WFC News

Posted: Aug 2, 2013

Five Questions for Chris Ferrara, President and CEO of Ferrara Fire Apparatus

Chris Mc Loone

CM: How has the F-Shield been received and what led to its development?

CF: It was really a unique theory and process. We all thought, looking at the fire industry, that we really wanted to come up with something that could have a dynamic impact on the fire service throughout the country.

One thing we have seen year after year-that a lot of the frame rails are deteriorating and rusting. So, we reached out to fire departments across the country and found that that is really a growing problem. With some of the corrosive materials they use for salting roads and deicing roads, it's really playing havoc on a lot of the understructure of fire trucks, mainly in the northeast but really all across the country with some of the issues even in the south with salt conditions around Florida and the Gulf Coast areas.

We did some research and we found this product that we think is going to set the bar to solving the rust and corrosion of frame rails. As you know, fire departments have to keep fire trucks longer than any other time before with the tough economy. So, we came out with this idea and it seems to be taking off by storm. I think we set the bar and I think it's going to be a great savings and a mechanic's dream working on these trucks as the trucks get older.

CM: What is the biggest issue in the fire service today and what is Ferrara doing to address it?

CF: I think the biggest issue is the funding-whether it's firefighters getting laid off or funding to purchase equipment. I think we really have a tremendous problem across the world of helping fund fire departments so they can maintain their services. That's a big concern to me and I'm sure it's a big concern to a lot of fire departments. Every time we see our U.S. congressmen [or] our U.S. senators, we tell them day in and day out that they have got to help fund this fire service program. So any time we can reach out to any of our politicians or anyone that will listen to us, we spread the word that we have to have additional help in the fire service to help promote fire safety across the country and help support these fire departments.

CM: What is the most important product Ferrara makes?

CF: That's a tough question. We build so many different products. We're so diverse in building rescues to aerials to specialty units, but what really sets us apart is that we are still a custom builder today. Customers love what we do where we can sit down with a customer and say, "What best fits your needs?" If you want a special compartment size, a special length of body, a special length of chassis, we can do it. It really makes a big difference in my mind that the customer really wants what he wants and why he wants it. And, we want to give it to him and fulfill his needs. So, the most important product is all the products we manufacture. Because whether it's a rescue or an aerial, it's a heavy duty product. We really set the bar of building the heaviest product out there. As Peter [JØrgensen] would say, we have more extrusions in our body. I was nicknamed Mr. Heavy Duty by him many years ago, and we have stuck to that tradition.

CM: What's next for Ferrara?

CF: We are constantly looking for new ideas and new ways to make the product better and last longer. We're known to come up with different innovations and we really like to show our customers how the trucks are built from the inside out. So, you'll see at some of the major trade shows that we actually bring an unfinished body on one side and a painted body on the other side so we can show customers how our product is built from the inside out. The number one goal as we move forward is finding ways to enhance the product to last a lot longer given the restraints of the economy today. But not only that, also making the product safer for the fire departments. Our n

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Posted: Aug 2, 2013

More on Buyer Beware

By Robert Tutterow

In last month's column, I shared the story of a sales representative for a thermal imaging camera (TIC) manufacturer complaining about National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1801, Standard on Thermal Imagers for the Fire Service (2013 ed.). He was lamenting that the standard had caused a huge price increase-a statement later refuted by fire service members of the NFPA 1801 technical committee. They were quick to say that the price increases he mentioned were very inflated and the changes in the thermal imager standard were fire service-driven.

It is appropriate that we take a look at some of the changes that were driven by the fire service-not the manufacturers. There are three broad categories of change: usability and interoperability, image quality, and durability.

Usability and Interoperability

The unit must have a green power button and have a way to attach to the firefighter. It must have a basic mode that allows for a firefighter to quickly use any manufacturer's TIC without additional training, limiting the display to a digital temperature readout, temperature bar, and heat-indicating color with a reference color scale. Any additional features are to be found in a plus mode. Activating the plus mode requires a special action separate from the power switch. The reasoning behind the special action to engage the plus mode is to prevent firefighters from inadvertently accessing features for which they have not been trained.

Image Quality

There are a minimum field of vision and minimum requirements for thermal sensitivity, and the unit must have an effective temperature range. It must also pass a very important image recognition test. The requirements for image quality were based on a study conducted through the NFPA's Fire Protection Research Foundation under the guidance of a fire service-driven technical panel, which did not include any manufacturers. Five manufacturers were project sponsors.


The unit must pass intrinsic safety requirements. It must pass multiple drop tests as well as pass heat-resistance tests and flame tests. There is a 24-hour durability test that subjects the unit to temperature extremes, water tightness, and a tumbling. Once the 24-hour test is complete, the unit must still pass the image recognition test.

