Minipumper Handles 90 Percent of Alarms

Minipumper Handles 90 Percent of Alarms

A study of Arroyo Grande, Calif., fire alarm data for the five years 1968 through 1973 revealed that approximately 90 percent of the total alarms (subject to annual variations) were handled with a minimum of manpower and water.

We closely followed the success of the minipumper concept and we felt that it would be adaptable for Arroyo Grande. Using the mini-maxi concept, we decided it would be best to equip the minipumper with certain features to allow it to respond with major pumpers so that both units could be deployed tactically to achieve faster, more powerful attacks.

Fire department personnel, traveling on weekends, began a study of fire apparatus in various parts of the state. The personnel gathered facts on equipment and apparatus that were analyzed for their application in our department.

Contract awarded

After many months of research and much discussion, the writing of the specifications was begun by the department administration and reviewed by the department personnel. The design included an all-metal body to hold the tools and appliances on an initial attack vehicle. Finally, the specifications were completed and in September 1973, the city awarded a contract to the Van Pelt Fire Truck Company of Oakdale, Calif.

The Arroyo Grande minipumper is not a “grass fire rig,” but rather a scaled-down version of the most modern pumping engine available.

Our quick-attack, four-wheel drive vehicle has a high-pressure pump, tank, booster reels, dual 1 1/2-inch attack lines, 2½-inch supply line, ladders and an eductor system that allows the operator to select foam, AFFF or special penetrating agents for deep-seated fires. The front ground sweep nozzle allows the vehicle to make quick attacks on fast-moving grass fires with its pump-and-roll capability.

Held to 10,000-lb. GVWR

The mini is built on a four-wheel drive, 1-ton, commercial pickup chassis. The engine is a 392-cubic-inch V-8. Its GVWR was held to 10,000 pounds by careful planning. The 240-gallon water tank has an electronic gage that indicates the water level by red lights going out in sequence.

Additional features of our mini include a 4-ton electric winch and a transverse bed for preconnected 1½-inch hose. The 12 X 16.5 tires provide stability, minimizing any tendency to sway.

The mini has been designed to include structural fire attack capabilities and in addition to its off-road capabilities, it is able to reach structures without all-season driveways. It also can make narrow driveways with curves in hilly areas that defy regular size pumpers.

The officer in charge at a working fire has these tactical choices:

  1. Using the mini alone if only its capabilities are called for,
  2. Using the mini and maxi in combination, or
  3. Eliminating the mini and using only the maxi.

The chief officer ordinarily decides what tactics to use, but company officers are trained to make these operational decisions in the absence of the chief office. The fireground operations are conventional. The minipumper only modifies, not revolutionizes, procedures.

Color change

During the construction of our mini, we decided to consider change of apparatus color from the white we had been using.

An analysis of surveys revealed a definite trend in apparatus color to lime-yellow, which is scientifically valid. White is extremely popular after red. However, white is not an attention-getting color but is passive and does not signify urgency. Limeyellow is the one color that does not occur frequently and in addition, it provides an excellent contrast to backgrounds and therefore superior visibility. The high-visibility lime-yellow paint allows for quicker vehicle identification, which provides more safety than red or white.

The City of Arroyo Grande is proud to be progressive and accept changes which enhance its position in the central area of California.

Minipumper was built on four-wheel drive, 1-ton commercial pickup chassis and carries 240 gallons of water.

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