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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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Posted: May 1, 2013

Apparatus/Equipment News

Newtex Industries Z-Flex Silver multilayer aluminized fabric systemNewtex Industries Z-Flex® Silver™ multilayer aluminized fabric system combines Z-Flex Multilayer Aluminization (MLA™) technology with a proprietary 3D Mock Knit™ fabric featuring PBI flame-resistant fibers. Z-Flex Silver is a five-layer outer shell composite that has been completely engineered to provide durable, comfortable protection from high-energy radiant heat. By reflecting back the heat, Z-Flex Silver allows close flame proximity while reducing the rate of heat absorption that can lead to thermal fatigue. The innovative Z-Flex Silver fabric starts with the Z-Flex MLA process that employs thin film vapor deposition technology to apply very fine, highly reflective aluminum particles to both sides of a high-temperature polymer film barrier. Z-Flex® films are designed to reflect up to 95 percent of radiant heat with zero flame or afterglow even when exposed to direct flame.
-www.newtex.com, 800-836-1001

FLIR Systems, Inc. K-Series thermal imaging camerasFLIR Systems, Inc. K-Series thermal imaging cameras (TICs) are designed for easier operation and better visibility. K-Series offers two models: the K40 with a 240×180 thermal detector and the high-resolution K50 with a 320×240 detector. Both TICs provide five imaging modes to optimize sensitivity for higher or lower temperature ranges, including search and rescue (SAR) and hotspot detection options. A bright four-inch LCD clearly shows detailed images and colorized isotherms generated by the various dynamic ranges. And, oversized buttons make it easy for gloved hands to quickly toggle through modes, press zoom, and access other functions. K-Series also features onboard image storage for up to 200 thermal JPEGs, which can be reviewed later from the camera's archive or exported via USB for reports.
-www.FLIR.com, 877-773-3547

FoxFury Lighting Solutions Nomad Area-Spot light clampsFoxFury Lighting Solutions Nomad Area-Spot light clamps mount to walls and vehicles. These clamps, along with the Nomad carrying bag, permit first responders and industrial professionals to easily store and retrieve the Nomad Prime and 360. This Nomad clamp system provides a safe and secure storage solution. Users have found, that properly mounted, these clamps enable the Nomad to function as a vehicle mounted light. Each set of two Nomad wall clamps secures the Nomad Prime or 360 lights to a wall or service vehicle via #10 bolts (not included). The Nomad can be removed or secured in fewer than 20 seconds, even if thick gloves are worn. The FoxFury Nomad Series Area-Spot lights are combination area lights and spot lights.
-www.foxfury.com, 760-945-4231

Task Force Tips's (TFT) Hemisphere initial attack monitor Task Force Tips's (TFT) Hemisphere initial attack monitor offers a full hemisphere (360 degrees) field of attack, as well as an easy-to-use monitor base mount that attaches quickly and safely to a beam, a railing, a tank lip, a concrete barrier, or even a common trailer hitch. This monitor, when attached to a 2½- or three-inch attack line, delivers up to 500 gpm, with 200 (plus) pounds of nozzle reaction. Similarly, the Hemisphere's new "anti-drop" mechanism prevents operator errors. If the monitor is mounted upsid

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Posted: May 1, 2013

Wearable Video Solutions Streamline Fire Investigations and Inspections

Dave Poulin

A picture is worth a thousand words, especially in fire investigations and inspections. Photographs have long served a critical role for fire investigators and inspectors by allowing them to document scenes to preserve important information.

In recent years, the evolution of technology has brought digital video into the mix as well, which expands the ability to collect valuable data in the field. Not only does video capture information that photos may not, it also has numerous other benefits, including being especially effective in a courtroom. However, many popular consumer-grade video cameras are not suitable for use in fire service-video quality may be poor, especially in low-light conditions or bad weather, and the information may not be admissible in court because of chain of command requirements. While professional grade video equipment is another option, cameras may be too heavy and bulky for efficient field service, and the technology may be out of reach because of limited budgets.

Wearable Solutions

To overcome these challenges, today's modern fire service professionals are turning to industrial-grade wearable video solutions. Designed for first responders, these advanced tools can capture and store tamperproof video and audio to deliver an accurate and unbiased record. As wearable technology, the devices serve as total situational awareness and seamless digital information capture tools and important assets for fire scene investigators and inspectors.

Engineered to collect information in a range of environments, wearable video solutions can capture information that might otherwise be missed. Optimized to record both day and night images, wearable video solutions built for industrial use can operate continuously for as much as five hours and produce high-resolution video. Complete with wide angle fish-eye views and built-in microphones, the latest wearable camera devices even feature gyroscopic stabilization and image distortion correction software and can allow for video playback while maintaining the evidence integrity of the original file. Wearable cameras built for industrial use also often offer a ruggedized form factor that is both dust- and water-resistant, which ensures a level of durability superior to consumer-grade models.

(1) Designed for first responders, these advanced tools can capture
and store tamper-proof video and audio to deliver an accurate and
unbiased record. As wearable technology, the devices serve as
total situational awareness and seamless digital information
capture tools and important assets for fire scene investigators and
inspectors.
(Photo courtesy of Panasonic System Communications Company of North America.)

Evidence

When it comes to evidence recovery in the field, wearable video devices can be critical for investigators in the aftermath of a fire. According to the latest estimates on major fire causes, in 20111 United States fire rescue crews responded to an estimated 28,900 intentionally set home structure fires. In potential crime scene cases where intentional fires may have been set, wearable camera devices are especially useful because investigators can use footage from fire rescue operations to preserve hard-to-document early scene images that may prove critical to solving an investigation. These include bystanders, nearby vehicles, and other potential evidence that can be easily lost, moved, or forgotten in the confusion and panic at the scene of a fire. Once suspects have been identified and located, investigators can also use the footage to evaluate testimony provided during witness interviews.

In prosecutions, fire investigation

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