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Vestavia Hills (AL) Fire Department Gets Heavy Rescue from Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus

By Alan M. Petrillo

The Vestavia Hills (AL) Fire Department was seeking to purchase a heavy rescue truck, which would be the first one in the city’s fleet, in order to consolidate all their rescue equipment into one rig. The truck committee decided to look at both new and used rescue trucks in order to stay within the budget allocated for the purchase.


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Scott Ferrell, battalion chief of EMS for Vestavia Hills, says the department had been using a couple of 14-foot trailers to carry rescue equipment, especially specialized technical rescue gear. “This was rope equipment and water rescue equipment,” Ferrell points out, “and whenever we got a call to use that type of equipment, we had to take time to hook up the trailers behind one of our pickup trucks, so a dedicated heavy rescue truck would really improve our response time.”

Christian Elliott, battalion chief of training for Vestavia Hills, says the department didn’t want a walk-in rescue, “So we looked at a number of new rescue trucks built by manufacturers on commercial cab and chassis that were in our price range, but didn’t find anything that fit really well with our situation,” Elliott says, “That’s when we decided to consider used rescue trucks and contacted Brindlee Mountain who were able to find us a truck that fit our needs, especially one that had low mileage of 9,400 miles.”

Sam McMunn, apparatus salesman for Brindlee Mountain, says his company located a heavy rescue truck for sale by the Little Rocky Hills (NJ) Volunteer Fire Department. “We went up there, test drove and operated the rescue truck, and looked it over pretty closely,” McMunn says. “When we got the rescue truck to our facility in Alabama, we ran it through our shop, and our technicians checked it out and made a list of upgrades that should be made.”

McMunn notes that every vehicle that comes into Brindlee Mountain’s shop gets a mechanical check-in. “Our techs go through the truck and check fluids and filters, test drive the vehicle, note any cosmetic damage, check the undercarriage, springs and tank cradle, look at tires and tread depth, the cab interior and upholstery, lighting, switches, controls, and if a pumper, do a pump test, and for an aerial, check out the aerial device and often have it reviewed by a third party,” he says.

The Vestavia Hills rig is a 2003 Pierce Saber heavy rescue truck with seating for six firefighters, five of whom are in SCBA seats. Wheelbase on the rescue is 208 inches, overall length is 32 feet 5 inches, and overall height is 11 feet 1 inch. It is powered by a Cummins 350-hp engine and an Allison 3000 EVS automatic transmission. The rescue also has an LED light tower, onboard generator, air cascade system, SCBA bottle filling station, two hosed hydraulic reels, and two electric cord reels.

But there were changes to be made to the vehicle that would be included in the sale price, McMunn notes. “These included a new air horn paddle, servicing of the air cascade system and generator, replacing a light on the light tower, hydro testing the bottles in the cascade system, full striping, full chassis service, a DOT inspection, repair of body damage to a roll-up door, changing out the U-bolts on the leaf springs, and the addition of a new 72-inch Whelen Edge® Freedom® IV Rota-Beam™ LED light bar,” he says.

Later service changes that Vestavia Hills had Brindlee Mountain perform included a Whelen LED light upgrade, 110-volt plugs in the cab for rechargeable flashlights, a pull-out tray for hydraulic rescue tools, and a pull-out tray with an outboard motor mount for the department’s swift water craft, McMunn adds.

Vestavia Hills Fire Department has 102 paid full time firefighters operating out of five stations with five engines, one aerial ladder, three EMS  transport units, two rescue trailers, and several utility pickup trucks, covering the 19-square-mile city of Vestavia Hills with a population of approximately 36,000 residents.

“We are part of Division G of the Alabama Mutual Aid System (AMAS),” Elliot notes. “We’ve been deployed around the state to respond to tornado damage and have done so numerous times. AMAS will be another opportunity for us to use this heavy rescue.”

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.

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