WFC News

Posted: Jul 15, 2013

An Inside Job

In our line of work we see and experience events that can be labeled horrific and traumatizing.  Sometime we go on these calls three times in a shift, and other times the events are spread out over weeks or months.  But one thing remains, and that is the memory and experiences that we were exposed to on these scenes.  These events stay with most of us for a very long time.  And sometimes these memories come back and remind us of the hard issues we have seen and are actively trying to suppress.

Most of us have developed a “coping mechanism” to be able to deal with these events at the immediate moment they are happening.  After the events have past and the incident is over, we suppress or compartmentalize the emotions that we experienced.  And we tell ourselves, and sometimes we tell others, that this is a necessary trait in order to maintain an ongoing presence in this profession.  But what happens when you can’t compartmentalize these events or the box just becomes too full to hold any more memories?  What happens when your body and mind tell you that you are human and that you are impacted by trauma and horror?  Where do you turn?

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Posted: Jul 8, 2013

Special Delivery: Wildland Urban Interface Type III Unit Handles Wildland and Structure Fire Calls

Alan M. Petrillo

The Taos (NM) Fire Department's chief and firefighters had been considering purchasing a wildland urban interface (WUI) Type III apparatus for several years-something that could function not only as a wildland engine but also as a structural pumper if needed once it got out in the boondocks, well away from a water source.

The Taos Fire Department chose Pierce Manufacturing to build this Type III WUI vehicle that can do double duty as a wildland fire apparatus and a structural firefighting rig
(1) The Taos (NM) Fire Department chose Pierce Manufacturing
to build this Type III WUI vehicle that can do double duty as a
wildland fire apparatus and a structural firefighting rig. [Photos
courtesy of the Taos (NM) Fire Department.]

Chief Jim Fambro says his department's members had seen a number of Pierce Manufacturing's Hawk Type III WUI units in neighboring areas and liked not only the style but also the stability of the vehicles. "We had talked for years about getting a Type III WUI to use in protecting our outlying areas against large brush fires but also to use as a quick-attack vehicle for structure fires where it would be miles away from assistance and on its own," Fambro says. "We've been in a drought situation since 1996, so the wildfires around here have been pretty significant."

Extinguishing Capabilities

The Taos (NM) Fire Department covers the city of Taos and the central part of Taos County for fire and rescue responses. The district, which staffs four stations, has fire hydrants in only 40 percent of its response area.

The WUI unit for the Taos (NM) Fire Department features a compact pump panel.
(2) The WUI unit for the Taos (NM) Fire
Department features a compact pump panel.

Fambro notes that the department also wanted a compressed air foam system (CAFS) on the new vehicle. "Putting a 500-gallon water tank on the vehicle and using CAFS means we can stretch out those 500 gallons as far as possible," he says. "We go to structure fires 10 to 15 miles outside of town, and those structure fires can easily turn into wildland fires very quickly."

Taos firefighters decided on a Pierce Hawk Type III WUI unit with a Darley dual-control 1,000-gpm PTO (power takeoff) pump, a 500-gallon Poly water tank, a III0-gallon Class A foam cell powered by a FoamPro 1600 foam system, and a Hercules 140-cubic-feet-per-minute (cfm) hydraulic-drive CAFS. "We put an Elkhart Brass Sidewinder 500-gpm monitor on the front bumper and added a Warn 15,000-pound fixed front winch up there," Fambro points out. "The dual foam capability on the Pierce Type III gives us a lot of freedom to approach fires in different ways."

The vehicle carries a Hercules CAFS, shown in the housing above the pump panel, that is hydraulically driven and generates 140 cubic feet per minute.
(3) The vehicle carries a Hercules CAFS, shown in the housing
above the pump panel, that is hydraulically driven and generates
140 cubic feet per minute.

The Rig


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Posted: Jul 8, 2013

Five Questions for Eric Combs, Marketing Director, Elkhart Brass

Chris Mc Loone

CM: How has the Cobra EXM, introduced at FDIC 2013, been received by the fire service so far?

EC: It's been a really great launch for us. We've had a lot of excitement about the new monitor. Typically with a monitor, our ramp up of sales is somewhat delayed because of the buy cycle with the apparatus. But on this product, we've found a lot of early sales. We did some field tests prior to launching it, and some of those folks are now looking to retrofit their department with the new Cobra on all their apparatus. So, it's been a great launch for us. We're really excited about it.

