WFC News

Posted: Aug 1, 2013

Tunnel Vision, Specs, and Rear Preconnects

Bill Adams

Tunnel vision, the loss of peripheral sight, is a constricted tunnel-like ability to see. Medically, it can be caused by glaucoma. In the fire service, complacency causes it-better defined as an extremely narrow point of view. It's common in old-timers, past-their-prime white coats, and occasionally those who write apparatus purchasing specifications (specs). Affecting vendors as well as firefighters, it's a predetermined prejudiced outlook on any change from the status quo. Severe cases provoke that embarrassing, denigrating, but sometimes factual statement of "200 years of tradition unimpeded by progress." Look no further than a pumper's hosebed and, in particular, at rear preconnect storage.

Stowage-wise, little has changed since preconnected collapsible hose replaced booster lines for initial attack-crosslays and speedlays being exceptions. The recent trend to eliminate traditional pump houses with alternative pump locations has seen a renewed awareness and usage of rear preconnects, probably from necessity rather than choice. Advantages and detriments of crosslays, speedlays, reel storage, and front bumper lays are left for another day.

This Spartan-ERV has three removable aluminum hose storage trays
(1) This Spartan-ERV has three removable aluminum hose storage
trays. Two hose storage areas are located above the trays and two to
the right of the trays. Stainless steel rollers facilitate removal and
reloading. (Photo courtesy of Alan Smith, a Spartan-ERV dealer.)

No preference is shown for the quantities, sizes, and lengths of rear preconnects or for the methods of loading and deploying them. Whether they are packed flat or on edge; one tier wide or two tiers wide; or in a reverse horseshoe, pull-and-dump, or shoulder load configuration is a local matter. Do what's best for your department. This article looks at various locations to store rear preconnects and the importance of specifying them in a clear and understandable manner.

The Bidding Process

Not all fire departments are mandated to follow governmental bidding protocols. Some political subdivisions give fire departments extraordinary leeway in writing purchasing specifications and recommending bid awards. However, in most scenarios, the fire department writes the technical specification and the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) finalizes the legalities and makes the legal purchase. If the fire department does a lousy job writing the spec, it stands the chance of getting a lousy rig. The same applies to hose storage for preconnects.

An AHJ, especially one not firematically oriented or fire department friendly, can award a bid to a vendor just meeting the written word of the specification. That AHJ may have no concern or little care for what the fire department expected, really wanted, or thought it specified. In political subdivisions, the AHJ is legally obligated to ensure competitive bidding statutes are followed. Be careful. Today's public bidding environment has changed. Vendors are aggressive. Vote-conscious politicians, bureaucrats apprehensive about personal job security, fiscally conservative watchdog groups, and economically strapped taxpayers may not care what the fire department likes, dislikes, or thought it wrote. Specification verbiage, or lack of it, weighs heavily in awarding a contract. Write carefully.

Comprehensive Specifications

It's important to write understandable and definitive purchasing specifications when describing any hosebed. It's imperative when addressing nontraditional storage. Not doing so can cause turmoil when evaluating proposals and may create ill feelings between the fire de

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Posted: Aug 1, 2013

Number of Engine Options for Fire Apparatus Shrinking

By Chris Mc Loone

In a way, recent news from Navistar makes specing engines for your next fire apparatus purchase simpler than ever. It was an unpublicized business decision that I only learned of by accident when I was visiting with an apparatus manufacturer recently. I asked if the company was receiving more specs with Navistar MaxxForce engines or Cummins engines. The representative replied that Navistar just announced it was exiting the loose engine business. So with that answer, it's obvious that it doesn't matter what the split is between the two companies-your only engine option if you choose to buy a custom fire truck is Cummins if you don't choose Pierce. Because, almost concurrently with Navistar's announcement, Pierce released that it has extended its agreement with Detroit through 2018. Through 2018, the Detroit DD13 engine remains available only on Pierce's complete line of custom fire and emergency vehicles.

The Navistar news surprised me. It's not like the company is just getting out of loose engine sales for fire apparatus. The company is no longer selling loose engines at all, choosing to install the engines on the commercial chassis it produces. So technically if a fire department really prefers MaxxForce engines, it can still get them by specing commercial chassis for its apparatus. It will lose the cab customization options but will get the engine it wants.

But to me, Navistar was making a lot of noise in the fire apparatus market. Judging from a number of recent deliveries in our Apparatus Showcase and orders in our Recent Orders section, it was starting to make some inroads. I don't think there are many among us that wouldn't rather have more choices than fewer regarding our fire trucks. So, ultimately, the fire apparatus market is the casualty of a bigger business decision.

That is not to say that the news is bad that Cummins is now set to gain a greater market share in the fire apparatus arena. The company was proud to announce its 2013 line of engines at the 2013 Fire Department Instructors Conference, and, as you'll see in this issue's "Fire Industry Today," Cummins is also very active in working toward a solution to comply with the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Direct Final Rule regarding how engines respond to neglected regenerations.

All this said, I'm a little disappointed that there aren't more choices. I wouldn't mind seeing Mack get back into the act and start selling engines to the fire service without having to purchase a Mack cab and chassis-or maybe Ford. I think choice and competition are good for the market. Of course, fire apparatus make up such a small part of the overall market for these engine manufacturers that it's unlikely we'll see that sort of change from Mack or Ford.

