WFC News

Posted: Jan 10, 2014

Letters to the Editor


The September 2013 issue had an interesting story about compressed air foam systems (CAFS), "CAFS Units Find Homes on a Variety of Apparatus," by Alan Petrillo. It talks about all the advantages of having a CAFS. Some points I agree with and some I don't. The problem is there are many disadvantages that pose many safety issues. I find the fact that none were mentioned disturbing.

First, let me make clear that these are strictly my opinions and not the opinions of the fire department for which I work.

The story stated that a CAFS handline is lighter to carry and less stressful on the firefighter. This is true. The problem is that the handline kinks extremely easily-so easily that it is problematic. Every turn or door jamb in a house will kink that handline. The weight of the nozzle alone will kink the line if it's not held straight. Sure, straight water will kink but not like a CAFS line.

The article also stated that the cooling effect is better. I disagree with this statement. The only thing that cools is water. The only thing that removes Btus is water. CAFS does a great job of smothering, but it does not have the cooling capabilities of water. If the fire goes out, that's great. But if it's still 1,500 degrees, we still have problems. How long are firefighters going to last attacking a basement fire with CAFS only? The fire will go out, but there won't be much cooling.

When we first bought our CAFS engines (three of them), it was preached to us that "CAFS works great in conjunction with timely ventilation." This is great if you're going to ventilate. Many departments can't because of staffing constraints. Water works great too with timely ventilation.

Another problem with CAFS is the foam itself. You spray compressed air foam all over a room, and now it's everywhere-on your gloves, on your facemask, and all over the floor. So, now it's on your mask, and you can't see anything. You wipe your mask with your glove, and now it's worse. You decide to get out of the structure and you slip and fall because the foam is all over.

Then there is the training aspect of CAFS. It is a different way of pumping. I won't get into the details, but if you have questionable driver/operators-and let's face it, we all do-this is a somewhat complicated system to learn.

The price of CAFS can be $30,000 or more per vehicle. This is a huge cost increase over non-CAFS pumpers. I think there is a place for CAFS at car fires, wildland fires, dumpster fires, and areas with a limited water supply. It's also good for protecting exposures

It's important for departments that are contemplating CAFS to know both the advantages and disadvantages.

Rob Walsh
Orland (IL) Fire Protection District

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Posted: Jan 10, 2014

In The News

the Ferrara CinderFERRARA FIRE APPARATUS has launched its newest custom chassis-the Ferrara Cinder. The Cinder is manufactured at Ferrara's Holden, Louisiana, headquarters and has the same design and construction found in the Inferno and Igniter but is a 96-inch-wide cab designed to compete in the entry level custom chassis market. The Cinder features an extruded aluminum roll cage subframe fortified by 3/16-inch-thick marine grade aluminum plate walls, floor, ceiling, door panels, and engine tunnel. The Cinder is NFPA-compliant with 65,979-pound vertical load test and 3,736-pound frontal impact test certifications. Standard features include an Extreme Duty all aluminum dash, instrument panel, glove box, overhead console, and inner door panels; electric windows; Danhard extra duty air conditioning system; flat floor rear crew cab for improved legroom; ergonomic height seat risers; 4,100-square-inch windshield; and oversized side windows.

Scott SafetySCOTT SAFETY has been certified by the North Carolina Department of Labor as a participant in the Carolina Star Program. State Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry attended a ceremony at the company's Monroe, North Carolina, facility to present company officials with the Carolina Star flag and a certificate. Companies that qualify for the award have exemplary safety and health programs in the workplace. One of the criteria of the program is that worker injury and illness rates and lost/restricted workday rates must be at least 50 percent below the national rate for the company's industry. "As a premier manufacturer of safety devices, it is important that we hold ourselves and those around us to the highest standards of health and safety and that we live these values on a daily basis," said Andrew Chrostowski, vice president and general manager for Scott Safety. "I applaud every employee for their commitment to creating a culture of health and safety excellence, whether it be for our customers, our community, their colleagues, or themselves."

PIERCE MANUFACTURING, an Oshkosh Corporation company, received an order for nine Pierce® Arrow XT™ custom pumpers from the DeKalb County (GA) Fire and Rescue Department. The vehicles will be delivered beginning in early 2014. Each of the nine pumpers features a 400-hp engine, a galvanneal steel body, a 10-inch raised roof cab, and seating for five firefighters. The apparatus also feature Pierce Command Zone® advanced electronics and control systems, 1,000-gpm pumps, 500-gallon water tanks, 30-gallon foam cells, and three crosslays. Pierce dealer Ten-8 Fire and Safety Equipment provides local service and support through its full service facilities in Forsyth, Georgia.

