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The purpose of the Fire Mechanics Section is to promote standardization of fire apparatus and equipment preventative maintenance, improve safety standards and practices, promote workshops, conferences, and seminars related to the purposes of this Section, and to promote cost savings through standardization of building and equipment purchasing and maintenance.

RECENT FIRE MECHANIC NEWS

Posted: Jul 8, 2013

Buyer, Beware

By Robert Tutterow

This year's Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) did not disappoint with the number of exhibitors and attendees. However, one very disconcerting thing was seeing several items of personal protective equipment (PPE) that were not compliant with the applicable National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard. This was particularly true with gloves, hoods, and footwear. Perhaps more disturbing were manufacturers offering a choice in products-some of which were NFPA-compliant and some of which were not NFPA-compliant.

Fire Service-Driven

A fire department has a moral and legal obligation to purchase NFPA-compliant items. All firefighting PPE is required to be third-party tested and certified. PPE is life safety equipment, and the third party certification means the product has been manufactured to design and performance standards that the fire service has determined to be acceptable. Whoa-did I say the fire service made that determination? Yes. Technically, the minimum standards are developed by the NFPA standards development process. However, in actuality, they are driven by the fire service.

Many people are quick to say that NFPA standards are manufacturer-driven. Having served on three NFPA technical committees and one NFPA correlating committee, I can say with absolute certainty that the fire service is the driver in standards development and revision. This is especially true with controversial issues. Once the fire service reaches agreement on an issue in a standard, almost all the nonfire service voting members will quickly fall in line. The real struggle is getting the fire service to reach a consensus opinion.

Not Out of Reach

One encounter with a vendor at FDIC was particularly revealing. This person accused the NFPA of penalizing the fire service with NFPA 1801, Standard on Thermal Imagers for the Fire Service (2013 ed.). The sales representative blasted the technical committee for setting requirements that were pricing the thermal imagers out of reach for most fire departments. He went on to say that the new prices were higher than what is allowed by the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

Serendipitously, I ran into the former chair and another member of the NFPA technical committee, who were part of the NFPA 1801 revision, shortly after my encounter with the thermal imager vendor. I shared this story with them, both of whom are fire service people. They were quick to dismiss the vendor's comments. In fact, they said the new pricing is not nearly as high as the sale representative was claiming it is. Both of these technical committee members were well aware of all the thermal imagers currently on the market.

Stay Informed

Buyers, beware of salespeople blaming price increases on NFPA standards. There is no doubt that establishing minimum standards will likely increase the price of a product. For example, Gary Handwerk's article from the August 2008 edition of Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment underscores this point. NFPA 1901, Standard for Automotive Apparatus (2009 ed.), was about to be released with many new safety requirements. Some were speculating that the changes would add as much as $20,000 to the cost of a fire apparatus. Handwerk did an item-by-item breakdown of the new requirements and found the cost to be about $8,000. By the way, have you noticed the reduction in firefighter line-of-duty deaths from apparatus accidents in the past few years?

As Mark Twain said, "If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're misinformed." When it comes to fire equipment-verify the information you receive, and always be informed.

ROBERT TUTTEROW retired as safety coordinator for the Charlotte (NC) Fire Department and is a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board.

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Posted: Jul 8, 2013

Apparatus Specs, Adverbs, and Adjectives: What Do You "Really" Mean?

Bill Adams

Although some may deny partaking in the process and probably will publically renounce the practice, most fire departments write apparatus purchasing specifications (specs) around a preferred manufacturer-usually with the help of the local vendor. It's a common occurrence. Get over it. I do not favor or condone it, and this article will not address it. This is directed at purchasers who, in good faith, attempt to write "open" specifications in an honest attempt to solicit competitive bids for a new fire truck. Use caution. You might be confusing potential bidders by unnecessarily using meaningless adjectives and flattering adverbs in your document.

An adjective describes or modifies the subject of a sentence. In the sentence "I want a glass of water," water is the subject. In "I want a glass of warm water," warm is the adjective. It gives additional information about the subject. It's grammatically correct. An adverb enhances the adjective, giving further information about it. In "I want a very warm glass of water," very is the adverb. It also is an acceptable method of writing.