Tanker Rollovers

With the hopes of avoiding tanker rollovers, the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) has produced a new version of the Cargo Tank Rollover Prevention Video it developed with the United States Department of Transportation to help educate water tanker drivers on the special characteristics of tank truck vehicles and the actions they can take to avoid rollovers. The video can be viewed at, where it can also be downloaded.

Tragedy Strikes

As I write this, the fire service is reeling from the largest loss of life at a fire since September 11, 2001. We lost 19 firefighters to the Yarnell, Arizona, wildfire. Nineteen firefighters losing their lives at one time boggles the mind. Exact details have been scarce; however, multiple news outlets report that conditions deteriorated to the point that these members of the elite "Hot Shots" firefighting group had to deploy their fire shelters. It is a sobering reminder that although we write constantly in these pages and online about how far

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Posted: Aug 1, 2013

Industrial Facility Protection Calls for High Flows and Foam Capacity

Alan M. Petrillo

Fire departments and fire brigades in industrial facilities around the country face the prospect of protecting huge complexes and having the proper resources available to fight fires in large, high-hazard facilities. Refineries, tank farms, chemical plants, and other big industrial sites share a common need in what they seek from apparatus manufacturers-the ability to flow a lot of water, quickly, with a lot of reach.

This custom industrial pumper was built by E-ONE for the Yanpet Fire Department in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
(1) This custom industrial pumper was built by E-ONE for the Yanpet
Fire Department in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It has a 3,000-gpm pump, a
1,030-gallon foam tank, a 500-gallon water tank, a 2,000- to
5,000-gpm deck gun, two rear deck guns capable of 2,000 gpm each, a
2,000-pound dry chemical system, and a ultra-high-pressure (UHP)
(Photo courtesy of E-ONE.)

Higher-Flow Waterways

Chad Trinkner, Pierce Manufacturing's director of product development for aerials, pumpers, and fire suppression, says Pierce has seen an increase in requests for elevated waterways that can handle a high water flow. "Refineries and other industrial customers are looking for up to 4,000-gallon-per-minute (gpm) waterways," Trinkner says. "They want to protect silo-like structures and need to elevate in order to put up a foam wall to protect such exposures."

But, higher waterway flows mean bigger reaction forces, Trinkner points out, which can threaten the stability of an aerial. "We're in the process of building two models, a 75-foot and a 53-foot version that have a 4,000-gpm waterway but still maintain the stability of the aerial," he says.

Jim Salmi, senior director of global aerial products for Spartan ERV, agrees that big flow volumes are driving industrial apparatus purchases. "The typical need is to get very large flow volumes going, especially to provide protection in the case of tank fires," Salmi says. "These units have to establish a large flow of foam solution, usually out of a 2,000- to 3,000-gpm elevated master stream appliance."

Refineries have large water supplies and good residual pressure, Salmi maintains, which allow them to get very good fire stream flows. He notes that Spartan ERV has upsized the waterways on its industrial aerials to reduce the amount of friction loss in the system. "On a 100-foot platform, we normally would have a five-inch outside diameter waterway, but with an industrial aerial, we use a six-inch outside diameter waterway, which means it [has a] 5¾-inch inside diameter," he says. "We wanted to reduce restrictions to the flow, which largely are based on the speed of the water-foam solution going through the system."

Salmi notes that a large number of industrial customers prefer an aerial platform to an aerial ladder "because a platform has greater strength to handle large water flows and you can get dual monitors on a platform, while ladders only carry single guns."

Brad Williamson, industrial products manager for Ferrara Fire Apparatus, says that although his company has produced quite a few industrial aerials-both platforms and ladders-it is starting to push an articulating concept aerial device. "It's a three-section 85-foot articulating boom that has an eight-inch waterway that reduces to six inches on the swivel knuckles for each section," he says. "It carries a Williams Fire & Hazard Control Ranger Three-Plus 4,000-gpm monitor and gives unrestricted flow no matter where the boom is positioned."

Chuck Gl

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Posted: Jul 17, 2013

Surplus Equipment For Sale

Yakima County Fire District 5

1996 - Zodiac Grand Raid Mark 3 Rescue Boat - $4500

For more information please see the attached details/photos or contact our admin office at 509.829.5111.

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Posted: Jul 15, 2013

Annual Pump Testing, Important or Inconvenient?

Fire engines provide the movement of our most important resources, firefighters and water. A worn or damaged fire pump can have significant impact on water flow and the firefighting capabilities without showing any apparent signs of trouble to the operator on lower flow incidents. Without an efficient, effective, and reliable means to move water from point A to point B our performance and the outcome of the incident can be unsatisfactory. Testing department pumpers annually is the only acceptable way to verify your pump’s state of readiness and should be considered very important to your fleet maintenance program...

What do the changes in state code really mean? Has anything really changed? Our codes have told us in the past that we shall follow NFPA, the NFPA then told us how to perform the testing and that we shall also follow the manufacturer specification, then manufacturer specification tells us to test our pumps using NFPA 1911. So really nothing has changed but language, in the end we still need to follow the manufacturer instructions for inspection, maintenance, and testing of our equipment and pump tests are still required. All fire rated pump builders state that the pumps need to be tested on an annual basis; in addition to that, some models with other options have guidelines for the inspection of those systems as well. All of these tests can be performed by a qualified mechanic or individual that has been trained and obtained the appropriate certifications. 

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