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Posted: Jul 8, 2013

Seasonal Changes

By Richard Marinucci

Often little things that occur during an incident determine the overall effectiveness and success of the operation. Departments should pursue continual improvement in and must look at every aspect of their operations to see where incremental improvements can be made. One area to consider is the differences presented with changing seasons. Although not necessarily a major consideration, there are some things that change as summer temperatures increase. This would be true regardless of whether you are in the desert areas of Arizona, where there is little transition from winter to spring, or in the northern part of the country where there are more defined seasons.

Climate changes affect personnel, apparatus, and equipment. They also can present different emergencies to which departments respond. Therefore, it is prudent to review operations as the seasons change just to make sure everyone is on the same page. Complacency must not creep into the organization or its members because this will impact the quality of service provided and could affect firefighter health and safety. This is not a major challenge to an organization but one that warrants specific review to pay attention to the little details that determine the level of service provided.

Apparatus and Equipment

Increasing temperatures may adversely affect apparatus and equipment if crews do not follow manufacturer-recommended practices. It is a good idea to review owner's manuals and perform routine maintenance as seasons change. Review operating apparatus and equipment relative to summer conditions, especially equipment only used during very warm months. It may also be appropriate to check on items that do not need to be carried on the vehicle. For example, ice melting chemicals and salt no longer need to be on vehicles during the summer in cold-weather states and can be stored until the next season change.

Although not all apparatus has air conditioning, it has become almost a necessity in many organizations. As an example, departments providing EMS transport probably require this feature for the benefit of those receiving treatment. It also can provide an area for firefighter rehabilitation when operating in high temperatures. You need to make sure it is working properly long before it is needed.

In many fire departments, the threat of relatively small grass and brush fires exists during warmer months. As such, equipment for these incidents is not part of the standard furnishings year round. If this is the case, the equipment needs to be checked to make sure it is in the proper working condition and placed on apparatus in locations for the best access. A review of all equipment is necessary, even if brief in nature. Simple steps make sure all the bases are covered and personnel are prepared to do the best possible job.

Personnel Performance

Summer conditions can affect personnel performance as well as health and well-being. Excessive heat and humidity will warrant shorter work periods and appropriate rehabilitation time. This is not earth-shattering news, but a reminder is appropriate on occasion. Also remind personnel about the signs and symptoms of various heat-related illnesses. Firefighters not only need to consider their own situations but also should look out for the rest of their crew.

One item not often considered is sunscreen. If members are working in the direct sun, especially midday with exposed skin, you should do whatever you can to offer protection. This can be by covering up, sunscreen, or short stints of exposure. Again, this is not a big issue in the overall scheme of things but can be helpful when protecting personnel. Finally, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! This is important throughout the day, not just during an incident. All of this also applies to training that takes place outside. There are examples of firefighters suffering adverse

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Posted: Jul 8, 2013

Wildland Apparatus Run Gamut from Wildfire Units to Urban Interface Rigs

Alan M. Petrillo

Developments in wildland urban interface (WUI) apparatus have taken a page from businesses that use customer satisfaction surveys and feedback, incorporating changes and modifications into rigs that firefighters and fire departments see as necessary to make their jobs easier and safer on the front lines of wildland fires.

Structure and Wildland Duties

Chad Trinkner, marketing manager of pumpers, fire suppression and aerial products for Pierce Manufacturing Inc., says that Pierce has seen an emphasis on maneuverable wildland units that can double as urban interface vehicles to fight structure fires or protect exposures when necessary. "Pierce makes Type I, II, and III urban interface and wildland vehicles on custom or commercial chassis," Trinkner says, "often customizing a vehicle to a very specific body design as we do for the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM)."

Trinkner notes that the BLM vehicle, called a Model 62, is a spinoff of the United States Forest Service's (USFS) Model 34 Type III wildland apparatus with its own body design that can hold a spare tire, a different pump capacity, and space "so the vehicle is prepped for everything, and the crew will be able to live out of the apparatus."

