WFC News

Posted: Mar 3, 2014

District with Various Terrains and Structures Calls for 4x4 Pumpers

By Alan M. Petrillo

Bernalillo County (NM) Fire & Rescue has to protect an enormous coverage area-1,169 square miles encompassing diverse kinds of terrain and a wide range of structure types and densities.

The county surrounds the city of Albuquerque, and among the areas it covers is a large, mostly rural section on the east side of the Sandia and Manzanos Mountains that has a relatively limited water supply.

Darrell R. Lindsey, Bernalillo County's deputy chief, says the answer to the department's pumper needs in that part of the district was a fleet of four Pierce Velocity 4x4 pumpers, purchased over a four-year period. Bernalillo County Fire & Rescue expects to take delivery of its fourth Velocity 4x4 pumper this Spring.

"We run all Pierce Quantum pumpers on the city (west) side of the mountains," says Lindsey. "But because we get a fair amount of snow on the east side, and roads can be gravel and pretty tight in some places, we went with the Pierce Velocity 4x4 pumpers."

Pierce Velocity 4x4 pumpers

Bernalillo County (NM) Fire & Rescue turned to Pierce Manufacturing
to build four Pierce Velocity 4x4 pumpers over the course of four
years. All the pumpers (third unit delivered in 2013 depicted here), are
on 184½-inch wheelbases with 31-foot overall lengths and are
powered by Detroit 500-hp DD13 diesel engines and Allison 4000 EVS
automatic transmissions. (Photo courtesy of Bernalillo County Fire &


Two Distinct Response Areas

Bernalillo County Fire & Rescue has four stations on the rural east side of its district, each housing a Pierce 4x4 pumper, while Pierce Quantum pumpers and aerials are stationed in the eight stations located in the urban areas of the district.

"Because the Quantums sit so tall, Pierce doesn't build a four-wheel drive on that frame, so we first looked at the Pierce Arrow and Saber models," Lindsey says. "But, we concluded that with all the equipment we carry on our pumpers and the need for an emergency medical service (EMS) cabinet inside the crew cab, the Velocity 4x4 would be the model for us."

Lindsey points out that the Velocity is set up as a six-person cab with three self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) seats, the driver's seat, and two fold-down forward-facing seats. "The cab is easy to get into and out of because of its larger doors," he notes, "and the vehicle rides very well for a four-wheel drive. It's really built for the firefighters, with the big roomy cab and the one-piece window that gives great visibility for the driver and officer. And, the doghouse inside the cab sits fairly low, which allows for good visibility across the crew cab and out the front for the firefighters in the back."

The Bernalillo County Pierce pumpers carry Waterous 2,000-gpm pumps, 500-gallon water tanks, and 25-gallon foam cells, along with FoamPro 2002 single-agent proportioning systems

The Bernalillo County Pierce
pumpers carry Waterous 2,000-gpm
pumps, 500-gallon water tanks, and
25-gallon foam cells, along with
FoamPro 2002 single-agent
proportioning systems. (Photo
courtesy of Bernalillo County Fire
& Rescue.)


One of the options that Bernalillo County chose was to have an EMS compartment installed on the back wall between the two flip-down seats. "T

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Posted: Mar 3, 2014

Avoiding Apparatus Seating Pitfalls

By Chris Mc Loone

In recent years, there has been much focus on seating for firefighters inside apparatus.

Firefighters come in all shapes and sizes, and they all carry pieces of equipment with them in their turnout gear, including hand tools as well as personal escape systems. All of these things add to the space a firefighter takes up when he sits in the apparatus. Additionally, recent emissions control requirements have increased the size of the "doghouse" between the driver and officer or rear occupants.

With all these factors impacting the space firefighters have to get in, sit down, don SCBA, and put on their seat belts, interest in apparatus seating is understandable. Anthropometric studies, which have resulted in new seat belt designs intended to make them easier to use, have focused on the average size of firefighters in and out of their personal protective equipment (PPE). Additionally, seating manufacturers have taken a look at what firefighters are carrying in or on their PPE to begin designing seating around today's firefighters.

The Valor Firefighting Seat features the Valor SCBA pack
support straps-magnetic straps that keep the straps in the right
location for easy access. Valor is also the only seat on the market
which has a center release handle that releases both the seat belt
and the SCBA bottle. (Photo courtesy of Valor Firefighting


Department Demands

Although every fire department is different, there are commonalities to what they are demanding from their apparatus seating. "Ultimate durability," says Joe Mirabile, vice president, business development, Valor Firefighter Seats. "Firefighters are quite possibly the toughest operators of gear on the planet. They put the seats through a lot, and the seats need to be able to stand up to the beating they will take. The upholstery itself needs to be strong and a very tight fit to avoid catching on equipment or ripping." Mirable adds that the seats should be easy to get into including belt safety restraint and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) pack straps.

