E-One brings back rear-engine fire truck

The new design offers more cab space, a tighter turn radius and better weight distribution


Porsche did it, DeLorean did it, the old Beatle did it and even the "unsafe at any speed" Corvair did it. Now, fire truck manufacturer E-One has jumped into the rear-engine mix at FDIC with its new pumper.

Like the Volkswagen Beatle, fire trucks had their share of rear-engine designs in the 1990s when the V-style engine was prominent. When the in-line engine began to dominate the market, they couldn't be made to fit in the back and the engine resumed its familiar place at the front of the rig.

Recently E-One offered a mid-engine, rear-pump configuration of its Hush series chassis.

Body sections behind the both rear wheels slide back about three feet for side access — an on-off toggle switch and controller on each side operate an electric motor that extends and retracts the panels even when the rear storage compartments are fully loaded. (Photo courtesy Rick Markley)
Body sections behind the both rear wheels slide back about three feet for side access — an on-off toggle switch and controller on each side operate an electric motor that extends and retracts the panels even when the rear storage compartments are fully loaded. (Photo courtesy Rick Markley)

Now, E-One is pushing the engine farther back with its latest rig that the company says is completely redesigned from previous models. "This is not an old product we dusted off," said Jay Johnson, vice president of sales and product management. "This is a ground up, brand new design."

Most noticeable in the new configuration is the added cab room for both the officer's seat and the rear seats. Replacing the bulky engine housing in the cab is more legroom and a large storage box — or the space can remain empty allowing firefighters to pass between front and rear compartments.

This added cab room was first available in the mid-engine Hush.

Also adding to the cab room is the relocation of the air conditioning system from the front to the rear of the rig. That and the moved engine, company officials say, keeps the cab cooler.

The design also freed up the frontend to house a hydraulic hose reel and hand-line reel with a shorter front bumper as the reels occupy space vacated by the engine.

Dan Peters, E-One president, said rear-engine rigs will sell for about 5 percent above comparable front-engine units.

Not having the engine in front gives the rig a 50-degree turning radius in both directions and a weight distribution of 60 percent on the back and 40 percent on the front. The weight distribution is unchanged by the amount of water in the tank.

The rigs' chief engineer Rafferty McDougall, says they paid special attention to maintenance points. Both sections behind the rear wheels slide back about three feet for side access — an on-off toggle switch and controller on each side operate an electric motor that extends and retracts the panels. The tracks are grease-free and the motor can push the sections even when the rear storage compartments are fully loaded.

Fluid dipsticks can be reached through small access doors with the compartments closed. The hose-bed floor also opens for full access to the engine and transmission.

McDougall also says the configuration allows them to run a separate drive shaft to the front wheels, making the rig capable of all-wheel drive for those who want such a feature.

A drawback to the design remains the hose bed height. It is something E-One engineers say they are stuck with. To work around it, additional rear ladder steps and a pull-out platform will put firefighters closer to the hose bed when pulling line or repacking hose.

The truck still has the two pre-connect trays mid-ship near the pump panel found on earlier models.

The units are available with either a 50- or 65-gallon fuel tank. Cab lengths come in three options: 58, 68 or 80 inches. 

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