A Type III wildland apparatus typically carries 500 gallons of water, a pump with a minimum capacity of 150 gallons per minute (gpm), and 1,000 feet of 1½-inch and 500 feet of one-inch hose. "We've built Type III wildland vehicles with water tanks of up to 600 gallons and Type IV rigs with 750 gallons of water," Trinkner notes. Type IV apparatus have less hose and pump capacity requirements than Type IIIs.

Doug Kelley, wildland product manager for KME, says recent developments in pumps and in remote turrets have improved the performance of wildland vehicles. "The big thing that KME focuses on is pump-and-roll capability, where we have developed pumping systems with dual impellers and single manifolds that allow for low- and high-pressure systems," Kelley says. "We can get 100 gpm at 150 pounds per square inch (psi) at engine idle or, with a four-wheel-drive vehicle, can crawl along in low range and expend water and class A foam on a fire."

national wildfire coordinating group engine typing

KME delivers that pump-and-roll capability chiefly through its Ridgerunner apparatus, designed as a WUI vehicle that can handle both structure and wildland fires. Ridgerunner is available on an International 7400 chassis and carries a Hale 1,500-gpm pump that provides 100 gpm at 150 psi for pump-and-roll situations, an 800-gallon Poly tank, a 20-gallon foam cell, and a FoamPro 2001 direct-injection foam system.

Scott Oyen, vice president of sales for Rosenbauer, says that urban interface pumpers meeting all the criteria as Type I units also can make effective wildland apparatus. "Those that meet the Type I, II, and III classifications might be able to get Insurance Services Organization (ISO) rating points for the fire department," he points out. "That's where our Timberwolf fits in, built on an International 4400 four-door 4x4 chassis with a 500-gpm Darley JSP fire pump, 500 gallons of water, extended front bumper with crosslay, remote bumper turret, high-pressure booster reels in the cab steps, and rescue tool storage.

Pierce Manufacturing built this Type III wildland vehicle for the Alameda County Fire Department on an International Navistar chassis with a 500-gpm Darley pump and a 500-gallon water tank.
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Posted: Jul 8, 2013

Technology - Good and Bad

By Chris Mc Loone

In late May, a Washington, D.C., ambulance shut down while transporting a gunshot victim. The ambulance operator was able to safely pull the vehicle over to the side of the road to await another unit to finish the transport to the hospital. Immediately prior to the engine failing, the operator noted a light had illuminated that indicated engine failure was imminent. News reports out of Washington, D.C., that week reported it was the emissions control system that caused the problem.

I wasn't convinced it was an emissions control problem. Although logically it made sense based on the vehicle's age, it just didn't figure to be the cause-unless regens weren't being performed. Unless there was something really wrong with system, the driver would have been signaled multiple times before the engine actually derated-IF everything was working properly. So I was disappointed that this looked like a case of not performing aftertreatment regeneration when prompted or that the emissions system was being made a scapegoat here.

A week after the incident, news arrived that the culprit was actually a faulty fuel cooler screen that caused the engine to shut down.

These 2010 engines have caused a good deal of consternation for fire departments all over the country. The Washington, D.C., Fire Department did the right thing and conducted an investigation into the incident and discovered the actual cause of the engine shutdown. However, remember to not let our general displeasure with EPA-compliant engines cause you to rush to judgment when an apparatus or ambulance experiences engine trouble. And, whatever you do, don't delay your regens unnecessarily. Legitimate problems with emissions control systems may occur, but do everything you can to ensure your operations are not the cause of the problems.

Technology and the Fire Service

The use of new technology within the fire service has come up in a number of my conversations recently. Topics ranged from how to use it, the cost of it, why the fire service embraces it or doesn't embrace it, and so on. There is any number of answers to any of those questions. Any time a product employing a new technology allows us to complete our tasks more safely and efficiently, it's a no-brainer, to me, to put it to use.

A case in point is a recent training night at which several line officers and firefighters got a chance to use a new hydraulic tool power unit. We all got a chance to use the new product, inspect it, and learn about it. The technology in this case was using a lithium ion battery as the unit's power source. The instructor began the conversation by stating that there is a great deal of fear out there regarding battery-operated tools. Many departments know firsthand how the NiCad batteries we had charging in our trucks connected to shorelines had dismally short life-spans. Lithium ion batteries, however, are a whole different game. Questions ranged from whether the tool would work slower as the battery strength diminished, what the overall lifetime of the battery is, how long we can work off the battery before the power unit shuts down, how many stages the pump has, and so on.

