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KME’s new wildland product group wins three major contracts

Published on 13 October 2009

A Type 6 Light Brush Unit model from KME Fire Apparatus. The company was recently awarded three new major contracts after refocusing its wildland product line
A Type 6 Light Brush Unit model for wildland use from KME Fire Apparatus
New contracts for KME following reach-out to wildland community

KME Fire Apparatus recently announced that it has made major efforts in reaching out to the wildland fire community. The company believes that such efforts are a good fit with its existing product lines and will only help in sustaining the growth that the company has experienced over the several years.

"KME has always made good wildland products - in fact, we were one of the first major manufacturers to introduce the interface pumper. However this renewed effort is meant to focus our attention and to really listen to the needs of that community to see how we might provide products that meet their unique and specific needs," said Phil Gerace, KME's Director of Sales and Marketing.

The first step was to hire an experienced hand in that market. In May, the company brought on Doug Kelley as the new Wildland Product Manager. Kelley has over ten years' experience with smaller manufacturers who specialized in providing equipment for some of the premier wildland agencies.

"The wildland firefighter can be a different customer to the typical structural firefighter, especially for those agencies that work exclusively in controlling wildfires. They need specialized equipment that can go where they need it to. They've had years of experience designing and developing equipment that meets their needs, and they need a manufacturer who will listen to them and work with them to get that equipment built," said Kelley.

The second step was to refocus the product line around the various segments of the market. "From skid units to interface pumpers to tactical tenders, the wildland market encompasses a lot of different types of vehicles," said Kelley. "One of my first jobs at KME was to look at everything we already knew how to build and to see how it might fit as we approached the market." Where changes were needed, changes were made.

Almost immediately, KME experienced success. In July, KME was awarded a contract with the ten Type 6 light brush units to Forest Service specifications. These were a new type of unit for KME. Each unit was mounted on a Ford 4x4 chassis with a fiber composite body. The fiber composite body is the body of choice for the Forest Service for their smaller units due to its lighter weight and corrosion resistance. The units each carry 300 gallons of water and 20 gallons of foam. The heart of the unit is a Darley diesel driven pump that can supply up to 150 gallons per minute at 150 psi.

The wildland firefighter needs a manufacturer who will listen to them and work with them to get the right equipment made

"These units can really move some water, especially for their size," said Kelley. The units are being delivered now and will serve in Arizona and New Mexico. Kelley added, "The initial response on these units has been quite good, and we look forward to having more opportunities for this type of design."

That award was followed by an award for six wildland crew carriers in August, and twelve Type 3 heavy engines in September. The crew carriers will each transport a specialized firefighting team of eight plus their gear around the country to various incidents. The Type 3 engines will each hold 600 gallons of water and 25 gallons of foam with a rear mount 250 gpm pumping system. They will be utilized on the West Coast, especially in California.

"I can't be more pleased with how things are going," said Gerace. "Our task now is to make sure that the customers are pleased with the equipment at delivery and beyond. We still have a lot of work to do, but I'm grateful to have these opportunities to showcase KME's capabilities. This represents a great first step in our new focus."

The next step? There are a number of projects on the drawing board, including a new type of interface pumper to be introduced early next year. "The wildland market has a lot of opportunities. It will take some time to get them all done, but KME is in it for the long haul," said Kelley.

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