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I volunteer for a small department and we are looking to possibly build our own brush truck.
Looking for some ideas or just a starting place I guess. If anyone out there know of any good sites to go to or maybe some expert advice we would truly appreciate it.

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You should check out They make brush trucks custom designed for each department's needs. Their brush trucks are of high quality. Check them out, you won't be dissappointed.
Texas has an active wildland season. Look around for contract companies and folks that build Type 6 Engines for them. look at what they've got and if any are willing to help you out.
If yall are looking to build it in house a good platform is a military truck duece and half or a 5 ton. We built 1 with the 5 ton model. It has a 2300 gallon tank, small pump, a remote small deck gun nozzle. it works pretty well. It has air accutated valves that open from tank to pump and then to the nozzle. Good place to start is Memphis equipment they have tons of trucks and spare parts. Good luck!
2300 USG of water is 9.5 tons.

In my old department we used military 2.5 ton or maybe a 5 ton (it has been a while) they were surplus and after it burned they purchased two more. They purchased two because they needed to make the two surplus vehicles into one. I think that they paid somthing like 5,000 for each and they were rough. There apparently is a lot of choices in military surplus even within the 2.5 and 5 ton models and you probably get what you pay for. Make sure you go for a diesel. My old department did it themselves but they also had a full time mechanic and some very talented members. If I recall they had some issues with the brakes and lots of guys did not want to drive it. I think that they also added a automatic transmission, probably not a small feat!

Check out this page:

They will basically tell you what you need to do from start to finish if you want to do it yourself. My current department has a pickup truck with a skid unit. Works great and is cheap and if something breaks we can go to the parts store. With a military surplus vehicle you may have trouble finding parts?. We take the skid unit out in the winter to use the truck for other purposes. Good Luck!
for a smaller volunteer department maybe have a look at a skid with a couple hundred gallons of water with a 100 gpm pump and a hose reel c/w 1" forestry hose on a F-550 flat deck and some bins to carry your shovels and gear. pretty simple and straight forward. do you want pictures?
many of the departments I know of here have bought a one ton pick and bought a skid unit for the back one dept just bought one something like 250 gallons with a small pump and reel with tool holders. Pretty much slides in bolts down and add a power wire. about $10,000.
Chad, the only advice I can give is make sure you have either seats or stands that you can ride on. It is a lot easier to have someone drive while you spray from out side the truck than sit in the truck and try to aim by remote. remember comfort is not allways the best or the most effective.

Stay safe. Chris Borchardt W.F.D
Hey Chad,

A small dept, youre probably looking for something smaller and trying to save some bucks. In our neck of the woods, we've had good luck w/ standard 1 ton p/u trucks (pick your poison) and purchase a 3rd party skid unit (our dept. recently purchased CET units) Most depts are able to acquire p/u trucks on a state bid at a much discounted rate, and of course youre tax exempt. Theyre effective, easy to obtain and able to be built in house. These skid units can be customized as much as you want, but a basic 200gal w/ 100' booster and 13/4 crosslay is a catchall. In most cases, you simply slide the skid unit in the bed of the truck and bolt it down. Another idea I saw was that of contacting your local division of forestry or conservation dept. These organizations do often times offer assistance to fire depts in obtaining their used apparatus for free or next to nothing...often "on loan". I can offer pics of some of our trucks also if you're interested. Good Luck
Chris Borchardt said:
Chad, the only advice I can give is make sure you have either seats or stands that you can ride on. It is a lot easier to have someone drive while you spray from out side the truck than sit in the truck and try to aim by remote. remember comfort is not allways the best or the most effective.

Stay safe. Chris Borchardt W.F.D

This is so non-compliant.
Per NFPA, no one on the outside of the rig while it is in motion. All personnel to be seatbelted before the truck is put in gear.

If you are putting down a wet line or running any kind of Pump and Roll operation, the hose guy WALKS beside the truck. That way when you put the front end into a ditch, you don't roll the rig on top of him.
Don't say that it can't happen to you.
I know a lot of guys that adivise using old duece and a halfs, but you should also consider the size of your coverage area and the travel time from the station. We have a 2002 F-450 crew cab 4x4 with a 250 gal tank, booster reel, pump and have it plumbed so we can fill from a hydrant. We also mounted a chest type tool box over the back rear wheel for medical supplies (O2, trauma bag etc...) we use the rig for medical calls and grass fires. Also use it to get manpower from the station to structure fires. You can pump and roll, and have enough capacity to cover alot of ground. We have a portable foam unit that can be used to apply foam to stubborn spots, old tires that won't go out, fires that just seem to keep relighting themselves, large brush piles and the like. It is just a basic flat bed truck with a poly tank, nothing fancy. We put all the lights and sirens on it ourselves. You may check the government surplus auctions in your area for a great deal on a good solid truck.

This seems to be right up my alley, so I'll offer the best advice from years of experience at both the local small dept level, and the Fed level.

First, kudos to Brent on the recommendation to check with the local state and federal agencies. Your State Forestry Division, USFS, BLM, and NPS Fire Crews located in every state have several supply caches overloaded with extra equipment and vehicles that they may phase out due to budget restrictions, or other reasons. This goes from 2.5-5 ton trucks, Type 6 engines, support vehicles, and equipment (Mark III pumps, hose, etc...) All you need to do is contact one of these agencies and see what they have, and they'll ask you to send a formal written request. Train with these agencies as much as possible also.

As far as going out and purchasing vehicles, spec your forestry apparatus the same as you would any other vehicle with the following considerations to water-resources, mobility, accessibility, and the number of personnel the vehicle can seat. For example, the small department I am currently with covers 165 sq miles of rural, wooded mountainous terrain, and has three vehicles for an initial response to wildland fires:

(1) Type 6 Engine with a 300 gallon tank 300gpm pump equipped with a 250' booster reel, 200' of 2 1/2" supply line, and 300' of 1 1/2"single-jacket forestry hose, with assorted nozzles and equipment. Seats 3

(1) 5-ton military truck equipped with a 300 gallon portable steel tank, 2 Mark III pumps and ALOT of hose. seats 2

(1) Dodge Van with rakes, packs, saws, etc.. with seating of up to 10 personnel.

That's 15 personnel for an initial response. Not bad at all for a fast strike team with lots of equipment.

I've noticed that many departments around the country hate to trek through the woods in any terrain to fight a wildland fire, especially with the amount of equipment mentioned above. With the proper training and resources, it isn't impracticable at all to fight a wildland fire with this equipment. Series pumping with portable MARK III pumps similar to structural firefighting apparatus with 1"-1 1/2" forestry hose can make all the difference on a wildland fire. Friction loss and gpm flow isn't very different from structural firefighting. Sure you'll need to trek through the woods to get to your location, but having the right equipment at the right time makes a huge difference. I would recommend obtaining 1" hose also. Skid units and pickup trucks work great also, but I would check in with the local supply caches to see what they have first, before spending $10K plus on a truck.

Good luck!

Nick Miller
Valley VFD
Mason County WV

Crew Leader
Mountain State HotShots
Region 3
West Virginia Division of Forestry

Crew Member
USFS Strike Team 1
Clearwater National Forest
Orofino, Idaho

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