In one hour and seven minutes, we performed three door removals, one B-post removal, and a vertical displacement and removed the trunk lid for good measure. Our instructor also reviewed some new tactics for rescue scenarios.

Using a power unit with this technology to me is a no-brainer. It's quiet. There is no exhaust-which is good for the rescuer and the rescued. The truck's generator is not running, so it's not pumping out diesel exhaust into the air around the rescuers. No generator means no cord reels to trip over-health and safety are covered right off the bat. Powering up the unit is with the touch of a button. The rescuer literally picks it up with a tool and hydraulic hose and goes. There is no waiting for the gener

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Posted: Jul 8, 2013

Building Apparatus that Won't Break the Budget

Chris Mc Loone

We have all heard about the trends in apparatus purchasing these days. There's a definite move toward multipurpose apparatus that incorporate many tactical functions into one apparatus to maximize what the crew riding the rig can do once it arrives at an incident. So, we know how budget cuts have affected personnel and purchasing strategies and schedules. But, ultimately when a purchasing committee is getting together to spec out a new truck, the challenge is getting that new truck to fit into the budget the committee is working with. There are many ways to accomplish this, and they're easier than you might think. They might cause a group to change the way it approaches the new purchase, but they are all viable ways to build an effective fire apparatus in as affordable a manner as possible.

Standard Vehicles

Scott Edens, president and CEO of Fouts Bros, espouses accepting standard specifications. He says that if a department can purchase a standard apparatus, the customization cost, which includes engineering and production costs, is dramatically reduced. "Supply agreements with the industry's best component suppliers provide Fouts Bros with discounted pricing for all standard specifications," he adds. "Fouts Bros incorporates brand-specific components in our standard specifications, which allows us to offer departments a best-value proposition for the standard trucks."

Ed Smith, director emergency vehicles group, VT Hackney, Inc., states that the greatest savings a purchaser can experience is to allow the manufacturer to create a product to meet specific requirements based on an existing standard model. "Most manufacturers have numerous models that would fit that classification based on body size, horsepower requirements, maneuverability, water capacity, and so on," he says. "Historically, standardization has been the most difficult option to sell in this industry."

Standardization is a hard sell, according to Smith, because many departments hope to build apparatus that distinguishes them from their peers. "The result is incredible engineering hours and disruption of a production facility-hours that must be passed to the purchaser," he says. "These and other factors result in significant cost increases to provide an apparatus that just as likely could have been served by a preengineered product."

A "program" vehicle is another type of standard vehicle departments can consider to keep the overall cost of the purchase down. "The most cost-effective apparatus we offer is our line of preengineered trucks, commonly known as program trucks," says Harold Boer, president of Rosenbauer America. "We negotiate with our suppliers for better pricing on larger quantities of components."

Phil Gerace, director of sales and marketing, KME, adds, "We have program configurations that offer savings by using standardized components but still offer the flexibility to customize dozens of items like plumbing, lighting, and compartmentation. Our service department offers a number of different levels of refurbishment, and many new trucks use components transferred from the current in-service vehicle."

"Just because it's a program vehicle doesn't mean that we skipped or cut corners to create a truck for a budget-conscious department," cautions Bryan Smeal, regional sales director for Smeal Fire Apparatus. "We did the work in advance to make it simple for our employees to manufacture these products because the bodies, the accessories, and so on, are all preengineered to go together. You're not losing the quality you have come to expect from the builder you choose."

Smeal adds, "If you're looking to purchase something and get a good bang for your buck, program vehicles are a very good option. Most entry-level vehicles are preen

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Posted: Jun 27, 2013

Boating Accident Reporting

Washington State Parks & Recreation needs your help!  The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission administers the state's Recreational Boating Safety Program.  State Parks works with local government, both county and city, to ensure that all boating accidents are reported as required by RCW 79A.60.200, and described in WAC 352-70.  

The U.S. Coast Guard requires that all recreational boating accidents be reported within 30 days of the occurrence.  This is a State requirement as well.  With your help, we can close the gap and meet this requirement...

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