WFC News

Posted: Jun 3, 2013

Be in It to Win It

By Chris Mc Loone

I don't pretend to understand the reasoning behind every revision that comes down the pike from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). I don't always agree with them, but none has ever made me angry enough that I really get a chip on my shoulder about it. And, I realize that revisions are made in the name of safety.

There are some in the fire service who would have you believe the NFPA is our enemy when it comes to many things-that it makes all sorts of rules that we must follow when specing apparatus or purchasing equipment, adding all sorts of costs to the final price of an apparatus. The contrary is true, and a few recent events reinforce this for me.

Not the Enemy

First, the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board recently met and, during the meeting, talk turned to the NFPA. The conversation revolved around how there is good, solid equipment available to the fire service, but often it comes at a premium price if it is NFPA-compliant.

Bill Peters, a voting member of the NFPA 1901, Standard for Automotive Apparatus, committee stated that there are some who think the committees are in cahoots with the manufacturers, but he decried that premise. In the case of apparatus, he went on to say that no apparatus manufacturer wants to build extra costs into an apparatus and reminded the group that it's not always the NFPA adding costs. In recent years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) caught most of the grief because of the costs involved with 2010 engines.

Second, I sat in at the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers' Association (FAMA) spring Technical Committee meeting. At the beginning of the meeting, FAMA President Harold Boer mentioned that NFPA 1901; 1906, Standard for Wildland Fire Apparatus; and 1917, Standard for Automotive Ambulances, are currently in the revision process. Based on 2012 numbers, which indicate the market has remained generally flat, he challenged committee members to "be careful when we propose these new standards not to add significant cost to the trucks and see our market go down further. If there's a problem, let's address it. If not, let's have a recommended guideline." See more about the Technical Committee meeting in this issue.

Third, at the Technical Committee meeting, Ryan Depew, the NFPA's staff liaison to the technical committee on fire apparatus, gave a presentation on the NFPA's new system for standards revision participation. In a nutshell, it has never been easier for us to participate in the standards revision process. The NFPA is transitioning from paper to electronic submissions. To that end, its Web site has been optimized to accept electronic comments on standards revisions. What many may not realize is that you don't have to be a member of a standard's committee to participate. Anyone can comment. And, the NFPA encourages it. What's more, we all should be doing it.


The NFPA process allows for a comment period. Anyone can comment on proposed revisions to a standard, whether you are a member of the committee or not. Committee members will review all comments and decide whether or not to incorporate them into the proposed revisions. It will also note why a comment makes it into the revision or doesn't. It goes without saying that comments like, "This is a dumb idea," are not going to make it very far into the process. Substantiate why you think a proposed revision needs to be adjusted.

The key is participation. The fire service solves more problems at the "kitchen table" but for some reason is not always ready to participate in the standards revision process, choosing instead to decry the revisions once they come out. The public input period for the first drafts of NFPA 1901, 1906, and 1917 closes on July 8, 2013. There's still plenty of time for you to be a p

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Posted: May 15, 2013

Tacoma Fire Department mourns the loss of 12-year veteran

On-duty Firefighter Albert A. Nejmeh, a 12-year veteran of the Tacoma Fire Department, died shortly before noon on Tuesday at St. Joseph Medical Center after suffering an apparent heart attack while working at the scene of an emergency medical incident. After Firefighter Nejmeh collapsed, he received immediate basic and advanced life support from his fellow firefighters, who then transported him to the hospital...
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Posted: May 1, 2013

Tanker Roles Expanding

Alan M. Petrillo

Because many fire departments are stretched in terms of budgets and personnel, the designs of tankers (also called tenders) have followed the fire industry's multiuse trend, becoming pumper-tankers, and sometimes even encompassing rescue elements instead of being straight water carriers. Fire vehicle manufacturers say very few tankers are built these days without some type of pump on them and, in most cases, are pretty large pumps compared with those traditionally included on tankers simply to offload water.

(1) The Lake Township (MI) Fire Department had Marion build a pumper-tanker
on a commercial chassis that carries a 2,000-gallon water tank
and a Waterous CX Sideswipe 1,250-gpm pump.
(Photo courtesy of Marion.)

