WFC News

Posted: May 1, 2013

Getting Water to the Fire

By Richard Marinucci

Since the use of a bucket brigade, the objective of fire departments, in most cases, has been to get enough water on the fire to extinguish it. Because of advances in technology, the bucket brigade is no longer used. There are other methods that have been improved and tweaked in equipment, apparatus, and fire pumps. From the bucket brigade, departments went to fire pumps powered by humans. Then steamers replaced people, theoretically, because firefighters were not needed to operate the pump. Obviously there have been many more advances to the point that fire pumps today can deliver more water than most departments can apply on a fire-with only one person required to engage the pump.

Besides the fire pump, other elements of water delivery have improved. Synthetic hose has replaced cotton to improve efficiency and reduce friction loss and weight. Different diameter hose is available. Nozzles have been improved to deliver more water at reduced pressures to help with deployment and maneuverability. Water additives and foams have been developed to improve water's extinguishing capabilities. Water can be delivered in more ways than ever: through deck guns, elevated streams, special nozzles, and other specialty items.

So, you ask, what does this mean? There are a few things to think about and consider.

Increased Choices

Obviously there are many more choices to make today. Organizations need to study and investigate all their options and choose based on their circumstances. Not everything available will help improve every department's capabilities. Besides knowing capabilities, organizations need to know their limitations. They also need to understand the benefits being gained and whether or not these benefits are worth the cost.

As with virtually everything being done in today's fire service, training is more important than ever. Having the appropriate equipment does not get the water to the fire. Properly trained firefighters make that happen. They must be efficient and effective in their operation. They need to practice with all the components to the point that proficiency is maintained based on acceptable standards established by the department. The training must also include lessons in determining which options are best to use in various situations. Although the basic premise of getting water on the fire seems simple, the equipment, apparatus, and staffing available create multiple choices. Add to them the changing fire environment, including construction and contents, and you begin to see that the simple process of delivering water can be more complex when considering efficiency and effectiveness.

Water Delivery

Let's start with the apparatus and pump. What size pump do you really need on your vehicles? The trend is to get fire engines that deliver the most possible water, and most vehicles today exceed 1,500 gallons per minute (gpm). Although it may be difficult to argue against getting the most capacity as the cost of increasing pump size can be relatively small, organizations should at least consider their capabilities based on staffing and water supplies.

There are some organizations that, because of water supply limitations or inadequate staffing, cannot deliver 1,500 gpm from a single apparatus. To carry this further, they may not have a fire problem that requires this capability. But, I doubt if many departments consider their capabilities and try to match their equipment, apparatus, and personnel. This could be because it is a minor issue in the overall scope of the service. Yet a professional organization should not get in the habit of always doing what it has always done just because.

Hose Deployment

Deploying hose is something personnel should continually practice to improve efficiencies and time. Organizations should know the amount of time it will take to stretch various h

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Posted: May 1, 2013

Who Will Make the Next Move?

By Richard Young
Performance Advantage Company

The January issue of Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment contained the Editor's Opinion, "Apparatus Crashes Are Plain Unacceptable," which was very good but did not emphasize the personal responsibility of the driver and officer. How many firefighters recognize the extent of their own personal responsibility if they drive recklessly? The facts of what it costs to drive stupid have to be hammered home.

Spartan Motors provided to the Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA) Apparatus Symposium its compliance leader, Wesley D. Chestnut, to talk about emergency vehicles and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I was in awe of the complexity of emissions controls on fire trucks. He further commented on what must be done to meet guidelines set up by others who think they know what is best for fire trucks. Frankly, I feel nauseous looking at the complexity of firefighting tools, which is exactly what a fire truck is.

Richard Marinucci's January 2013 Chief Concerns column, "The Fire Engine's Expanding Mission," hit the nail on the head. The first concern of fire apparatus design is to have available the multitude of tools and equipment they must carry. Guess what? The space lost from accommodating emission control equipment is priceless. The ever expanding mission, as Marinucci calls it, is growing daily. As it becomes more of a challenge for short-staffed volunteers to properly respond to all kinds of emergencies, the fire apparatus they need must have "everything but the kitchen sink" on them. Where do you put all these essential tools?


When I was president of the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers Association (FAMA) more than 45 years ago, there was a major change coming to the fire service that no one in the industry could foresee. All of a sudden, the Department of Transportation (DOT) insisted on clearance lights on fire trucks along with reflectors. None of the truck builders could even imagine such a thing happening. Even FAMA, which was a singular association then, decided we should join the truck body and equipment association, which had information desperately needed by FAMA members.

Back in about 1966, I was asked, as president of FAMA, to make a presentation to the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) in Wentworth by the Sea, Maine. I advised the group that new regulations were forcing truck manufacturers to add clearance lights and reflectors to all fire trucks. It was shocking to have the president of the IAFC accuse all fire truck manufacturers of joining together so we could charge them more money for a fire truck. The main point of this story is that no one in the fire service, including the IAFC, saw this somewhat foolish requirement coming. What's more, there was no input from the fire industry. Everyone was caught flatfooted.

