There are standard and commercial solutions that can sometimes effectively fit the general requirements of a fire department. Then, there are custom build solutions, where a fire apparatus is specifically designed and equipped to meet individual demands and push the limits and capabilities of an apparatus to a whole new level.
You can go a long way with a custom design, but how much can even the best custom-designers pack into one compact, custom mini-pumper style fire apparatus? After all, like it has been said many times before, you can’t have everything. If you want fast and quick, you’re going to have to leave something behind. Well, the Hudsonville Fire Department’s HME Rodent might possibly be one of those rare exceptions where you can have just about everything you wanted - in one small, quick and responsive mini-pumper fire apparatus.
When Hudsonville Fire Department’s Chief Dick Mohr approached HME to design and build a new apparatus for the Hudsonville Fire Department, he approached HME, sat down with their engineers and explained his needs for the new apparatus.
“We were looking for a regular mini-pumper for emergency, rescue, dumpster fires and car fire incidents, but after HME looked at what we wanted, they designed something that was completely new – even for them.”
For the fast and demanding challenges of the urban applications Mohr had planned for his new mini-pumper, HME engineers considered a new approach – an even shorter, lighter mini-pumper that would offer a number of advantages in urban applications, from improved responsiveness, speed and maneuverability - as well as offering improved fuel consumption.
“We took HME’s chassis and shortened it up and created the HME Mini-Pumper and Rescue truck,” said Mohr. “We like its maneuverability – it gets around quick!”
But quick handling was only the beginning of this one-of-a-kind apparatus. Being able to respond fast was one thing, being able to arrive with enough equipment, crew and suppression assets to be effective was quite another - and a critical part of this particular custom build. While the new mini-pumper, eventually named the HME Rodent, was shorter, and more compact, there was little-to-practically no compromise in its storage or fire fighting capability.
“It has an awful lot of space,” says Mohr of his HME Rodent. “There are cross-lays for storage and water rescue equipment on top, plus a transverse shelf that is located over the rear wheels. You lift the cabinet doors and there’s a shelf, with access on either side, that’s open all the way through. If you are on a highway medium you can pull equipment through in either direction.”
For a closer look at some of the many innovative storage solutions, that were integrated into the Hudsonville HME Rodent, take a moment to review the HME Storage Solution video now showing on the HME YouTube Channel.
In addition to quick handling and generous storage capability, Mohr’s HME Rodent also packs a punch in suppression capability with a 450-gallon water tank and a 30-gallon foam tank.
While Chief Mohr concedes that this unique fire apparatus may not be the first, or even second apparatus called to a structure fire, it’s the first choice for the majority of the nearly 500 calls his department receives during an average year.
“That truck has gotten some miles on it,” Mohr says. “We use it more than any of our other trucks. We like the maneuverability, and it has a good size engine that gets around fast!”
With a name like the HME Rodent, it ought to be quick.