Springfield Township, Delaware County, PA

1976 Dodge Tactical Unit

Manufacturer: Dodge / Pierce Manufacturing, Appleton, WI

Year of Manufacturer: 1975 – Chassis, 1976 – Pierce Body Work


Years of Service: 10 years (1976-1985)

Sold to: Lenni Heights Fire Company (see below)

Pump Size: 250 GPM Waterous PTO

Water Tank Size: 250 Gallons

Generator: 2500 Watt Onan

Ladders: 24 Extension Ladder, 14 Ground / Roof Ladder

This was the only non-maroon piece of fire apparatus in Springfield Fire Company. The 1976 Tactical Unit was designed as a quick response vehicle, modeled after the Tactical Unit on the popular television show of that day, Emergency. This piece of apparatus was designed to handle the smaller fires: brush, trash, vehicles and field fires, although the vehicle happened to be the first piece on the scene of some major fires during its years of service. This truck replaced the 1961 Pirsch pumper in the run schedule.

Set-up as a two person quick response unit, the vehicle was retrofitted with a larger rear-step a year or two after being purchased to allow the truck to have a crew of four firefighters. Springfield Fire Company had firefighters riding the rear step of the apparatus until 1986, when an accident involving this truck made the company change it riding procedures for firefighters.

The truck was painted chrome yellow with the top of the cab being painted white. The reason for the change in color was for safety and visibility of the apparatus. The company quickly went back to the traditional maroon color after this piece of equipment. The color of the apparatus does not always effect safety, but there are many other safety devices that can be added to help with visibility.

The truck was built on a Dodge Chassis with a 440 Magnum Gasoline Engine and 4 Speed Manual Transmission. The truck was also equipped with 4-Wheel Drive to help when fighting fires in the many fields of Springfield in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. The truck also had a Front-Mounted Winch rated at 8,000 lb.

On December 10, 1985 the years of service that this truck gave to Springfield Fire Company came to an end. While responding to a trash fire in the Beatty Road area of Springfield Township, the Tactical Unit was broadsided was proceeding through the intersection of West Sproul Road and West Woodland Avenue. The Driver of the apparatus, James Vlassapoulos and the Officer Mark Casey were not injured. The lone firefighter on the rear-step, Michael Nazzario, received only minor injuries. He was wearing the safety belt attached to the rear of truck that helped save him from serious injuries.

The apparatus sustained heavy damage from this accident and was replaced with the purchase of the 1989 Tactical Unit. The 1971 Pirsch Pumper ran in place of the 1976 Tactical Unit until the new unit was placed into service. The Pierce body on the Tactical Unit was purchased by the Lenni Heights Fire Company which they used to build a unit for their company’s needs.