Becoming a Given

Dan White, national sales manager for Classic series products at Spartan ERV, says the pumper-tanker concept is almost a given for all the tankers his company sells. "In our Classic series, a lot of departments are using tankers in pumper-tanker and rescue-tanker roles," White points out, "and predominantly in the Southwest, Midwest, and Mountain states we're seeing tankers configured like brush fire tankers."

A brush fire tanker, White says, typically is a tanker carrying 2,000 gallons of water, a 500- to 750-gallon-per-minute (gpm) pump, booster reels, crosslays, a bumper turret, and having pump-and roll-capability to get off of the pavement and onto gravel roads. "We recently built one for the Golden Shores (AZ) Fire Department that's a four-wheel drive on a single axle and has a PTO-driven pump for pump-and-roll capability, traditional water dumps, a 1,000-gpm pump, a 2,000-gallon water tank, and a good amount of compartment space," White says. "We're seeing this as a trend in the Southwest and Mountain states areas where such a vehicle is becoming a wildland pumper-tanker. With budgets down, fire departments are trying to maximize the capability of each piece of apparatus."

White says that Spartan ERV also has seen a new phenomenon in tankers-the rescue-tanker. "It's like a pumper on steroids and typically is a very large vehicle because they are trying to carry everything under the sun," White notes. "They have a lot of compartmentation that's built to reflect the needs of the department using it and often are carrying all the gear you'd see on a pumper, as well as rescue equipment, light towers, scene lights, and water tanks of 2,000 or 2,500 gallons."

Steve Bloomstrand, vice president of operations at RocketFire, notes that RocketFire rarely quotes on a tanker that doesn't have a pump. "Now, the most desirable pump is a 1,000-gpm model, which has almost become a standard," he says. "But we're also seeing some 1,250-gpm pumps too because the vehicles are being used as pumper-tankers where they can carry major water to the scene yet still be a backup pumper."

Mike Harstad, aerial products manager for Rosenbauer, notes that a byproduct of the improved safety on tankers is that end users began looking at the vehicles as multifunctional tools rather than just water haulers. "They began putting bigger pumps on the tankers-1,000- to 1,500-gpm models-which made the vehicles into pumper-tankers that could be used as backup pumpers when necessary," Harstad points out. "These vehicles also carry a lot more storage, much like you'd see on a traditional pumper, and even rescue tools."

(2) UST Fire Read more
Posted: May 1, 2013

Apparatus Purchasing: Consultants and Spec Writers

Bill Adams

When writing apparatus purchasing specifications, many fire departments procure the services of individuals or entities not affiliated with the fire department-outsiders. Except for those purchasing apparatus regularly, most departments don't have personnel with the time or expertise to spec out today's complex, expensive, and multiagency-regulated fire apparatus. Even in larger municipalities with career purchasing departments, the fire department is expected to, at a minimum, provide the technical verbiage for the "nuts and bolts"-all the parts, pieces, and accoutrements comprising a new rig. Seeking assistance is admirable; not doing so is questionable; and doing a poor job may be inexcusable. Good luck.

Historically, a preferred vendor always "helped" a purchaser write the specifications. Being the chosen one makes that vendor extremely happy for obvious reasons needing no further elaboration. Although the practice of vendors writing purchasing specifications is commonplace, most on the fire side do not or will not address the issue. Those who believe the subject, if not broached, will quietly go away are sadly mistaken. Documented indiscretions, irregularities, and conflicts of interest in the public bidding arena abound. Whether having a potential bidder write purchasing specifications for a political subdivision is legally, ethically, or politically correct is a matter left to the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). It is not addressed herein.

A word of caution for fire departments: It may be immaterial whether a claim of wrongdoing is true or not. The mere seriousness of a charge made in the public arena may do irreparable damage to a fire department's reputation. Tread lightly and carefully in the legal purchasing arena. Municipal fiscal uncertainty, political correctness in the media, and aggressive marketing because of declining apparatus sales have changed the marketplace.


There are professional and degreed consultants who evaluate and prepare formal reports evaluating a community's fire protection resources that may include recommending purchases, fire station location, staffing, training, and so on. We are not talking about them. My definition of a fire apparatus consultant is one who advises on, writes specifications for, and recommends component parts for a fire truck purchase. In this article, a consultant and a specification writer (spec writer) are synonymous. Both are outsiders.

