The Bakersfield (CA) Fire Department is standardizing its fleet of engines through a seven-year contract with KME that has delivered five pumpers thus far, with a sixth engine in production and expected to be delivered later this year.
Ross Kelly, Bakersfield’s deputy chief of special services, says that standardization is important in the department, especially on its engines. “We have six KME front line engines,” he says, “and with these KME engines, which we have been getting since 2012, we configured them all the same so our firefighters know where the equipment is on any of the vehicles they ride on.”
The Bakersfield Fire Department has 180 paid personnel operating out of 14 fire stations that cover approximately 150 square miles and a population of 380,000. “One focus when we went to KME was to make sure the engine’s angle of approach and departure was appropriate for the hilly terrain we have in some areas of our community and also that the engine has power and strong braking capability,” Kelly says. “So one of the things we did with KME was switch the pumpers to a Cummins ISX 12 500-hp diesel engine, and an Allison 4000 EVS automatic transmission.”
Ryan Slane, KME’s product manager for pumpers and tankers, says that “at 500 hp and 1,645-foot-pounds of torque, the Cummins ISX 12 has plenty of get-up-and-go for this type of application. For added braking capability, we installed an engine compression brake and a Telma drive line retarder.”
Slane points out that because Bakersfield is in a desert area with hot, dry, dusty conditions, the department chose KME’s 96-inch-wide Severe Service chassis and cab because of its rugged duty reputation. “We put the highest output cfm air conditioning unit on the rig, as well as the maximum amount of insulation in the roof, interior walls, and doors to keep the heat out of the crew area,” he notes.
Kelly points out that the department also specified a maximum height for the pumpers because some stations have low door openings or interior spaces. “Because of the height in a few of our stations, we spec’d the engines not to exceed 118 inches high on any point of the vehicle and went with the KME flat roof,” Kelly says. “KME was very flexible to make sure the ladder rack, hardware, roof and A/C unit were below the 118-inch requirement.”
That low height rule extended to the engine’s deck gun, says Joe LaRocca, KME apparatus salesperson. “We put a deck gun in the dunnage area that’s an Akron Brass manual 2416 Apollo monitor with an Akromatic 1,250-gpm electric nozzle, and a Task Force Tips 18-inch Extend-A-Gun telescoping waterway,” LaRocca says. That monitor is fed by a Waterous CMU-C20 1,500-gpm two-stage pump, he adds, and the pumpers carry 750-gallon water tanks and 20-gallon foam cells, as well as FoamPro 2001 foam systems and Elkhart Brass electric valves.
Scott Standridge, Bakersfield battalion chief, says the KME pumpers hold their ground ladders in Ziamatic dual-arm ladder storage racks, have aluminum hosebed covers, and storage for four SCBA bottles. The rigs have Code 3 warning light packages, FRC telescoping 155-watt Evolution LED floodlights at the rear of their cabs, two recessed 75-watt Whelen Pioneer LED floodlights at the rear sides, and David Clark intercom systems.
Standridge says the pumpers carry Holmatro rescue tools (power unit, spreader, cutter, and ram) in the driver’s side rear compartment, and that the three upper compartments on each side have removable dividers to allow the storage of long-handled tools. “The engines also carry a PPV fan, rope rescue and swift water rescue equipment, and a Stokes basket,” he notes. “We have three ladder trucks that carry a full complement of rescue equipment, but we wanted each engine outfitted to handle rescues on its own.”
Kelly points out the department is very satisfied with the KME pumpers. “In 2015, we got two KME pumpers delivered and they went to our busiest stations, each running more than 4,000 calls a year,” he says. “One of those stations is on target for hitting 5,000 calls this year, which has been a very good test of the Severe Service aspect of the pumpers.”
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.