Oppose Where Proper

Speed up to the present runaway emission standards. The imposition of this very debatable requirement seems to have been accepted by the fire service-without opposition. With no opposition from the fire service itself, the fire apparatus manufacturers have no choice but to do whatever is required. The added costs are burdensome to manufacturers as well as buyers of apparatus. I may be wrong, but I will bet that meeting emission standards for fire trucks has not cost millions of dollars but that the cost is in the billions.

Can anyone regulate emissions from a junk yard fire? How about a tire storage facility? How about a 2,000-acre wildfire? Why burden fire trucks so much that a great mechanic cannot keep them running without a computer? Why should the fire service accept mechanical complexity that is pure nonsense and in many ways exceptionally expensive?

Maybe I don't know what is going on, but I see a need for a technical commi

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Posted: May 1, 2013

Look Within

By Chris Mc Loone

It's not easy to turn on the news without watching or listening to a story dealing with the federal budget. Many fire departments rely on various grant programs to secure funding for apparatus upgrades, personal protective equipment (PPE), firefighting and rescue equipment, and other aspects of their operations. One piece of good news recently is that sequestration will not affect FY2012 or prior grant awards. FY2013 is another story, however. For any fire department that has not sat down to take a hard look at how it operates, now is the time. Sequestration and fiscal cliffs are simply examples of the dangers of operating without a plan for what to do if government funds evaporate.

I recently spoke with Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment "To the Rescue" columnist Carl Haddon on my radio show, Talking Trucks & Equipment. I asked him to come on the show to talk about the challenges rural fire departments face regarding apparatus and equipment. As the show got underway, Haddon related how his department is prepared to operate at a structure fire for at least the first 45 minutes because the closest mutual-aid company is 22 miles away. Additionally, its first-out apparatus is a 1982 Ford/Darley. The conversation turned to personnel, funding, training, and equipment. In short, it isn't easy running a rural fire department these days.

That is not to say that it's any easier running a large municipal department or a medium-size volunteer department. We're all experiencing the same issues, but for our rural departments, these problems are exacerbated by their locale, population, and tax base.

What struck me during our conversation is that Haddon's department is not slowing. It continues to move forward, maintaining what it has, taking advantage of opportunities as they arise, and doing this always with the safety of its firefighters in mind. There is no question his department uses aging equipment and may at some point be forced into a situation where it has no choice but to bite the bullet and upgrade an apparatus based on need, not desire.

No fire company should be operating based on an influx of federal funds that could, realistically, disappear at any time. Grant funding isn't easy to come by. There are fewer dollars, and the requirements to qualify for them are more stringent today-many times tied into training, which is a whole other piece of the puzzle. Whether it is equipment, apparatus, firefighting equipment, or PPE, fire departments should be planning responsibly.

With that said, Haddon cited an example of how things do happen unexpectedly that force companies to completely reevaluate their plans. His department had been saving for some time to replace one of its apparatus. All of a sudden, it found itself in charge of the Mustang Complex fire of 2012. In one day of paying for mutual-aid resources from outside the area, the company wiped out $100,000 of its savings for a new truck. So, even the best-laid plans can be blown up when you least expect it.

Operating a fire department goes beyond funding. Even well-funded fire departments can easily find themselves in trouble if they are not responsible and they do not plan. Planning is key. Set budgets and stick to them. Applying for grants can be part of any plan, but don't base the rest of your strategy on securing the funds. Grant funds should be part of Plan B.

Look into group buys. Another point Haddon made was that he discovered there are many fire departments just like his. If you look around, I'm sure you'll find fire departments similar to your own. Contact them. Meet up with them and investigate how setting up a group purchase might help you replace some of your PPE or self-contained breathing apparatus at a reduced cost.

The next time you spec out an apparatus, don't build a parade piece. There are many "nice to have" options, but are they

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Posted: May 1, 2013

Special Delivery: Upgraded ISO Rating Means New Buying Strategy for Indiana Fire Department

Alan M. Petrillo

The Lafayette Township Fire Protection District, in Floyds Knobs, Indiana, was on the verge of putting out specs for a new pumper when it heard from the Insurance Services Organization (ISO), the national agency that rates fire departments, that Lafayette Township's rating had been upgraded. However, along with the upgrade came a recommendation that the department add a reserve pumper to increase its overall pumping capacity.

(1-2) After the ISO recommended that Lafayette Township Fire
Protection District in Floyds Knobs, Indiana, increase its
pumping capacity, the district purchased a pumper and pumper-
tanker from Toyne. (Photos courtesy of Toyne.)