Standard Evolution

This is a great example of how NFPA standards evolve. There are several thermal imagers on the market. They are used by the military, law enforcement, building inspectors, and other nonfire agencies. Why should the fire service accept an inferior product that is not designed for its intended use? Do we get our ground ladders from the local hardware store? The fire service insisted that thermal imagers meet a standard of design and performance for the fire service environment. The requirements are not manufacturer-driven.

Buyer Caveats

Buyers should be aware of the wording used by some manufacturers to sell their products. For example, the following are suspect statements:

• NFPA Approved. The NFPA does not approve any product.

• NFPA Certified. The NFPA does not certify products.

• Meets NFPA requirements.

• Designed to meet NFPA requirements.

Always look for the independent third party testing label that states the product is compliant with the applicable NFPA standard. Also, buyers should be aware of the current edition of the NFPA standard that applies to the product they are intending to buy and purchase a product that is compliant with the latest edition.

Informed buyers will have a familiarity with the applicable NFPA standard. NFPA standards can now be accessed at no charge online through RealRead. Standards cannot be printed or downloaded. Informed buyers should also be aware of the NFPA standards-making process. Keep in mind that NFPA

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Posted: Aug 2, 2013

WASP, GLANSER Systems Continuing Development

Alan M. Petrillo

Two prototype firefighter locating systems are inexorably making their way through testing and refinements with the aim of producing field units usable on fire scenes sometime in the near future.

The Wearable Advanced Sensor Platform (WASP), under development by Globe Manufacturing Inc., is a system that combines physiological monitoring with location tracking of a firefighter, while the Geospatial Location Accountability and Navigation System for Emergency Responders (GLANSER) is designed as a tracking and location system. GLANSER is being built by Honeywell First Responder Products and the United States Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate.


Mark Mordecai, Globe Manufacturing's director of business development, says that although Globe has been working on WASP since 2006, there has been a lot of action in the past 18 months that makes it a promising project. "The first step was in garment development because in order to do physiological monitoring, you have to have a garment that can be worn for a 24-hour stretch," he says. "We had to develop new textiles to replace the cotton T-shirt that would be wearable, stretch, and integrate the electronic strap assembly."

Mordecai notes the physiological sensors are very flat and must be in contact with a firefighter's skin. "There's a two-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor that measures heart and breathing rate; an acceleration sensor that measures work; and a gyro that tells posture, like crawling, standing, sitting, or flat on your back," he says. "They are in a puck that's connected to the shirt, which manages the Bluetooth data communications coming from the shirt. The key part is getting the data out of the building and transmitted to another device."

A tracking unit worn on the belt of a firefighter's bunker pants transmits information about the firefighter's location. "Right now it's about the size of two decks of cards," Mordecai says. "A one-deck size will be the next iteration."

Mordecai says the two sensor systems transmit their data through an integrated Motorola APX radio that has a digital side channel for data. "The puck on the shirt transmits its data to the tracking unit on the belt, which sends a combined tracking packet over the APX radio, which currently has only one Bluetooth receiver, to a command station-basically a laptop with a receiver," he points out.

WASP can also transmit over Android cell phones, which have a bigger pipe to carry more data, Mordecai notes. Both the puck and the tracking unit can communicate through cell phones to a command station.

Globe has conducted a half dozen WASP fire simulation trials with fire academies and departments around the country. The first was with the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI), then the Atlanta (GA) Fire Department, the Fairfax (VA) Fire Department, the Annapolis (MD) Fire Department, and Texas A&M's Texas Engineering Extension (TEEX). Trials varied from one- to two-day test sessions.

"As a system, the product isn't commercial yet," Mordecai says. "We are identifying beta sites to use WASP where we will get information on its use from the fire department's point of view. We want to know how they'll use it in training, who would wear WASP, how it will be used, and which data they found useful."

Mordecai says the WASP beta site deployments will happen during the next 12 months. "The really good news is that a lot is happening with WASP," he says. "It takes a long time for this kind of technology to get ramped up, but we're starting to see a lot more come out the end of the hose."


GLANSER can track and locate firefighters within multistory buildings, indicating the room they are in, th

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Posted: Aug 2, 2013

Cost Recovery for Hazmat Incidents

By Richard Marinucci

Any organization responsible for responding to hazmat incidents is well aware of the challenges to develop and sustain the program. For fire departments that accept this as part of their core responsibilities, or even if they are resigned to the fact that they are likely to be the ones called to respond, the pursuit of competence is never ending and constantly evolving. Personnel must be recruited and trained, and equipment must be acquired and maintained.

Hazmat Team Models

Just as the fire service has many different models for organization, the same applies to hazmat response teams. They could be part of a single, usually larger, county or metropolitan department or a regional team. With respect to funding for a team, it does not matter how it is formed and organized. To initiate and sustain a team, a department needs money. Response to hazmat incidents requires the appropriate equipment. This has evolved in that there are more requirements for specialty items specific to potential hazards that are found. So in addition to the equipment needed, departments must obtain more varieties of it.