In terms of ingress and egress, Paul Bostrom, vice president of sales and marketing at H. O. Bostrom, says departments are looking for SCBA brackets that automatically lock when an SCBA is pushed into the seat and releases with an easy release handle built into the front of the seat cushion. Bostrom also lists many other items fire departments are demanding:

  • Seat adjustability, including fore/aft, height, back recline, and seat tilt adjustment.
  • Driver seats that adjust to fit all size occupants.
  • Officer seat adjustment, including SCBA seats with back recline and fore/aft adjustment.
  • Crew seats with flip-up seat cushions to save space.
  • Integral three-point seat belts mounted in the seats.
  • Air suspension seats to absorb road shocks.
  • Durable trim material.
  • Low sewn seams on seat cushions.
  • Ease of serviceability without special upholstery tools.
  • Air bag integration.

Mirabile adds, "Once at the fire, adrenalin is going, and the seat needs to be as easy to get out of as possible. This is why we created the Valor SCBA pack support straps-magnetic st

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Posted: Mar 3, 2014

Goodfellow AFB Employs a Variety of Training Apparatus and Equipment

By Alan M. Petrillo

Goodfellow Air Force Base, located inside the city limits of San Angelo, Texas, serves as the home for basic and advanced firefighting training for each branch of the United States military services through its Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy.

The Fire Academy plays host to 15 advanced fire protection courses and an extremely intensive fire protection apprentice course and instructs individuals from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and civil service employees from the Department of Defense. Courses include the Fire Protection Apprentice Course, Rescue Technician I and II, Hazmat Technician T-t-T, WMD Technician, Instructor III, Inspector, fire officer courses, Fire Marshal, and the P-23 distance learning course.


Air Force Tech Sergeant Kevin Coughlin has been an instructor at the Fire Academy for nearly four years and teaches Block 4 structural fireground operations. He points out that the Fire Academy has 17 structural firefighting pieces of apparatus, mostly made by Pierce Manufacturing Inc. and KME. "The pumpers range from 2012 to late 1980s models," he says. "Typically the pumpers have 1,500-gallon per minute (gpm)pumps and a mix of 750- and 500-gallon water tanks. All the vehicles carry foam because we train and use foam predominantly at the fire academy, and some of the vehicles are set up as Class III wildland rigs."

Students from the 312th Training Squadron at Goodfellow AFB put out a fire in the Helo Trainer at the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy

Students from the 312th Training Squadron at Goodfellow AFB
put out a fire in the Helo Trainer at the Louis F. Garland
Department of Defense Fire Academy. (Photo courtesy of U.S.
Air Force by Senior Airman Michael Smith.)


Coughlin points out the newest pumper, built by Pierce, has a CAFS system, two 1¾-inch hose crosslays, and a hosebed filled with five-inch large-diameter hose (LDH). The wildland Type III vehicles, which have heavy-duty all-terrain tires and are lifted seven inches, are all KME-manufactured, he notes, and serve as wildland urban interface type structural rigs.

"We keep the students busy in the structural fireground operations block," Coughlin says. "Block 4 lasts 15 days, which includes three lecture days and 12 days spent working outside. The students have 43 hands-on objectives where they are evaluated and face nine different live fires in six days." Every student practices every position in firefighting, working in teams of two or four, he adds, practicing evolutions and honing their skills before they are evaluated at each position.

"We have ten burn trainers, including two structural firefighting trainers, each with three stories and three live burn rooms," Coughlin says. "They all are propane-fired and allow us to give both high and low rollover of flames."

Other burn trainers include those for vehicle, dumpster, and above-ground propane storage tank simulators. For wildland fire simulations, Coughlin says that academy instructors burn hay in a concrete area surrounded by a sprinkler system. "The students get to do defensive fire protection work using control lines," he notes.

Besides its live-burn training structures, the fire academy has a structural training building it uses in the apprentice and advanced fire protection courses. The lightweight structural trainer was required to train students to breach, search, and shore up light frame structures involved in natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes. The trainer has walls that are bowed to simu

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Posted: Mar 3, 2014

Forcible Entry Tool

By Raul A. Angulo

Two of my most memorable calls are not as spectacular as you would think.

When I was a young firefighter working a shift at Engine 16 in the Greenlake District of Seattle, Washington, my wife came in to make the crew her excellent chicken-big shell pasta dish with broccoli covered in a creamy Alfredo mushroom sauce-one of my favorite dishes to date. Just as we sat down for dinner, the bell hit for a full response and we never got a chance to eat it-maybe that is why it's memorable. The Masonic Temple was just two blocks away from the station, and I knew we would be first in. When we pulled up, flames were blowing out a second-story window in the alley.

The driver hooked up to the hydrant, the officer did a radio size-up, and I pulled the attack line. I knew the building was dark, so I also grabbed a pickhead ax. I was all by myself. Back in 1985, we didn't have any real training in forcible entry. You just forced entry the best way you could and used whatever it took. We had pry bars, but the halligan and the K-tools didn't show up in Seattle until about 1996. The A-tool or officer's tool showed up two years ago.