ALLIED SPECIALTY VEHICLES (ASV) appointed Dan Peters president and CEO of E-ONE, Inc. Peters replaces Kent Tyler. Peters has more than 15 years of experience in the first responder industry-four years in an executive role with a fire apparatus manufacturer and 12 years with a fire industry supplier where he served as president from 1998 to 2008 and vice president of sales and marketing from 1996 to 1998. "I'm very excited to be back in the fire industry, especially with E-ONE who is recognized as an industry leader and innovator," says Peters. "Kent and the E-ONE team have made E-ONE a name to be reckoned with in the fire industry, and I look forward to working with the E-ONE team, dealers, and customers to continue building upon that legacy."

E-ONE has also added a new dealer in Michigan-West Shore Fire, a provider of first responder apparatus and equipment-to its dealer network. West Shor

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Posted: Jan 10, 2014

Know the "Rights" of Apparatus Climbing

By Roger Lackore

Any truck fleet manager will tell you that slips, trips, and falls are the most common causes of truck operator injuries.

When you consider that most truck operators are not encumbered with protective clothing, self-contained breathing apparatus, and a variety of equipment hanging from their belts, it stands to reason that as firefighters we need to be even more careful. Whether getting into or out of the cab or climbing onto or off of the exterior, we must discipline ourselves to take the right approach every time.

The Right Way to Climb

The over-arching rule of safety when climbing is called having "three points of contact." This rule means that you keep three of your four appendages (hands and feet) in contact with the apparatus at all times. Starting by facing the apparatus with both feet on the ground and both hands grasping a handrail or other secure structure, lift one foot at a time onto the first step, platform, or rung. Before grasping something higher, make sure both feet are firmly planted and you hold on with your other hand. Continue in this fashion, always making sure you have one hand and two feet, or two hands and one foot, in contact with the apparatus at all times. Climbing off is the same thing in reverse-make sure you face the apparatus as you descend.

This is a pretty simple concept, but it is important enough that it deserves some attention. Avoid the temptation to cut corners; professionals never do. If this technique is not second nature, take 10 minutes each day to practice climbing and descending using the three points of contact method until you are doing it every time without thinking. At first you may need to concentrate, but soon you will establish muscle memory and you can climb and descend safely every time.

The Right Place to Climb

Apparatus in compliance with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus, will have at least one spot on the apparatus exterior where you can climb using three points of contact. This may be at the back of the apparatus, near the pump panel, or elsewhere depending on your configuration. You might find areas where there are steps to help you reach controls or equipment higher up but where it is not possible to maintain three points of contact all the way to the top. If this is the case, don't continue to climb. Find the route on the apparatus that allows you three points of contact and climb there. If you can't find features to provide a safe climb, contact your fire department safety officer and have the apparatus modified or repaired.

Once you reach the top of most apparatus, it is unlikely that you will have railings to guard you from a fall. Railings are impractical on the top of fire apparatus for a host of obvious reasons including bridge clearance, tree-limb clearance, and interference with aerial ladders. This means that if you are on top of an apparatus, you must be responsible for your own safety. Crouch low and hold on to solid features on the apparatus. If you must stand up, do so only toward the center of the apparatus where you are at less risk of toppling off if you trip.

The Right Surface to Step On

Usually stepping, standing, or walking surfaces are obvious. They should have a slip-resistant feature and be free of any no-step labeling. But, just because a surface has a slip-resistant feature does not mean it is an approved place to step. Apparatus manufacturers purchase special aluminum diamondplate material that has a cross-hatch feature on the top of each diamond. This cross-hatching gives the surface the slip-resistance performance required by the NFPA. However, this same material may be used for protecting apparatus features from wear and tear as well. You may find it on vertical or sloped surfaces, or it may be on features otherwise not intended for stepping

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Posted: Jan 10, 2014

PPE Manufacturers Focus on Weight and Strength

By Alan M. Petrillo

Personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturers are making firefighter turnout gear lighter and stronger by using a variety of fabrics yet still are able to provide the level of safety necessary to protect the users from heat, flame, and other hazards.

Exterior Strength

Structural firefighting turnout gear typically consists of three layers: an outer shell, a thermal liner, and a moisture barrier. Michael Layton, product manager for body protection for Honeywell First Responder Products, says the turnout's outer shell, designed for strength and protection, is the area where improved fabrics can be used to trim weight yet provide added strength.

An outer shell that incorporates a filament yarn, such as PBI Max, which uses Kevlar®, or Vectran®, a fiber spun from liquid crystal polymer, will have a much higher strength than a spun yarn, Layton says. "When you incorporate those kinds of products into a spun yarn, it gives a higher strength to the fabric," he notes.

