeleton, and a building can’t stand without a frame, a truck’s body is only as strong as its framework. Most manufacturers in the industry construct their bodies from formed sheetmetal only, leaving it vulnerable to crushing if an accident occurs. That’s what makes BME different. The safety of our nation’s firefighters is our number one priority, so we aim to build the strongest body in the industry.

Our signature tubular constructed bodies are MIG and TIG welded aluminum, galvanneal, or stainless steel. First we start with 2”x3” tubing to form the body skeleton, wrapping it with 12 gauge stainless steel, galvanneal, or 3/16th inch aluminum. This adds a vital layer of protection for firefighting personnel and reinforces the cab and chassis. In the event of a rollover accident, the cab will not be crushed.

 

Proven to Save Lives

On July 15, 2015 a U.S. Forest Service Type 3 was en route to the High Sierra Ranger District in Prather, CA when it was sideswiped by an SUV. It was forced off the road, rolling four times before landing on its side. Since it was a BME-built truck, its tubular constructed body prevented the cab from being crushed and the structural integrity of the body remained intact, resulting in zero fatalities. Nine months later, one of the five firefighters involved in the accident visited our facility to express his gratitude for the tubular constructed body. He believed it helped in saving his and the others’ lives. We were thrilled that our steel framework played a role in his protection.

Rollover accidents don’t always have such happy endings. According to a study conducted between 1990 and 2009, vehicle accidents are shown to be the second leading cause of death among wildland firefighters. The fatality risk only increases when seat belts are not worn, which is sadly not uncommon. That is why we strive to reduce this fatality statistic, building a safer apparatus with tubular body construction.

Photo by California Highway Patrol

Other Safety Innovations

Though our steel framework already greatly increases structural integrity, we are always looking for new ways to improve the safety of our apparatus. That’s why we recently added 4”x4” steel tubing cab protectors to our U.S. Forest Service Water Tenders.

With the fire body protected by a steel framework, we turned our attention to the chassis for our next innovation. Since firefighters spend much of their time in the cab, we added a key safety feature to the chassis to increase occupant protection. Our Water Tenders seemed like the natural place to start, their low bodies making them especially susceptible to rollover damage.

Our 4”x4” steel tubing cab protector has cross-braces that prevent the cab from being crushed level to the tank during a rollover. Its triangulated points, or gussets, provide increased strength and reduce crushing points. The rack is solidly secured to the chassis with triple passed welds, beveled joints, and grade 8 hardware. We also use rubber body mounts to eliminate the vibration caused by traveling over rough terrain or at high speeds.

Another focus of our safety innovation program is the tilt table. We build our trucks with a low center of gravity to allow for a steeper tilt, making them more maneuverable over wildland terrain. While NFPA standards require a tilt of 26.5 degrees, BME apparatus can achieve a tilt of 35.2 degrees. This is just another reason why Boise Mobile Equipment has become the go-to apparatus manufacturer in the wildland industry.

Although we continue to add new innovations, the secret to BME’s superior safety lies chiefly the strength of our material. With options like stainless steel, galvanneal, and 3/16th inch aluminum, you can be certain you’re getting the sturdiest apparatus on the market. Through our collaborative design process, we leave it up to you to decide what materials suit your needs the best. With your safety on the line, we never take shortcuts.

USFS Water Tenders
cal fire model 34 engine tilt test

Keeping You Safe for 20+ Years

Because of the quality that goes into every step of the building process, our trucks have stood the test of time. Some of BME’s earliest apparatus, including a few U.S. Forest Service trucks from the early ’90s, are still in use to this day. Satisfied with their BME trucks’ performance over the last two decades, USFS is continuing to add more BMEs to their fleet.

Other vintage BME models are being auctioned in excellent working condition. Older BME apparatus are quite popular among volunteer fire departments looking for a reliable, cost-effective workhorse. We recently donated a 1980 Western State Pumper to a volunteer fire department in Owyhee County.

Our trucks are built to last because safety is our top priority. Building the BME way means we put thought into every step of the process, constructing high quality apparatus that get the job done year after year. That’s the BME difference.

Scroll to top