March 10, 2021
BY BEAU BECRAFT
Responding to any call, the brave individuals of the Langhorne-Middletown Fire Company must act swiftly in high stakes situations.
Doing so requires extensive training and knowledge, excellent communication, and teamwork. Having the proper tools at their disposal plays an equally pivotal role in this line of work. And when it comes to keeping those tools organized in a practical, efficient, and safe manner, they rely on Knapheide.
Langhorne-Middletown Fire Company was established in 1829, making it one of the oldest fire companies in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The company’s main station, Station 21, is located in Langhorne Borough while Station 22 is located in northern Middletown Township. Consisting of approximately 30 volunteer members, LMFC serves and protects thirteen square miles and 27,000 residents of Langhorne Borough, Langhorne Manor Borough, and over 50% of Middletown Township in Bucks County. Assisting the firefighters is a fleet of various vehicles, including two engines, a tower truck, a field truck, two Chief vehicles, a hazmat trailer, a decontamination trailer, and two utility trucks.
“Utility 21, our utility truck, was designed for various functions,” says Kurt Geiselhart, a firefighter who also served as the company’s president until his term expired in January 2021. “It serves as a personnel carrier to transport firefighters to the scene of an emergency. It is often used for EMS calls where we are dispatched to assist for emergencies like a person in cardiac arrest.”
“The truck primarily serves as a ‘people mover,’ helping us transport additional crew members to supplement crews from the engines and tower truck,” adds Tom Brown, who serves as Langhorne’s equipment officer, responsible for the updating, maintenance, and repairs of all the company’s owned equipment. “It is also used for off-road or hard-to-get-to rescues and, sometimes, brush fires.”
Until recently, the company was underwhelmed with the performance and practicality of their service truck bodies, citing issues including lack of storage capacity and the inability to properly cover and secure cargo. In an attempt to remedy these issues, the trucks underwent various custom fabrications that merely served as band-aids to their problems.
Seeking a product tailored to their needs was the highest priority for LMFC
This led the fire company to Knapheide, who was ready and willing to help them create a truck body to meet and withstand the demands of their line of work.
“When the truck committee looked at various body manufacturers, we found that we liked the features that Knapheide offered along with being able to specify a custom body that met our needs,” says Geiselhart. “Knapheide provided a good balance between cost and customization.”
“Knapheide was able to give us the look and quality we wanted with the most reasonable price for a custom body,” says Brown.
LMFC collaborated with Knapheide and local distributor Levan Machine and Truck Equipment in nearby Fleetwood, Pennsylvania to address the shortcomings of their previous utility body in an effort to create their ideal upfit.
“The goal for this utility truck was to make it versatile so that it effectively handled a variety of situations,” Geiselhart says. “We needed a truck that was comfortable and safe for carrying members to an emergency call. We also need to be able to carry a wide complement of equipment for our firefighters to use at the different types of calls that we respond to. The key to meeting our goal was selecting a custom high-side Knapheide body.”
Collaboration for true customization
One of the most important features sought by LMFC was the ability to take the unit off-road if needed, which would be beneficial in transporting injured individuals back to a waiting ambulance. Also essential was a sufficient amount of space to place patients in a Stokes basket (a device used to immobilize and transport injured people across rough terrain) and enough towing capacity to pull the company’s hazardous materials trailer.
“The body designed in conjunction with Levan is a 9’ body with 14” compartments and a height of 57”. The upper compartments have flip top doors for storage of long items that are not needed on a regular basis,” says Geiselhart. “Having a tall body custom fabricated produced smooth side walls in the bed area. This made mounting a sliding wall for our self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and spare cylinders much easier to install. The other advantage to this style body was being able to install a Pace Edwards roll top.”
The taller body allows for one side of the bed to store the Stokes basket while the adjacent side features a sliding tray for the storage of tools. Additional storage areas house the company’s SCBA gear and spare cylinders on a sliding wall located in the bed area.
“This allows our firefighters easy access to their SCBA,” Geiselhart explains. “Plus it resulted in additional storage of tools and equipment in the body compartments.”
Like many other Knapheide upfits, the bumper (a 14” custom component) also serves as a beneficial aspect of the custom body, providing a wide step area for people that need to climb up into and access equipment or accessories housed in the bed.
Finally, addressing the company’s previous inability to properly cover and secure cargo in the bed area, Geiselhart says the Knapheide locking tailgate in conjunction with the installation of a Pace Edwards roll cover “makes for a very secure and attractive vehicle.”
That our products are assisting in keeping Americans safe is a point of immeasurable pride for Knapheide. We thank Langhorne-Middletown Fire Company for choosing Knapheide to protect and serve their community.