Organizations need to ramp up teams for response. There is an initial investment that provides for basic capabilities. Once a team is established, there are regular and routine requirements to preserve the resources at hand and to acquire additional tools as hazards and technology change. This should be funded through the normal budget process and can be supplemented with grants and other funding sources such as private donations. If an organization or group of organizations elects to prepare to respond to hazmat incidents, they must do so in accordance with an acceptable standard such as those published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The point here is that the startup and operational costs must be borne by the organization.

Cost Recovery

From this point on, it is possible to maintain the capabilities of the team through user fees or cost recovery. Once a department establishes the core skills and services, a vast majority of the funding can be acquired through a billing system that requires those that created the incident to pay for the response. In essence, any equipment that was used can be replaced, personnel costs can be recovered, and administrative fees can be included. The team's capabilities can be maintained by recovering from the responsible party all that contributed to the response.

Cost recovery is as much about making a policy decision as it is about developing a procedure as to how it will work. As such, it is a political issue that elected bodies must decide. With the recent financial pressures on local governments, most people are looking to alternative funding methods, including cost recovery. Yet, some communities are not philosophically on board with charging for service. They believe that taxes should pay for anything government does and if there are no funds then the service isn't provided. The purpose here is not to debate the merits but to reinforce that a community's policymakers must make this decision. Obviously, organizations can influence the decision and must understand their role in offering opinions and engaging in the necessary political issues.

Becoming Apolitical

Once this political issue is resolved, cost recovery must become apolitical. Response must be consistent and unbiased. Everyone gets the same level of service and everyone must pay accordingly. Being friends with the mayor should not exempt anyone from cost recovery efforts. No matter their connections, they should be treated the same way all the way through the incident to the final resolution of cost recovery. As such, teams must establish a policy for pursuing outstanding invoices. The simplest approach is to require payment unless the legal system says otherwise. This means that organiz

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Posted: Aug 2, 2013

Innovation Drives Steady, Rapid Growth at Husky

Chris Mc Loone

Any company aspires to be the best at what it does and to achieve number one status in the markets it serves. Husky® Portable Containment is no different and has enjoyed a very successful eight years in business. The company has experienced steady growth since its inception in 2005. "Last year we sold over 30 percent more folding tanks than the previous year," says Jay Claeys, owner and president of the company. "This year is already on pace to eclipse last year's mark."

The Start

Claeys has been in the portable water tank industry for 22 years, and he founded Husky in December 2004. In January 2005, he began putting the shop together, ordered machines, and found vendors. "And then I started making sales calls," recalls Claeys. "We sold our first folding frame tank in March 2005, so it really didn't take long. But, there was a lot of R&D time from January 1 to March 1."

Claeys says that the first year was a little slow, but in 2006 the company's folding frame tank really took off, and Husky has gained sales every year since. "Our growth has been steady and rapid, and one of the reasons has been the loyal distributorships we have acquired over the last eight years," he says. "Our new product innovations have also been a huge part of putting Husky on the map."

The company's first facility was located in Skiatook, Oklahoma. Shortly after, Husky moved to Dewey, Oklahoma, and a 12,000-square-foot facility that the company has outgrown. It will soon be moving to a brand new 20,000-square-foot plant in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. "We're still such a young company," asserts Claeys. "Even though we're in our ninth year, I'd call us in our sophomore year. We still have a long way to go to build our brand name. We're growing every year. That's how the City of Bartlesville gave us all these incentives. They gave us the land. It's a grant. And they're helping us with money. If you're not growing, you're dying, and we need to keep growing and growing."

The most important thing, according to Claeys, about expanding is to get more product out the door with better lead times to allow the company to move to the next level of growth.

Firefighters use Husky's patent-pending Easy Lift Handles to easily remove any standing water in the tank and to fold it during a water shuttle class. The handles are welded onto the floor of folding tank liners
(1) Firefighters use Husky's patent-pending Easy Lift Handles to
easily remove any standing water in the tank and to fold it during a
water shuttle class. The handles are welded onto the floor of folding
tank liners. (Photos courtesy of Husky Portable Containment.)

Two Divisions

Although folding frame tanks are Husky's core products, the business is diversified. "We build [folding tanks] every day and ship them every day," says Claeys. "But, as the first and second years progressed, we developed more and more products. We sell a lot of salvage covers. Then we got into this environmental business and that started really taking off. So even though folding frames are still our core product, we do a lot of other things."

To that end, the company is divided into two divisions: Firefighting Products and Environmental Safety Products. Its firefighting products include folding frame tanks and portable tank racks, self-supporting tanks, aluminum quick assembly tanks, and decon pools and showers. "We also manufacture salvage covers, hosebed and crosslay covers, staging mats, and RIT tarps. Our floating and low-level strainer sales have been increasing as well,&

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