CM: One of the other things you launched at the show, via a partnership with KME, is the Whipline. How important are relationships with various OEMs to Elkhart?

EC: This is critical. The fire apparatus manufacturers have been tasked and challenged to come up with products to meet the needs of the industry. It gives an opportunity for companies like ours to help supply them with new innovative technologies and new product types. They have a better understanding from their viewpoint of what some of their customers want. We have a good understanding of some of the technology and fluid delivery and control. So whenever we can partner, the two of us working together can usually generate a better product than if we were independently trying to tackle something. So, it's critical to our strategy. We have several examples and we have several products in the pipeline. The SafeLink was another one that was shown at FDIC with a couple different manufacturers, which helped to put their fingerprint on what their customers want.

CM: What has helped keep Elkhart Brass out at the forefront of product development for the fire service?

EC: I'd have to attribute that largely to the way we've structured our business. New product development is one of our key areas. We've internally developed an organization we call "Elkhart Brass Labs" that really starts with a marketing department. We have a large marketing department. Just in the last year we've more heavily invested in that. And in our organization, the marketing department is charged with really getting out into the industry, interacting with the users, and interacting with the apparatus manufacturers to really hone in on what problems the fire service is faced with. What are the opportunities for us to bring some innovation? So it starts with that customer focus. We want to understand the need. And once we get to a point where we've identified an opportunity, we've built a machine here at the plant with engineering, process control, tools that allow us to more quickly and efficiently develop these products, and our large R&D group. So it's really building a business to rapidly bring these products to market.

CM: What do you think is the biggest issue facing the fire service today, and how would you suggest the fire service address it?

EC: The common theme that I hear is the budget constraints. The fire service is being asked to protect, in many cases, larger potential risks and higher potential fire loads and to do that at usually a reduced budget from what was enjoyed a few years ago. So that appears to be at the forefront of folks' minds. And, I believe the answer to this is largely technology that drives efficiency. How can the fire service use technology, maybe even technology that's already well-established in other industries, and adopt that to allow for more efficient service to the public?

CM: What keeps you up at night?

EC: I think what's next? How do you get to the next level? I could look at that as an industry. What's going to allow this industry to make the next step? And, the value we offer to the public. What is Elkhart Brass as a company doing to make that next step? How do we get to the next level? How does the mark

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Posted: Jul 8, 2013

Inside United Plastic Fabricating, Inc.

Bill Adams

When I was conducting research for "Apparatus Purchasing: Booster Tanks" (Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment, July 2012), Bill Bruns, vice president of sales and marketing for United Plastic Fabricating, Inc. (UPF), provided insight into the inner workings of that polypropylene tank manufacturer. It was an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the concept, beginning, growth, corporate policy, and people of UPF and acted as the impetus for this article. The company's Web site has information on its facilities complete with photos of the buildings, smiling employees, product specifications, and sales information. This article just gives you an insight into "what makes them tick."

Sales and Marketing Manager Andrew Lingel points to UPF's compression tester-a hydraulic crusher used to test weld strength
(1) Sales and Marketing Manager Andrew Lingel
points to UPF's compression tester-a hydraulic
crusher used to test weld strength. (Photos by author
unless otherwise noted.)

I paid UPF's North Andover, Massachusetts, location an afterhours visit. This location serves as the company's corporate headquarters, is the location of the design and engineering group, and is the smallest of three manufacturing facilities. Interviewed were Joe Lingel, president and chief executive officer; Bill Bruns, vice president of marketing and sales; Mike Ashley, vice president of engineering; Louis Trapasso, director of quality and materials; and Andrew Lingel, sales and marketing manager. The group is a relaxed, down-to-earth, but extremely professional organization where each player is passionate about the work and committed to UPF's printed quality policy: "Continually Improve Everything We Do. Give Our Customers Exactly What They Expect." In 27 years, UPF has gone from an inspiration-seeking a solution to solve a problem-to building two-thirds of the booster tanks for the North American fire service.