Planning for Everything

Jeremy Klein, Lafayette Township's chief, says a lot of thought, energy, and effort had gone into preparing the specifications for the pumper to be bid, and with the ISO recommendation, they had to do it all again for another vehicle. "We have a vehicle replacement plan that takes our area into consideration," Klein says. "We have everything across the board-rural farmland, suburban residential, strip malls, commercial, and light industrial. Some of the areas are hilly and some residential areas have houses that are single-story in front and three stories in the back."

Klein notes Lafayette Township has a lot of hydrants on the south side of its district but fewer on its north side. "And, we have a lot bigger properties on the north side with longer driveways, so our vehicles have to carry a fair amount of hose," he says. "This would be our first-line pumper, so we wanted it to carry a lot of ground ladders but still have 1,000 gallons of water."

(3) The Toyne pumper-tanker carries a Zico hydraulic rack that
handles a 2,100-gallon portable tank. (Photo courtesy of Toyne.)

Klein says the truck committee also wanted the vehicle to have full depth and height compartments on both sides, a rear suction inlet, and a light tower and to have it built on a custom chassis. "We wanted this pumper to be an all-around vehicle," Klein adds.

Adding the pumper recommended by the ISO meant a change in thinking for the department. It had a 1995 S&S International 2,500-gallon tanker that was nearing replacement, so the committee chose to spec a pumper-tanker-the first for the department. "We downsized a bit on the water tank specs to a 2,000-gallon water tank but added a 1,500-gallon-per-minute (gpm) pump," Klein observes. "We also tried to make as many similarities in layout between the two vehicles as possible, with pump panels laid out the same and everything in the same places."

Awarding the Contracts

Lafayette Township bid the two vehicles separately but at the same time and awarded both contracts to Toyne. Mike Watts, Toyne's national sales manager, says the company had not worked with Lafayette Township before but had built "an almost identical pumper for a neighboring department that does mutual aid with them. It was a vehicle with a big pump and water tank, large compartments, lots of ground ladders and lights, and carrying a lot of hose-a true multipurpose vehicle."

(4) Ladder storage on Lafayette Township's Toyne pumper is
through th Read more
Posted: May 1, 2013

Five Questions for Harold Boer, President of Rosenbauer America

Chris Mc Loone

CM: What do you think has led to the success of the Commander chassis?

HB: I think some of it is the background work we did in the design and engineering of it. We spent a full year going around to fire departments, getting their input on it, and showing them some preliminary designs. Also, we worked with our own in-house engineers and we contracted to some outside engineering specialists, who had engineers who had come from other chassis manufacturers. So, they had the do's and the donts and the "best of" types of things from different chassis and they incorporated a lot of those into our design. And also the commitment of our dealers when they had their own chassis to sell and promote-our dealers were a very big part of the success of this. We also had large order from Saudi Arabia, which saw the design and bought into it right away.

CM: What's next for Rosenbauer America?

HB: We don't have any major projects on the horizon. Right now we want to just focus on efficiencies and enhance and improve some of the current features we have. In Europe, they introduce new products about every five years at Interschutz. In the United States, the Americans try to introduce new products at FDIC and a lot of times, Americans end up designing something just so they can introduce something. Right now we're going to hold off on any new major introductions for a few years and really fine tune what we have, become more efficient at it, take some cost out of things, and hopefully reduce costs for the fire departments.

CM: What do you think is the most important innovation in the fire service during the past five years?

HB: I think in the past five years it's the introduction of electronics throughout the fire industry, primarily in fire apparatus. Everything is electronic. The emissions on the chassis are controlled by electronics, electronic governors, the foam systems have electronics, the aerials have electronics. LED lighting even has electronics-you can program different flash patterns. The advent of all the electronics and LED lighting that are introduced on fire apparatus today, to me, is the biggest thing that's come.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards are updated about every five years. Those standards were written around all the analog systems and dial gauges. With technology in electronics moving so fast, it's hard to adapt the electronics to meet the old NFPA standards-when you talk about size of numbers, size of gauges, things like that. We can make the control panels a lot smaller now with electronics. But, the old NFPA standards still say that the access panel has to be so big, for example. It is difficult for the NFPA standards to keep up with the electronics because they move so fast. By the time a standard is written, the technology may already be obsolete.

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

HB: There are a few issues that are facing the fire service. One, obviously, is funding. The federal and local budgets are being cut and are really being held back. So, that's an issue all the way around. I'm not sure how to address that. The volunteers always have their fundraisers, but volunteers get tired of holding fundraisers so they can buy themselves protective clothing.

In some areas, the luster of being a firefighter has worn off a little bit. They're not seen as the heroes like they once were-like after 9/11. That has changed a little bit. I'm not real sure how to get that back. Maybe more visibility by the fire service, doing good public service type of things in the community. To me, that's the biggest thing.

CM: What keeps you up at night?

HB: Probably the biggest thing

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