Lion uses a twill weave with different fiber combinations in its turnout gear
Lion uses a twill weave with different fiber
combinations in its turnout gear to balance
the need for lighter weight against flame,
heat, and cut protection. (Photo courtesy of

Layton says Honeywell recently launched a meta-aramid product called Bolt that incorporates another filament yarn into the fabric mix-a filament yarn on the outside of the material and spun Kevlar on the inside. "The filament is very slick and smooth so it sheds water and dirt," Layton says. "The other nice property is that because it's so slick, it doesn't resist movement in the armpits and crotch when the firefighter is swinging his arms, walking, or crawling."

Layton points out that Bolt is made specifically for turnout coats and pants and is available in all five of Honeywell's turnout lines: Morning Pride, Ultra Motion, Ranger, Vectra SL, and VE Gear. In addition, he notes that Honeywell is working on a new version of its UltraFlex thermal liner that provides a higher slickness factor for ease of mobility in the turnout gear and greater moisture absorption capability.

Patricia Freeman, technical services manager for Globe Manufacturing Co., says outer shells have always been the first line of defense for firefighters in turnout gear. "This is the layer that's subjected to direct heat sources and flame impingement," Freeman says. "Most outer shells in turnout gear primarily use Kevlar fibers as a blend-at least 60 percent Kevlar-and the rest either a PBI or PBO fiber."

Globe Manufacturing Co. uses a fabric blend for its turnout gear outer shells
Globe Manufacturing Co. uses a fabric blend for its turnout gear
outer shells that consists of 60 percent Kevlar and the rest either a
PBI or PBO fiber. (Photo courtesy of Globe Manufacturing Co.)

PBI is extremely flame-resistant and has very good thermal stability, she points out. "The Kevlar gives the outer shell a lot of strength and also contributes to the heat and flame resistance," she adds. "PBO also is extremely heat-resistant and very strong." PBI fibers are made by PBI Performance Products, and PBO fibers are made under the Millenia XT brand by TenCate, she says.

Interior Innovations

Freeman says that for moisture barriers, Globe has been able to reduce the

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Posted: Jan 7, 2014

Assume Ownership of Your Safety

By Chris McLoone

I thought we were doing pretty well during 2013 regarding motor vehicle accidents involving fire apparatus.

I would never kid myself and assume that we would get through a year without any apparatus accidents. They are called accidents for a reason. But then right at the end of the year, there seemed to be a flurry of accidents. In one state, a state trooper and two firefighters were injured when a police cruiser struck the apparatus. I'm not ready just yet to discuss that the apparatus operator in this case is 74 years old. But, stay tuned because that discussion is coming.

In another state, an apparatus rollover injured two firefighters. In this case, the apparatus was reportedly run off the road and ended up on its roof. A week before that, an apparatus accident injured the civilian driver involved in the crash a day after a crash involving an apparatus and SUV injured four civilians, two critically.

Amid this troublesome spate of apparatus accidents came news that one fire department discovered after a crash involving two apparatus that most of its firefighters don't wear seat belts to or from emergency incidents. Additionally, it uncovered that many of the apparatus in this department's fleet had safety devices, like seat belt alarms, disabled. The story made its way to the newswires and was also covered by the local news. I think it's great that it received the attention it did.

Let's talk about seat belts first. To address the seat belt problem, the department mentioned above is now adding a reminder to all dispatches that members wear their seat belts en route to the call. This isn't a really new concept. I was listening to some online audio recently of a larger fire department. In years past when dispatchers there transmitted a box alarm, they would end the transmission with, "All operators use caution when responding." However, when I was listening recently, that phrase was replaced with reminders to use caution, wear seat belts, and so on. And, this really has me thinking: In this day and age, why should any department have to go to such lengths to ensure its personnel wear seat belts? We wear them in our cars. We tell our children to wear them. It is absolutely unacceptable that we don't assume ownership of our own safety to and from emergency incidents.

That's a little bit of a change of course for me-calling into question whether we own our safety. In previous columns, I've called on the officer riding the seat to ensure his crew is belted before departing the firehouse. But at this stage of the game, he should not have to. Twenty years ago when I started my first academy classes, I recall my instructor telling us that as hard as it might be to consider, we are number one, not the victim we are searching for. If things go south, we are to consider our safety first. The concept is hotly debated, but my reason for bringing it up here is that from a very early point, looking out for our own safety is drilled into us. Why are we not translating that into our response to and from the scene? Wear your seat belt. It's a real easy direction.

Now, as far as tampering with safety devices, we are passed the point of worrying about who did it and why. I'm sure it has happened in other places. But, consider the ramifications of tampering with such safety devices. When your truck is delivered, it is compliant with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 1901), Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus. NFPA 1901 compliance involves many, many features designed to keep you safe during an emergency response-and even operating at nonemergency speed. In what world does it make sense to tamper with these safety devices, rendering the apparatus noncompliant? It absolutely boggles my mind that anyone would consider this a good idea.

Departments, assume a zero tolerance policy for not wearing seat belts. And anyone who tampers with a s

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