NFPA 1901 and Tank Design

Except for the visible fill towers, most line firefighters give little thought to booster tanks and less thought to the behind-the-scenes complexities involved in their design and fabrication. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus, Chapter 18 Water Tanks is mainly directed at tank construction and the manufacturers. Purchasers' concerns usually rest with capacity, the type of tank level indicator desired, whether there's a direct tank fill line, and occasionally flow rates. Purchasers may not realize the impact those and other purchasing "choices" may have on a tank's design and engineering.

Often, fire departments opt for multiple rear discharges and suctions that can be either sleeved or notched into a tank, integral foam cells, and slide-in storage for ladders or suction sleeves. Or, they specify particular hosebed heights that mandate odd-shaped tanks. Those choices can impact some of a tank's design criteria such as whether a containment or dynamic method of baffling is used; the spacing, size, and location of longitudinal and transverse baffles; as well as size and location of piping connections, diffusers, vents, and overflows.

Quality Assurance documentation follows each product regardless of size or complexity, as shown with each of these poly tool boxes.
(2) Quality Assurance documentation follows
each product regardless of size or complexi Read more
Posted: Jul 8, 2013

Air Assets Valuable Tools for Battling Wildland Fires

Alan M. Petrillo

The threat of wildland fires continues to loom not only in the western and southwestern states but also in other parts of the country. And in many wildland fire situations in those areas, firefighters need the help of air assets to get a handle on the conflagration. The types of aircraft and helicopters used by fire bosses to control wildfires from the air vary with the area, the terrain, and the air assets available to be deployed.

According to United States Forest Service (USFS) data, there are one billion burnable acres in the United States, with approximately 100 million of those acres classified as "highly flammable." A quarter of a million communities and 80 million people are under threat from wildland fires, the USFS data shows.

Tom Harbour, USFS director of fire and aviation management, says that in 2012, the USFS deployed 20,000 firefighters and 2,000 engines to fight wildfires around the country, along with flying 300 helicopters and 25 air tankers.

Air Tankers

Harbour notes that the USFS's aviation assets include large Type I and Type II air tankers; smaller Type III and Type IV air tankers, helicopters, and scooper aircraft that are also used for aerial supervision; smoke jumping platforms such as the DC-3, C-23A, Twin Otter, Easa, and Dornier aircraft; Cessna Citation and King Air fixed-wing aircraft used for infrared mapping; aviation units from local and state jurisdictions; and contract fleet air tankers and helicopters.

Fixed-wing aircraft used in recent years by the USFS to fight wildfires include very large air tankers (VLATs) like the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 that can carry 12,000 gallons of water or retardant and the Boeing 747 with a tank capacity of 24,000 gallons, Harbour points out.

Type I air tankers include the Martin Mars (7,200-gallon tank), the Lockheed P-3 Orion (3,000-gallon tank), the Lockheed P-2 Neptune (2,700-gallon tank), the Douglas DC-6 (2,800-gallon tank), and the Douglas DC-7 (3,000-gallon tank).

The CL-215/Bombardier 415 Superscooper is a Type II air tanker that can carry 1,600 gallons of water, while the Type III Grumman S-2T carries 1,200 gallons and the Fire Boss 800 gallons.

The Fire Boss has an 800-gallon tank and can scoop up nearly a tankful of water without landing in a 15-second pass over a body of water
(1) The Fire Boss has an 800-gallon tank and can scoop up nearly a
tankful of water without landing in a 15-second pass over a body of
water. (Photo courtesy of Fire Boss.)

Scoop and Drop

Jamie Sargent, a technical consultant with Wipaire Inc., which owns Fire Boss LLC, says there currently are 51 Fire Boss aircraft operating around the world, with 42 units in Europe, 13 in Canada, four in the United States, two in Australia, and one in Argentina. "The challenge in the U.S. market is that it has been geared toward ex-military aircraft converted for firefighting," Sargent says. "But, agencies are now moving toward next generation platforms and focusing on land-based aircraft that can haul retardant and water."

Sargent notes the Fire Boss serves as an initial attack resource for wildland fire managers, and because it is a turbine powered aircraft, there is no engine warmup time required, meaning the aircraft can be on its way to fight a fire very quickly.

"The Fire Boss has an 800-gallon tank onboard and can scoop between 600 and 650 gallons at a time, which takes about 15 seconds," Sargent says, "because you never can scoop a full tank capacity. With between an hour and a half and two and a half hours of fuel

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