Golden State’s modifications add value to vehicles

Customizing a fire truck is more common than many people might think.

Roughly half the emergency vehicles sold each month by Golden State Fire Apparatus have had modifications made at the company’s 35,000-square-foot shop in Sacramento. “There are lots of things we do here after the rig is delivered,” said Jason Dinkel, GSFA’s operations manager.

Among the most popular modifications are improvements to specific compartments, secure mounting of tools like axes or the Jaws of Life, and upgrades to radio systems.

Customization is the final part of a process that often takes up to 18 months. GSFA experts work closely with customers to learn how vehicles are expected to be used and what add-ons will make them even more efficient. They discuss what options make the most sense, Dinkel explained, and often travel together to the Pierce Manufacturing factory in Appleton, Wis., to meet with the company that builds the truck.

 SMEMPS Custom Rescue Vehicle

  • Members of the Southern Marin Fire Protection District made that trip earlier this year. They are part of a Joint Powers Authority known as Southern Marin Emergency Medical Paramedic System, or SMEMPS. It ordered a one-of-a-kind rescue vehicle to serve a chunk of rugged headlands and small towns with more than 60,000 people just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • The vehicle, known as Rescue 9, is a heavy-duty apparatus built on an Arrow XT chassis. It is built to safely maneuver in the narrow and challenging topography from sea level to the 2,500-foot peak of Mount Tamalpais.


Thoughts from the Captain

Capt. Mike Martinez of the fire district said Rescue 9 is “designed to access a variety of rural and residential areas and operate as the rescue company in all disciplines of service including ALS EMS, rope rescue, extrication, confined space, water rescue, dive rescue and fire ground operations.” When it comes on service in September, it will replace a worn and aging 2003 Pierce Dash rescue.

Martinez was part of a committee that assessed the agency’s needs for the vehicle. The members wanted to increase storage while minimizing the effects of an overall size increase. To achieve that, Martinez said, they customized Rescue 9 with the Oshkosh Tak-4 T3 rear independent suspension that provides mechanical rear steering for reduced steering radius.


Working with Golden State, he said, has been a rewarding process.

“Golden State Fire Apparatus was an advocate for our needs and accommodated our detailed interaction with Pierce Manufacturing,” Martinez said. “A pre-build meeting with a Pierce rescue division engineer allowed us an early conceptual design to begin the process, thus providing us a solid foundation to begin the specification process. “The finished product will be a welcomed asset to our fleet. It is certain to provide access to a wide variety of incident responses due to the tight turning radius and adequate engine performance, providing a crew capacity and equipment storage that will fit the needs of the organization for many years to come.”


Before Rescue 9 is put into service, it will have a 250-item pre-delivery inspection, or PDI, that every vehicle (modified or not) undergoes before its owner takes delivery, Dinkel said. “It’s stem to stern, completely comprehensive,” Dinkel explained. “It’s the Rolls-Royce inspection for fire trucks. We test everything.”

Golden State has three full-time employees devoted to customizing fire and rescue vehicles in whatever way their customers need to have happen.

If you have any questions about any aspect of your equipment’s performance, Golden State wants to help. Reach them at (916) 330-1638 or at

Husky Foam System: Checking fluids, filters important

Foam can be a powerful weapon fighting a fire. Whether Class A, Class B or emulsifier – and their very different applications – the Husky Foam System provides important suppression capabilities.

  • Class A foam is the most common type used by agencies to combat Class A fires. It attracts carbon by being absorbed into solid combustible materials and surfaces. In doing so, it reduces the surface tension of water, allowing it to penetrate more deeply into whatever is burning. As an added benefit, foam helps prevent rekindling of fires once put out.
  • Class B foam is used in cases of flammable spills such as a tanker truck or perhaps at a refinery. The biggest difference between the foam types is that Class B foam repels carbon. It’s like throwing a blanket over flames when escaping vapors or the spread of the fire is an issue.

Some fire agencies prefer emulsifier foam, which combines the characteristics of Class A and Class B. One caution for those departments that use it: Emulsifier foam needs to be flushed with plain water from the system after each use. Not flushing risks corrosion of the O-rings and seals. 

Flushing takes about 30 minutes and should be done at the fire scene.


Many apparatus made by Pierce Manufacturing have the ability to apply all foam systems. Regardless of which is used most often, there are some simple maintenance recommendations that operators should be aware of. Golden State Fire Apparatus, in tandem with our partners, strongly urges our customers to follow a regular preventive maintenance schedule for all their equipment.

Hydraulic Fluids and Filters

Weather and temperatures play in a role in selecting the right hydraulic fluid. The fluid used for cold weather foam application may not function properly at higher temperatures. Fluids should be regularly checked and changed, depending on the circumstances and season.


The hydraulic oil in the Husky System is filtered through a 10-micron cleanable filter located in the hydraulic block. Though this filter can be cleaned up to 10 times before it needs to be replaced, Husky strongly recommends that it be changed out when the fluid is to maximize performance and keep out dirt that can cause excessive wear in the system.


Whether cleaning or replacing the hydraulic filter, solvent cleaner and a rag should be used to wipe the area around the filter before it is removed.

Use solvent cleaner to clean the filter. Blow it dry with compressed air before putting it back in place. Do not clean the filter with a rag or anything that might leave any type of particles on it.

In each case, the baskets are easy to clean. Remove the lug nuts, check the strainers with water and then reinstall. Replace any baskets or strainers that have obvious damage.

More information about the Husky Foam System and its maintenance can be found at:

Debris can cause damage to your fire suppression system and prevent it from operating properly. Golden State Fire Apparatus carries an extensive inventory of parts for your emergency vehicle. We know exactly what your apparatus needs to keep it in tip-top shape.

Our expert staff of Emergency Vehicle Technicians works out of our 35,000-square-foot maintenance facility in Sacramento. We continually invest in tools and equipment so that your emergency vehicle receives the utmost care, while reducing the man-hours required to get the job done right.


If you have any questions about any aspect of your equipment’s performance, we’re here to help. You can reach us at (916) 330-1638 or at