When Pierce Manufacturing decided to design a new cab about a year ago, they took firefighter customer feedback to their engineers. This concept has always been central to Pierce’s way of doing business.
And the customers proved to be picky. The new cab—which Pierce dubbed the Dash CF—had to have more room in the front not only for the driver, but also for the officer. To accomplish that, Pierce engineers repositioned the engine rearward and down low between the frame rails. The seats were moved inboard to provide more leg, elbow and shoulder room, and to provide easier access to seatbelts—firefighters have long complained that seatbelts are difficult to access. The cab also was designed with more storage space options for turnout gear and equipment.
The Dash CF has greater visibility, with two wiper blades and no center post, which drops the front windshield 10 inches and also drops the driver and officer windows, giving them added visibility. The front dashboard is also ergonomically designed with better access and controls as well as maintenance areas easily accessible for mechanics.
Pierce debuted the cab and chassis at its plant in Appleton the month before FDIC 2011 in a special event for fire service media. The vehicle’s official unveiling came at FDIC. Both the media and the fire service gave the Dash CF great accolades.
Back at the Fire Department …
While this was going on, the Cedar Hill (Texas) Fire Department (CHFD) was in the process of speccing out a new engine. “We usually keep our vehicles front-line for 12 years and then in reserve nine years,” says CHFD Chief John Ballard. “It was time to replace one of our existing engines. During this time we saw all of the ads for the new Pierce Dash CF.” The CHFD’s entire fleet is from Pierce: a 1999 Dash engine, 2001 and 2006 75' Pierce Arrow XT quints, and a 2008 Velocity engine.
Yet Ballard notes that going with Pierce wasn’t a given. “Our purchasing is through the HGAC [Houston-Galveston Area Council], which is a cooperative purchasing program. Even though Pierce is on this program, we gave other manufacturers the chance to talk to us to see what our needs were. We don’t go over the top with any apparatus purchase, and really consider everyone.”
However, after considering what was out there, the CHFD decided to go with Pierce again. “It really is important to us to have continuity with maintenance, training and similarity with the operation of our apparatus,” Ballard notes.
The local dealer, Siddons-Martin, drove one of the Dash CF demos from Oklahoma to the CHFD. “After driving it and looking at the vehicle, we felt that this was a good platform for us,” Ballard says. “The lower 4" step height in the front made it easier for our drivers and officers to get in and out of the vehicle. The extra storage space, wheelbase maneuverability and overall rear room were important to us.”
The CHFD chose the PUC chassis to go along with the new Dash CF cab. “It gave us the ability to have the pump panel enclosed, as well as having the maintenance of the pump housing with easier access,” Ballard says. “As usual, we traveled out to the factory for our inspection trips and as many times as I have been out there, I am always amazed at the operation and the people who work for Pierce. Talking to people on the line is probably the best part of the process. Some of the workers on the line remembered working on our past vehicles. Some of the engineers who come out and do the training on the vehicles after we take delivery also have worked on the line and know how the vehicles are built.”
Some touches added to this engine: a special EMS compartment, coffin compartments and a roll-up shutter door over the hosebed. “Similar to our other engines, this vehicle features a CAFS Husky Foam System, 20 gallons of Class A foam, a Whelen LED light package and FRC scene lighting,” Ballard says. “We added some other touches, such as a chrome bumper and Rhino Lining on top of the vehicle to keep our firefighters from slipping. All of the mounting of the tools was done by our local dealer Siddons-Martin, who does an excellent job all around.”
The CHFD’s Dash CF was the first production model produced; it was on display at Fire-Rescue International in August. “The greatest asset of dealing with Pierce is that their customer support is recognized as top quality,” Ballard notes. “We have had some minor issues with our vehicles in the past, but the local dealer worked through them with us until the problems were solved. That is important to us.”
Consider the Options
Whether you’re buying the first production model of a new apparatus or a tried-and-true design, you must do your homework. Even if you have a certain manufacturer in mind, investigate what’s out there and what options are available to you. If you don’t have to go out for competitive bidding and can choose from some of the purchasing consortiums out there, you may be able to realize a faster build process. There’s a great deal of new options for purchasing today.
Be proactive like the CHFD, and your spec and purchasing processes should go smoothly.
Sidebar: Cedar Hill (Texas) Fire Department
Located southwest of Dallas, Cedar Hill is a community of 47,000 spread across 36 square miles. The fire department includes four stations and 78 members who run approximately 5,500 fire and EMS calls annually. The suburban bedroom community features shopping malls, schools and light industry.
Sidebar: Dash CF Specs
- PUC chassis
- 450-hp Cummins ISL engine
- Allison EVS 3000 automatic transmission
- 1,500-gpm Pierce pump
- 500-gallon Poly tank
- CAFS Husky Foam System
- 20 gallons of Class A foam