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Concept firefighting rig demoed at Minn. fire school

The ultra-high pressure pump, tank and hose system fits in the back of a standard pick-up truck


FR1 Editor-in-Chief Rick Markley takes on the car-fire prop at Hennepin Technical College.

Photo/Story of us Films

In the interest of full disclosure, Editor-in-Chief Rick Markley is a volunteer with the International Fire Relief Mission. Ruff Fire Systems Solutions has pledged to donate a percentage of its sales to IFRM. He receives no money from either organization.

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Start-up company Ruff Fire Systems Solutions pitted its concept firefighting vehicle with a two-person crew against a fire school’s four-person crew in a traditional pumper in three live-burn demonstrations.

The Ruff vehicle uses an extended-cab pick-up truck to house a 100-gallon water tank, an ultra-high pressure pump and a 100 feet of small-diameter, high-pressure hose on a reel.

Ruff President Brian Abbott says his rig uses only one-tenth of the water, can knock fires down faster, requires fewer firefighters and costs one-tenth than that of most firefighting rigs; the cost can vary slightly depending on how it’s equipped. The trigger nozzle – think short carwash wand with three times the kick – can shoot water 80 feet and has a fog curtain setting to protect firefighters.

The demonstration was held at Hennepin Technical College’s fire training facility and involved an open burn of straw and pallets, a vehicle fire and a room-and-contents fire. Following the live burn demonstrations, the students took a turn at knocking down vehicle fires with UHP rig.

In all three scenarios, the Ruff crew was able to engage the pump, charge the line and get water on the fire faster than the four-person crew. The pump is preset at 1,100 psi and doesn’t require a firefighter to remain with it during operations; the pump can put out up to 1,500 psi.

Also participating in the demonstration was the International Fire Relief Mission. Abbott has pledged to donate a percentage of his company’s sales to IFRM, which collects donated firefighting equipment and delivers it to developing countries looking to build a safer and more effective fire service.

“Like our long-standing partnership with Lion, I’m eager to see Ruff succeed in this venture and become a major partner in our effort to equip and educate firefighters in parts of the world where firefighters are at great risk on every call,” said IFRM President Ron Gruening. “Their success will be our success.”

Abbott said his reason for donating to IFRM was simple – he likes helping others, especially firefighters.

“I joined the organization a couple of years ago, and when I met the team my first thought was, ‘this is going to be great,’” Abbott said. “I knew from then on that this is what I am going to put my time into and make a difference.”

Abbott said he designed the vehicle with developing countries in mind.

“They often don’t have much money for fire apparatus, they don’t have hydranted communities and they often don’t have many trained firefighters,” Abbott said. The pump skids can be mounted on trucks commonly used in those countries, so rigs won’t sit idle because a replacement part can’t be found, he said.

“In our travels, we’ve seen so many fire trucks donated from the U.S. abandoned because the vehicles were old and the firefighters in those countries did know how or couldn’t get the parts to fix them when they broke,” Gruening said.

And while designed for use in developing countries, it’s not hard to imagine rigs like this being favored in rural areas with low numbers of firefighters and without access to a municipal water supply. It’s also easy to see these vehicles playing a role as a quick attack rig and used for fires in hard-to-reach places, like parking garages.

Rick Markley is the former editor-in-chief of FireRescue1 and Fire Chief, a volunteer firefighter and fire investigator. He serves on the board of directors of and is actively involved with the International Fire Relief Mission, a humanitarian aid organization that delivers unused fire and EMS equipment to firefighters in developing countries. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s of fine arts. He has logged more than 15 years as an editor-in-chief and written numerous articles on firefighting. He can be reached at