My interpretation of a spec writer is someone knowledgeable enough on a subject to put it to pen and paper in a manner understandable to all potential bidders. Spec writers are not necessarily consultants; they can be just scribes. Proficiency in the mechanics of proper grammar and not brutalizing the King's English notwithstanding, just who are these outsiders who write fire truck specifications? They've been called experts and consultants. A consultant can be an adviser, a mentor, and a counselor. An expert is considered someone who is proficient and knowledgeable. There are also pundits and commentators. A pundit can be a specialist or a guru. A commentator is a critic, an observer, and an analyst-it's a reporter-someone who is not generally held accountable. Who do you want to write your specifications-an expert, a pundit, a consultant, or a maharishi?

The point is that there is no single definition of who is a competent and capable fire apparatus spec writer. There are no written qualifications. There is no formal test to pass to become one. Acceptable qualifications are in the eyes of the beholder. Purchasers must determine the expertise they desire in a spec writer. If you are going to pick someone to help you spend a half a million to a million bucks on a fire truck, choose wisely. Hopefully, this article will help.


In addition to qualifications, purchasers should be explicit

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Posted: May 1, 2013

How Do You Secure Your Hose?

By David Durstine

Has your department ever laid large-diameter hose (LDH) down the freeway at 65 miles per hour (mph)? Have you ever dumped a crosslay onto the sidewalk while taking a corner? Well, I can tell you first hand that it happens when you least expect it, and it can be prevented.

My department, a small rural volunteer department in central Ohio, was en route to a vehicle fire one Sunday afternoon when a simple gust of wind lifted a section of four-inch hose up off the hosebed of our engine. Before we knew what had happened, we laid 1,000 feet of four-inch hose right down the middle of a busy county road at 55 mph. This came much to our surprise when following apparatus called on the radio to notify us that we had no LDH on our engine.

This type of incident typically would not have happened to my department, but just days before we had performed our annual hose testing and decided it would be okay to leave our hosebed cover off to allow any remaining moisture in the hose to dry. In my case, it ended with a disgruntled crew of firefighters rolling and reloading 1,000 feet of four-inch hose and a department understanding the importance of hose restraints-but it could have ended much differently.

Hose Restraints

Prior to 2006, the traditional North American-style hosebed rarely had anything to restrain the hose from falling off the sides or the back. In fact, we often saw loops of hose hanging off the back of the hosebed as if yearning to escape. As with my department's situation, once one length begins to drag on the road it is liable to keep on going. The more hose that comes off, the more friction there is to pull the rest of the hose out of the bed. And with each section connected, there can be a lot of hose dragging behind the truck without the driver ever being aware.

In the best case, the driver looks in his mirror and notices the ribbon of hose left behind the truck. And just like in my department's case, it is just an inconvenience and embarrassment to the crew. In the worst case, the hose will whip its way down the street, leaving mayhem in its wake. This is what happened on August 19, 2004, to two young girls and their mother when the Coraopolis (PA) Volunteer Fire Department unknowingly drove down the street trailing hose behind it.

It was this incident that prompted the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Apparatus Committee to initiate an immediate change to the NFPA 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus and NFPA 1906, Standard for Wildland Fire Apparatuss in January 2006. This mandate required each new apparatus to have a means of restraining hose, whether stored in the main hosebed, or anywhere else on the apparatus. Fire Apparatus Manufacturers Association (FAMA) companies scrambled to come up with an effective means of keeping the hose where it belongs during travel. Fire departments soon weighed in with their own ideas, and today hose restraints are available in any number of shapes, sizes, colors, and designs. Besides the simple nets or straps secured with clips or hook-and-loop material, departments can select metal, vinyl, or even roll-up covers.

Pre-2006 Apparatus

So what about all those apparatus that were manufactured prior to 2006? Many fire chiefs, like my chief, have recognized the need to update their older apparatus. Restraint solutions suitable for retrofit onto older apparatus are available from most FAMA companies. Alternately, department safety officers can work with local canvas, tent and awning, or boat cover shops to custom fit their hosebeds with satisfactory restraints.

Hose restraints had been around in limited use for many years but until 2006 were still optional equipment. There is a definite parallel here with the introduction of automotive safety devices such as seat belts and air bags. These, too, were optional equipment for years before they were mandated

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