However, when writing fire apparatus specifications, if that additional information cannot be defined, measured, and compared, it is useless. It has no value. If words do not give clarity and specificity to the subject, leave them out or confusion, misunderstanding, and undue embarrassment can result. Apparatus manufacturers often use descriptive adjectives and complimentary adverbs to give a favorable impression of their product. That's life. Live with it. Outside specification writers may do likewise, perhaps to make their document look professional. Occasionally, fire departments will inadvertently use an indefinable description. All three may be clouding the subject and hindering the competitive bidding process. There's no room for descriptive adjectives and adverbs in fire apparatus purchasing specifications.

Competitive Bidding

In competitive bidding, a purchaser describes in measurable terms what it desires. The description must be quantifiable to potential bidders. It is imperative that purchasers be able to fairly evaluate and accurately compare what is being proposed to what was specified. If that process cannot be followed, you are wasting your time and the bidders'. How can you determine compliance to a requirement you can't define? The importance of writing a comprehensible description of what you want cannot be overestimated. Vague and indecipherable words and descriptions in a purchasing specification are the first steps in compromising the intent of the competitive bidding process.

The Marketplace

The fire apparatus marketplace is unstable. New apparatus sales have been reported off by 30 to 50 percent. When business was thriving, vendors (manufacturers, dealers, and salespeople) often did not bid against competitors' proprietary specifications, nor did they submit proposals for vague and unclear specifications. In the case of bidding on a competitor's spec, the success rate is somewhere between slim and none. In the case of vague specifications, bidders may have to expend an inordinate amount of time trying to decipher or guess what the fire department really wants or means.

Today many vendors are aggressive; they are hungry. Some may be brash enough to question a purchaser's written word-once considered blasphemous in the fire service. Some may tender a proposal equally as vague and unclear as the published purchasing specifications. How do you handle that scenario?

Accountability

The first lesson in Fire Truck Selling 101 was to never challenge the customer. That may no longer be the case. First, many vendors are forced to do so for economic survival. Second, and in my opinion, it appears new breeds of "determined" salespeople are entering the marketplace. Thi

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Posted: Jul 8, 2013

Seasonal Changes

By Richard Marinucci

Often little things that occur during an incident determine the overall effectiveness and success of the operation. Departments should pursue continual improvement in and must look at every aspect of their operations to see where incremental improvements can be made. One area to consider is the differences presented with changing seasons. Although not necessarily a major consideration, there are some things that change as summer temperatures increase. This would be true regardless of whether you are in the desert areas of Arizona, where there is little transition from winter to spring, or in the northern part of the country where there are more defined seasons.

Climate changes affect personnel, apparatus, and equipment. They also can present different emergencies to which departments respond. Therefore, it is prudent to review operations as the seasons change just to make sure everyone is on the same page. Complacency must not creep into the organization or its members because this will impact the quality of service provided and could affect firefighter health and safety. This is not a major challenge to an organization but one that warrants specific review to pay attention to the little details that determine the level of service provided.

Apparatus and Equipment

Increasing temperatures may adversely affect apparatus and equipment if crews do not follow manufacturer-recommended practices. It is a good idea to review owner's manuals and perform routine maintenance as seasons change. Review operating apparatus and equipment relative to summer conditions, especially equipment only used during very warm months. It may also be appropriate to check on items that do not need to be carried on the vehicle. For example, ice melting chemicals and salt no longer need to be on vehicles during the summer in cold-weather states and can be stored until the next season change.

Although not all apparatus has air conditioning, it has become almost a necessity in many organizations. As an example, departments providing EMS transport probably require this feature for the benefit of those receiving treatment. It also can provide an area for firefighter rehabilitation when operating in high temperatures. You need to make sure it is working properly long before it is needed.

In many fire departments, the threat of relatively small grass and brush fires exists during warmer months. As such, equipment for these incidents is not part of the standard furnishings year round. If this is the case, the equipment needs to be checked to make sure it is in the proper working condition and placed on apparatus in locations for the best access. A review of all equipment is necessary, even if brief in nature. Simple steps make sure all the bases are covered and personnel are prepared to do the best possible job.

Personnel Performance

Summer conditions can affect personnel performance as well as health and well-being. Excessive heat and humidity will warrant shorter work periods and appropriate rehabilitation time. This is not earth-shattering news, but a reminder is appropriate on occasion. Also remind personnel about the signs and symptoms of various heat-related illnesses. Firefighters not only need to consider their own situations but also should look out for the rest of their crew.

