The Heavy One

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s heavy-rescue truck (radio call sign Heavy One) built on a Kenworth chassis with boom and jacks extended. (Photos by MDFR PIO.)
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s heavy-rescue truck (radio call sign Heavy One) built on a Kenworth chassis with boom and jacks extended. (Photos by MDFR PIO.)

The Frustration

According to Division Chief (Ret.) Millard Jenkins, MDFR technical rescue units have expressed frustration for years over the process of obtaining the proper larger heavy wrecker needed to save lives on challenging extrication scenes. Because the policy was that a law enforcement agency had to request the wrecker, often the wrong type was requested and even when the appropriate type was requested there was a considerable delay.

“We typically run 13 to 15 incidents a year that this unit could play a role in,” says Jenkins, “sometimes more when it comes to a need for a Class C or D wrecker to respond to an incident. Response times for an outside agency usually takes an hour or more.” With limited funding available, the purchase of such a specialized piece of equipment was always put to the end of the priority list.

“When I became chief of logistics after spending time in training and technical rescue, we were able to prioritize funding to make this a reality,” Jenkins says. “This new piece of apparatus will provide a new service countywide. It would enable us to get done what we needed faster by having our own specialized apparatus.”

Compartments showing rigging gear and equipment.

Vehicle Specs

When the department began working on specs for the new rig, which began three years ago, personnel sat down with Jerr-Dan, whose parent company is Oshkosh Trucks. “We didn’t just want this to be a heavy wrecker,” Jenkins says.” It had to be not only a wrecker but heavy rescue combined type of unit. There were no National Fire Protection Association standards to really go by when we designed the vehicle. So, we sat down with the engineers at Jerr-Dan and our apparatus committee, which consisted of members from technical rescue, urban search and rescue, and logistics, both firefighters and officers.”

The vehicle had to be designed from the ground up. Although it was a basic 60-ton rotatable crane, MDFR had to design compartments that would hold not only rigging equipment but heavy rescue tools as well. “Starting with a clean sheet of paper, we had to design how radios would be mounted, slide-out trays for compartments, where to mount rescue tools, etc.,” Jenkins says.

When the vehicle was pretty much completed, Jerr-Dan took it around to some shows around the country to see if it could get some feedback and make any necessary changes.

The thought process was to design the vehicle to be able to respond not only to motor vehicle accidents with heavy trucks involved but also train accidents; aircraft crashes; and agricultural areas, where the department has to lift cows and horses that become trapped in various canals located throughout the county.

And, believe it or not, the focus was also on the need to change tires on apparatus out in the field. “It has become a nightmare for us to have tires changed by the one vendor we have to respond in the field,” Jenkins says. “Traffic has been increasing yearly, so the possibility to have our own unit in the field do it quicker was another task this new unit could accomplish.”

The unit is equipped with Paratech jacks, shoring equipment, rigging equipment, air compressor, struts, Genesis heavy rescue tools and chains, as well as cutting torches. The department is trying to see if it can get an ISO credit for a service company as well. As far as training is concerned on the unit, the department has tasked its Technical Rescue Bureau to work with Jerr-Dan and develop training modules necessary to ensure technical rescue personnel are able to operate this unit safely and efficiently.

The unit will respond with personnel assigned to the heavy rescue that is centrally located in the county for easy and quick response.

The rear of the vehicle with boom retracted.

Get Creative

Once again, a fire department that had a special need for a specialized piece of fire apparatus that would fulfill multiple missions around the county it operates in created a vehicle that exactly meets its requirements. From major truck and auto accidents to farm animal rescue, MDFR took its time writing the specs with the manufacturer to meet its everyday needs.

You might not be able to get what you want right away when it comes to apparatus purchasing because of delayed funding, but planning ahead and seeing what might happen down the line are good ways to start the process.

The Miami-Dade (FL) Fire Rescue Department (MDFR)

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Heavy Rescue Truck Specs

  • 600-hp Cummins ISX Motor (EV).
  • Allison 4500 Series Automatic Transmission (EV).
  • Simard twin steer from axles 20,000 each.
  • 52,000 rear axle.
  • Two-tone cab paint.
  • Three-piece wrecker boom.
  • Two-piece outriggers.
  • Hydraulic oil cooler headboard.
  • Headboard marker lights amber - pair.
  • In-body lights and wiring.
  • Under-body lights and wiring.
  • Two 72-inch Whelen NFPA LED light bars.
  • Two 22-inch Whelen NFPA LED wing lights.
  • Whelen Pioneer LED wrecker boom light.
  • Hella lower hookup lights.
  • Hella underlet work lights.
  • Hella upper hookup lights.
  • Hella upper work lights.
  • Hella outrigger area lights.
  • House lock.
  • Seven-way trailer plug.
  • Glad hands at tailboard.
  • Tailboard dress-up plates.
  • Fifth wheel attachment.
  • Pintle hook with two-inch ball attachment.
  • Pintle hook with 50mm ball attachment.
  • D-rings located at tailboard.
  • Factory installation.
  • Backup camera (camera located on spade housing w/ in-cab monitor).
  • Plastic/composite outrigger pads 30-inch square (set of six).
  • NFPA-compliant zone emergency lighting.
  • Chevrons on rear of unit.
  • Chevrons on sides of outriggers.
  • Rotor-Ray on front of unit.
  • Steel front bumper with chevrons.
  • Federal “Q” on front of unit recessed into the bumper.
  • Flashing lights at end of outriggers.
  • Bostrom seats in cab (black).
  • Tire pressure monitoring system.
  • Kussmaul battery/air charger with auto eject.

Clarion UX