By Alan M. Petrillo
The officers and firefighters at the Branson (MO) Fire Department got the opportunity from the city of Branson to fund a new engine and looked to several manufacturers to produce a rescue-pumper that would meet the needs of a fire district that covered 11,000 residents and eight million visitors annually.
“We’re a small town with big city features,” says Ted Martin, Branson’s chief. “We have 100 live music shows in 40 theaters, theme parks, world class golf, and a lake system for fishing and water sports, so we are a tourism destination. We have a fleet of engines and a ladder truck staffed daily by 12 firefighters in three stations, and we wanted a rescue-pumper that focused on firefighter safety first but could carry all the equipment needed on one vehicle for rescue and fire suppression that could be used by one company.”
Branson Fire Department chose KME to build a KME PRO rescue-pumper carrying a Hale DSD 1,500- gpm pump, a 500-gallon water tank with a 50-gallon integral foam tank, a Hale Foam Logix 3.5 foam system, and an Akron Brass 3440 remote control 1,250-gpm deck gun.
Jeff Kahler, vice president and salesperson at Jon’s MidAmerica, who sold the rig to Branson, says “The department had a truck concept and design in their heads when I walked in the door. I got them to set that aside and talk about their mission now and what it will be 10 years from now.”
Kahler notes the department wanted an air bottle cascade system on the vehicle. “I asked them how many bottles can you fill from a two- or four-bottle system,” he says. “Then I suggested we put two extra SCBA air bottles per firefighter on the truck. That eliminated the weight and maintenance of a cascade air system.”
The department truck committee and Kahler also talked about generators. “Typically they would use a generator for a cord reel,” he notes. “Well, a suitcase generator will run a ventilation fan, so we went with a 12-volt system that gives them the same lumens as before but with an inverter in the truck for a 120-volt charging station instead of a generator. We made the entire vehicle 12-volt, including the Will-Burt NightScan light tower with FRC Evolution light heads.”
Ryan Slane, KME’s product manager for pumpers and tankers, says because the KME PRO pumper’s pump is forward of the body and split-shaft-driven, it can be upgraded for pump-and-roll (which Branson did not choose), but also means there’s more space for four full body compartments on each side, 29-inches deep and full height.
“One of the unusual elements to this truck was Branson wanted manual control valves for the majority of its discharges,” Slane said. “That cuts the cost for the customer, and adds simplicity to the design, but means more work and complexity for the manufacturer.”
Martin points out that the department chose to go with all manual valves, except for one air-controlled valve, to reduce the risk that electronic failure could put the rescue-pumper out of action. “It was a challenge for the design professionals at KME, but they met that challenge,” Martin says. “We also chose not to do a multiplex system on the rescue-pumper and instead had KME do all color-coded direct wiring, which will make it easier for our fleet mechanics to troubleshoot if necessary.”
Martin says that Branson had KME designate a special compartment on the vehicle for firefighter turnout gear when returning from a call. “If the firefighters are driving to an assignment, or coming back from a call after a fire, we wanted the gear in a compartment, instead of the cab of the truck,” he says. “We also chose higher-end seating in the cab—USSC Valor seats with Zico Easy-lock SCBA brackets—driver and officer frontal air bags, and 360-degree cameras on the exterior of the rescue-pumper.”
The interior of the KME cab seats five firefighters: driver, officer, and three forward-facing firefighters in the back of the cab, Martin notes. “There’s an EMS compartment secured behind compartment doors on the back wall of the cab, and the steering wheel is a Smart wheel with all necessary buttons on it so the driver can keep his hands on the wheel.”
The KME PRO rescue-pumper carries a Whelen LED warning light package, FRC Evolution LED side scene lights and an FRC Evolution LED flood light at the rear, a Zico ladder at the back, four coffin compartments on top, all ROM roll-up doors, ROM LED compartment lighting, and Petersen LED truck headlamps.
The rig has six preconnects: three 1¾-inch crosslays of 200 feet each, one 2½-inch crosslay of 200 feet, one 100-foot 1¾-inch handline in the front bumper, and a 200-foot 2½-inch preconnect tipped by a Task Force Tips Blitzfire nozzle off the rear. The hosebed carries 750 feet of 5-inch LD and 400 feet of 2½-inch hose. Price on the rig was $605,747.
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.