The front door to the Masonic Temple was an old, arch-shaped, ornate wooden door. It looked like it came from an ancient gothic church. Not knowing any better at the time, I knew I had to "chop" my way through this door and I was going right through the middle. After about five heavy duty whacks, the door flung open. I remember thinking, "Wow! That was cool-just like in the movies." In reality, the lock probably just gave way because I had no idea what I was doing. I needlessly destroyed a beautiful piece of wood. But I advanced the line up the stairs and put out the kitchen fire in the auditorium before anyone else backed me up. I've put out a lot of fires over the years, but damaging that door unnecessarily still bothers me to this day.

Another memorable door breach was when I working on Engine 13 in the Beacon Hill District. We were dispatched to a suicide. As I led my crew up the stairs to the front porch, we could see the patient through the window. The adrenalin kicked in, and since I was leading the charge, I decided to be John Wayne and kick the front door in without missing a step. Whatever locking mechanism they had in place ricocheted me off the door and almost off the front porch! I told my three gargantuans to break the door down and they knocked in the entire door frame. We forced entry but we were too late.

Both of these stories have stayed with me because there are better, more professional techniques to force entry with minimal damage. We just hadn't been taught. Today, it's different. The halligan and the flathead ax, traditionally known as "the irons," are married together and carried on every fire apparatus. Training on forcible entry techniques is taken more seriously in our department and included as a component of our annual performance evaluations. The incident priority acronym-RECEO/VS: Rescue, Exposures, Confinement, Extinguishment, Overhaul/Ventilation, and Salvage-can't even begin until you gain access to the occupancy.


Once you size the W-Tool to the horizontal width of the door,
move it up to the strongest part of the door in close proximity of
the lock. Pump the handle until you have the W-Tool tightly
wedged against the door jambs. (Photos courtesy of the Weddle
Tool Company.)


The W-Tool

One of the coolest tools I've seen at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) is the W-Tool by the Weddle Tool Company of Bunker Hill, West Virginia. The founder, inventor, and CEO is Dave Weddle, who

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Posted: Mar 3, 2014

What Tire Resistance Means for Fire Apparatus

By Chris Mc Loone

Since 2010, the fire industry has been impacted by changes in emissions control regulations.

Traditionally, anything having to do with meeting emissions control guidelines fell to engine manufacturers to figure out. And, many of the 2010 changes impacted engines, with the most signigficant example being the need to run "regens" when prompted by the vehicles.

For 2014, there is a new round of emissions control changes promulgated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One aspect of these changes involves tires, and there have been a number of questions revolving around what these changes will mean for the fire service.

2014 Program

According to Wes Chestnut, lead compliance with Spartan Motors, Inc. and co-chair for the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers' Association (FAMA) chassis committee, the program that began in January 2014 is a joint agency effort between the NHTSA and the EPA. He refers to it as the Heavy Duty National Program. "The EPA standpoint is the greenhouse gas (GHG) aspect-the output of the engine and the carbon footprint of the vehicle," he says. "The NHTSA piece of it was for fuel efficiency."

Chestnut explains the program is a two-stage rule. "The 2014 model year was the first round of the GHG reductions," he says. "The 2016 model year brings the first round of fuel efficiency for the vocational vehicles. 2017 is the final phase of the GHG reduction as part of the original Heavy Duty National Program. And, 2018 is the final phase of the fuel efficiency piece."

Applying this to the fire service, Chestnut explains that both agencies have recognized that there is a national heavy-duty fleet, but it's the first time they segmented this fleet into vocational vehicles. "They took into consideration how segmented that vocational vehicle segment really is," he adds.

Rolling resistance has been around in some form since the invention of the wheel.

Rolling resistance has been around in some form since the invention of the
wheel. Mobility, at that time, was limited by the road surface, or
deformation, which created motion resistance. The wagon wheel had
relatively low rolling resistance. It was not very durable and had very little
or no ride comfort. With the introduction of the bias-ply pneumatic tires
came an improvement of durability and comfort, and they had significantly
increased rolling resistance. (Photo courtesy of Michelin.)


Tire Rolling Resistance

One method the EPA uses to calculate GHG levels is calculating tire rolling resistance. "The unit of measurement is not a miles-per-gallon measurement," says Chestnut. "We put the rolling resistance value in the GHG emissions model, say what the fuel consumption is based on the formulas in the rule, and then what the GHG output looks like. Neither the EPA nor the NHTSA has mandated any rolling resistance on the tire manufacturers. But, what it does say is that they have a unified test procedure to determine the rolling resistance. They are obligated under the rule to give the vehicle manufacturers that information so that we can see what the output is."

What is rolling resistance specifically? According to Porter Jones, OEM product engineer with Michelin, it is the force required to maintain the forward movement of a tire. He explains that tire rolling resistance is caused by the natural visco-elastic properties of rubber along with the tires' internal components constantly bending, stretching, and recovering as the

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