One item not often considered is sunscreen. If members are working in the direct sun, especially midday with exposed skin, you should do whatever you can to offer protection. This can be by covering up, sunscreen, or short stints of exposure. Again, this is not a big issue in the overall scheme of things but can be helpful when protecting personnel. Finally, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! This is important throughout the day, not just during an incident. All of this also applies to training that takes place outside. There are examples of firefighters suffering adverse

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Posted: Jul 8, 2013

Wildland Apparatus Run Gamut from Wildfire Units to Urban Interface Rigs

Alan M. Petrillo

Developments in wildland urban interface (WUI) apparatus have taken a page from businesses that use customer satisfaction surveys and feedback, incorporating changes and modifications into rigs that firefighters and fire departments see as necessary to make their jobs easier and safer on the front lines of wildland fires.

Structure and Wildland Duties

Chad Trinkner, marketing manager of pumpers, fire suppression and aerial products for Pierce Manufacturing Inc., says that Pierce has seen an emphasis on maneuverable wildland units that can double as urban interface vehicles to fight structure fires or protect exposures when necessary. "Pierce makes Type I, II, and III urban interface and wildland vehicles on custom or commercial chassis," Trinkner says, "often customizing a vehicle to a very specific body design as we do for the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM)."

Trinkner notes that the BLM vehicle, called a Model 62, is a spinoff of the United States Forest Service's (USFS) Model 34 Type III wildland apparatus with its own body design that can hold a spare tire, a different pump capacity, and space "so the vehicle is prepped for everything, and the crew will be able to live out of the apparatus."

A Type III wildland apparatus typically carries 500 gallons of water, a pump with a minimum capacity of 150 gallons per minute (gpm), and 1,000 feet of 1½-inch and 500 feet of one-inch hose. "We've built Type III wildland vehicles with water tanks of up to 600 gallons and Type IV rigs with 750 gallons of water," Trinkner notes. Type IV apparatus have less hose and pump capacity requirements than Type IIIs.

Doug Kelley, wildland product manager for KME, says recent developments in pumps and in remote turrets have improved the performance of wildland vehicles. "The big thing that KME focuses on is pump-and-roll capability, where we have developed pumping systems with dual impellers and single manifolds that allow for low- and high-pressure systems," Kelley says. "We can get 100 gpm at 150 pounds per square inch (psi) at engine idle or, with a four-wheel-drive vehicle, can crawl along in low range and expend water and class A foam on a fire."

national wildfire coordinating group engine typing

KME delivers that pump-and-roll capability chiefly through its Ridgerunner apparatus, designed as a WUI vehicle that can handle both structure and wildland fires. Ridgerunner is available on an International 7400 chassis and carries a Hale 1,500-gpm pump that provides 100 gpm at 150 psi for pump-and-roll situations, an 800-gallon Poly tank, a 20-gallon foam cell, and a FoamPro 2001 direct-injection foam system.

Scott Oyen, vice president of sales for Rosenbauer, says that urban interface pumpers meeting all the criteria as Type I units also can make effective wildland apparatus. "Those that meet the Type I, II, and III classifications might be able to get Insurance Services Organization (ISO) rating points for the fire department," he points out. "That's where our Timberwolf fits in, built on an International 4400 four-door 4x4 chassis with a 500-gpm Darley JSP fire pump, 500 gallons of water, extended front bumper with crosslay, remote bumper turret, high-pressure booster reels in the cab steps, and rescue tool storage.

Pierce Manufacturing built this Type III wildland vehicle for the Alameda County Fire Department on an International Navistar chassis with a 500-gpm Darley pump and a 500-gallon water tank.
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Fire Mechanics Section Board

Chair

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Chair

Elliot Courage
North Whatcom Fire & Rescue
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Vice Chair

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Vice Chair

Mike Smith 
Pierce County Fire District #5
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Secretary

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Secretary

Justin Claibourn
Central Pierce Fire & Rescue 
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Director #1

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #1

Loren Angiono 
City of Lynnwood
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Director #2

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #2

Paul Spencer 
Fire Fleet Maintenance LLC
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Director #3

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #3

Larry Elliott
Olympia Fire Department
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Director #4

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #4

Doug Jones
City of Redmond
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Director #6

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #6

Brett Annear
Kitsap County Fire District 18
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Director #5

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #5

Jay Jacks
Camano Island Fire & Rescue
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Legislative Representative

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Legislative Representative

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TBD
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Immediate Past Chair

Posted: Oct 20, 2015

Immediate Past Chair

Brian Fortner
Graham Fire & Rescue

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