custom fire apparatus

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.

You’ll have an opportunity to interact with this safety feature at Firehouse World 2019.

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

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.

BME Safety Innovations for USFS Water Tenders

USFS Water Tenders

Safety is a critical aspect when designing any apparatus that will be operating in the urban wildland interface. Although some rigs have seating in the rear, the cab of the truck is where firefighters will spend most of their time when responding to incidents. It’s natural that many of the safety features added to protect them will be on the chassis. The initial structural change was made on the USFS Water Tenders to increase safety and durability. 

Rollovers, collapsing tree branches, and rough terrain are just a few of the scenarios Boise Mobile Equipment (BME) takes into consideration when innovating the design of our fire apparatus. There are a myriad of safety elements incorporated into today’s apparatus to protect firefighters on the line; the most recent innovation was our 4”x4” steel tubing cab protectors and tubular body construction.

Protective Shell for Safety

These fire bodies are MIG and TIG Welded Aluminum, Galveneal, or Stainless Steel.  We start the process with 2”x3” tubing to form the body skeleton and wrap it with 12 gauge Stainless, Galveneal, or 3/16th inch Aluminum. The bodies are built with this type of construction to add safety for firefighting personnel, as well as durability. On our existing Type 3 Engines and our new Type 4 and Tactical Tenders, we have elevated the tube behind the cab to add a layer of rollover protection to our vehicles.  

BME added the very first set of 4”x4” steel tubing cab protectors to the USFS Water Tenders. The water tenders have low bodies and were unprotected during rollovers prior to adding the rack. Each piece was manufactured, welded, and assembled at our West Morris Hill location in Boise, ID. The new USFS trucks (Type 3, Type 3 Heavy and Type 4) will have BME’s signature Type 3 tubular construction. These bodies will protect from both steep grade rolling and high speed freeway crashes.

Triangulated points (gussets) are added both to the cab protectors and steel frame for increased strength and to reduce crushing points. We put emphasis on strength with triple passed welds, beveled joints and grade 8 hardware used to secure the rack to the chassis. Lastly, rubber body mounts are used to eliminate vibration when on rough terrain or traveling at high speeds. 

USFS firetruck headache racks

A Safe Build Cannot Outperform Training

We are proud to serve the fire industry with our wildland apparatus; ultimately, our goal is to design an engine that will get firefighters home safely every time. There is no quick-fix or cure all for roll-over accidents, but with adequate training the likelihood of an accident is reduced. Extensive training for both station and volunteer firefighters is critical in avoiding these tragic incidents in the future. 

Firefighters have enough to focus on while they are doing their job and they don’t have time to question if their truck will work. We build our fire trucks “the BME way” which means tubular bodies, stainless steel plumbing, and heavy duty doors. Our clients know they are getting the best wildland trucks on the market and a great team behind them. We have built thousands of wildland trucks and collaborated with some of the best wildland firefighters, municipalities, and government agencies to build the best apparatus in the industry. We know what works and what it takes to get the job done. 

Custom Builds

BME builds custom fire apparatus to meet your departments needs and constantly innovating to fulfil obligations. We don’t just offer option A or B, but work with each customer to understand their specific needs. Through a collaborative effort, we recommend or create a design that will exceed your expectations. Whether you are a small department, large municipality, or a federal contract, you are important to BME and will never be a just a number.

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