West Metro Pierce Rescue

Pierce delivers a vehicle that can meet multiple needs

The West Metro heavy rescue built by Pierce. (Photos by 5280 Fire Photography.)

When West Metro (CO) Fire Rescue (WMFR) needed to replace an existing heavy rescue, it turned to Pierce for the new acquisition. According to Marc Jordan, union vice president and strategic planning team member, “WMFR has a vehicle replacement program like most departments across the country.” Engines have a frontline service life of 15 years and to go to reserve for five years. Aerials have a frontline service of 12 years and go reserve for five to seven years. After reserve, vehicles are surplused out. Rescues fit somewhere in between engines and aerials. However, equipment needs and changes typically drive the replacement schedule.

As rescue responses, equipment, and techniques evolve, so must the apparatus. This new rescue replaced a 2004 rescue; the 2004 rescue replaced a 1993 rescue. These replacement frequencies are driven by historical repair costs and are adjusted accordingly. “Our fleet services division does a remarkable job of keeping our apparatus on the road,” Jordan adds.

Strategic Planning

“Yes, we do have a vehicle planning committee, but Chief Lombardi changed the format a few years ago,” Jordan says. “We now have a strategic planning team (SPT) where there are two co-chairs. The fire chief appoints one and the union president appoints the other. Any West Metro member can participate in the process.” In addition to the co-chairs, the fleet chair and personal protective equipment and equipment manager are standing members. These two members consistently participate because of how apparatus affects their respective responsibilities.

West Metro Fire Rescue (WMFR) is a full-service, all-hazard fire and rescue agency, headquartered in Lakewood, Colorado. It is a special district government agency providing service to more than 280,000 residents in several Colorado cities and towns and two counties. With a district spanning more than 108 square miles, WMFR serves Lakewood, Morrison, Wheat Ridge, Edgewater, portions of the city of Golden, portions of unincorporated Littleton and Jefferson County, and Roxborough and Waterton Canyon communities (Douglas County).

WMFR has nearly 360 full-time firefighters who work out of 17 fire stations and 60 staff members. The firefighters work a 48/96 shift, working two consecutive 24-hour shifts followed by 96 hours (four days) off.

“While we have to go out to bid on all our major purchases, we were able to choose Pierce for this rescue,” Jordan says. “Through our experiences with various apparatus manufacturers, we find Pierce products to be superior in both customer service and build quality. We have a 30-year history of purchasing Pierce products. We have tried other manufacturers over the years but always come back to Pierce. Our local dealer is Front Range Fire Apparatus (FRFA) and our sale representative is Duane Doucette, FRFA CEO.”

“We have worked with Duane directly for 10 plus years,” Jordan continues. “Duane had 22-plus years as a Pierce employee prior to joining FRFA. His wealth of knowledge is based on working in various areas on the manufacturing floor in addition to a myriad of management positions.”

Above: The driver’s side compartments, showing spare SCBA bottles, fans, high-rise packs, and lights.  Below: The officer’s side compartment showing saws, air bags, forcible entry equipment, and extrication equipment.

Above: The driver’s side compartments, showing spare SCBA bottles, fans, high-rise packs, and lights. Below: The officer’s side compartment showing saws, air bags, forcible entry equipment, and extrication equipment.

Above: The driver’s side compartments, showing spare SCBA bottles, fans, high-rise packs, and lights.  Below: The officer’s side compartment showing saws, air bags, forcible entry equipment, and extrication equipment.

Staying with Pierce gives the department the commonality of parts, training, and maintenance, which greatly helps its maintenance division.

Apparatus Duties

“Our district is more than 108 square miles in two counties; we serve nearly 280,000 residents with 17 stations,” Jordan says. “Our headquarters is in Lakewood, Colorado.”

Rescue 10 covers a first-due area of a typical engine and a second- and third-due area as a truck company given the ladder complement and truck-related tools. Rescue 10 has a full complement of extrication equipment and covers roughly one fourth of the district for extrication responses. Additionally, each of the truck companies has a specialty: hazmat, extrication, tech rescue, etc. “Rescue 10 is our primary technical rescue response vehicle,” Jordan says. “We respond to rope rescues (high and low angle). We also handle all building and trench collapse responses in addition to confined space rescues.”

The primary difference with this rescue is it has a pump, water tank, hose, and ladder complement of a truck company. Previous rescues did not have a pump, water tank, or hose. And the ladder complements of the department’s prior rescues are those of an engine.

WMFR Pierce Velocity PUC Engine/Rescue Specs

• Chassis: Pierce Velocity.

• Engine: 525-hp Detroit DD13 diesel engine and Allison EVS 4000 automatic transmission.

• Pump: 1,250-gallon single-stage PUC.

• Pierce Command Zone advanced electronics.

• Additional features include the following: a Jake brake, a 10,000-pound Warn winch, a Whelen light package, a Harrison hydraulic 20-kW generator, and a Wil-Burt air-powered light tower.

“Some of the other changes we made on this truck include an air-powered light tower,” Jordan says. “Additionally, we took the dead space in the cab and installed a can, halligan, and Colorado hook. Our policy is that within five steps our firefighters will get off the rig with these tools.”

“We also looked at a lot of other vehicles in the area and modeled this rescue off of the Arvada Fire Protection District’s vehicle,” Jordan adds. “We joined specs and also added some of our own specs.”

The vehicle carries confined space rescue equipment, a full complement of air bags, two grip hoists, high-rise support equipment, shoring equipment, extrication equipment, and various saws. It also carries engine company fittings, nozzles, etc.

Hose loads consist of 800 feet of five-inch large-diameter hose, 100 feet of 1¾-inch hose off the front bumper, two 1¾-inch attack lines of 250 feet each, 500 feet of 1¾-inch according to the load, and a deck gun. Ground ladders consist of a 24-inch, 35-inch, 16-inch, eight-inch, 10-inch, 14-inch, and little giant ladder.

The rear of the rig showing the hosebed, a complement of ground ladders, and a portable winch.

The rear of the rig showing the hosebed, a complement of ground ladders, and a portable winch.

“We also went with a Pierce Ultimate Configuration (PUC),” Jordan says. “We merged with a smaller department a few years ago that had two PUC pumpers, so we decided to standardize with it. It is a little different for our engineers since this new vehicle has electronic valves. We also went with a single-stage pump; all previous pumpers were two-stage. We now pump in neutral, not in drive as before.”

Making Changes

WMFR had to make some changes with this apparatus purchase. It changed from having just a heavy rescue to a rescue with a pump and a tank. While the rig operates as an engine, it also covers the district as the primary technical rescue vehicle. WMFR is like most departments around the country; it is trying to be proactive and get the best use of its new apparatus for the money.

Staying with Pierce gave members an advantage with parts, training, and maintenance, but they did have some training issues with their engineers concerning a single-stage pump, electronic valves, and the overall operation. However, with proper training, they overcame these minor issues and now have a functional apparatus that will last them for a while.

By Bob Vaccaro

Bob Vaccaro has more than 40 years of fire service experience. He is a former chief of the Deer Park (NY) Fire Department. Vaccaro has also worked for the Insurance Services Office, the New York Fire Patrol, and several major commercial insurance companies as a senior loss-control consultant. He is a life member of the IAFC.

Pennwell