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Posted: Nov 12, 2013

Taking Apparatus Inspection to a New Level

Alan M. Petrillo

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1911, Standard for the Inspection, Maintenance, Testing and Retirement of In-Service Automotive Fire Apparatus, (2012 ed.) might be one of the most important documents a fire department has on its shelf of rules, regulations, and operating procedures, according to one apparatus inspection specialist. NFPA 1911 (2007 ed.) combined for the first time NFPA 1911, Standard for Service Tests of Fire Pump Systems on Fire Apparatus; NFPA 1914, Standard for Testing Fire Department Aerial Devices; and NFPA 1915, Standard for Fire Apparatus Preventive Maintenance Program. According to NFPA 1911's origin and development section, the organization changed "service test" to "performance test," and new testing requirements were added for the apparatus chassis, low-voltage electrical system, foam proportioning system, compressed air foam system (CAFS), line voltage electrical, and breathing air compressor system.

Chapter one's sentence 1.1.1 states that "This standard defines the minimum requirements for establishing an inspection, maintenance, and testing program for in-service fire apparatus." Sentence 1.2.1 states that, "The primary purpose of this standard is to provide requirements for an inspection, maintenance, and testing program that will ensure that in-service fire apparatus are serviced and maintained to keep them in safe operating condition and ready for response at all times." One company at the forefront of providing inspection programs that comply with NFPA 1911 is Sunbelt Fire, based in Fairhope, Alabama.

Neil Clark, service sales manager for Sunbelt Fire, says that although chiefs aren't stampeding to his door to hand him orders for apparatus testing, "It's interesting to note that we're getting business from all types of fire departments. There are departments that see the value in this testing, and we are performing inspections and pump tests to a constantly increasing number of customers."

Apparatus inspectors at Sunbelt Fire's Alabama service shop perform inspections on a number of rigs

1) Apparatus inspectors at Sunbelt Fire's Alabama service shop
perform inspections on a number of rigs, including an aerial ladder
from the Natchez (MS) Fire Department and pumpers from the
Madison (MS) Fire Department and Foley (AL) Fire Department.
(Photo courtesy of Sunbelt Fire.)

 

Apparatus Service Provider

Sunbelt Fire provides NFPA 1911 inspections, pump testing, and preventive maintenance to departments from those with a couple of vehicles to others with more than 50 pieces of apparatus, Clark notes, and from rural volunteer departments to some of the largest municipalities in its coverage area. "We do everything that can be done on a fire truck," Clark points out. "We have seven road service technicians, portable pump test trailers, a full shop, and two satellite service operations."

Clark notes that all in-service fire apparatus must meet NFPA 1911's requirements. "We've spent a lot of time making sure that what we offer meets or exceeds the requirements of NFPA 1911," he says.

Stephen Dean, chief of the Mobile (AL) Fire-Rescue Department, says maintenance "of our rolling stock is important in that it must meet all the standards and not have any safety issues either with the public who shares the road with us or our personnel on those vehicles."

Dean says that his department uses Sunbelt Fire to perform inspections, pump tests, and other maintenance on its fleet of 20 first-line pumpers, seven aerials,

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Posted: Nov 12, 2013

In The News

• R•O•M CORPORATION and Specialty Manufacturing Inc. (SMI) announced that they will combine under new ownership with The Sterling Group, of Houston, Texas. Both companies are suppliers for specialty vehicle safety components. The Sterling Group will help R•O•M and SMI continue to improve their organizations, providing better service and products to their customers. Sterling plans to continue the efforts and successes both companies experienced while operating as portfolio companies of Century Park Capital Partners. The combination of R•O•M and SMI gives the new organization increased size and resources. As part of the announcement, both companies will continue operating and marketing the R•O•M and SMI brands. Primary points of contact at each company remain unchanged.

2013 Minnesota Home DayWATEROUS COMPANY recently hosted the 2013 Minnesota Home Day. With sponsor support from Rosenbauer-America, Physio Control, Image Trend, Emergency Apparatus Maintenance, FoamPro, and the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association, the vision for the 2013 Minnesota Home Day was to bring together the triad that represents the Minnesota fire service: Minnesota's fire chiefs, government leadership, and industry professionals. The group took aim at "Unifying the Voice for the Minnesota Fire Service" to communicate and learn the changing landscapes that affect hometown heroes and their effectiveness to answer the call. Keynote speaker Jerry Rosendahl, Minnesota state fire marshal, states, "Citizens and elected officials need to become more aware of their fire department's organization and needs." Budget issues are affecting firefighters' abilities to be well-trained and well-equipped to handle the emergencies in our communities. In Minnesota, he says, there is a need "to make sure that a balance of support and resources from federal, state, and local levels continues to exist."

• HME, Inc. has been awarded a multiyear contract from the state of California Department of General Services (DGS). This is the second consecutive multiyear award that HME has obtained from the California DGS to produce both the Type 1 apparatus for the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) and Type 3 apparatus for CAL FIRE. The previous contract resulted in 269 apparatus to be manufactured by HME: 49 Type 1 engines for OES and 164 Type 3 engines for CAL FIRE. An additional 56 apparatus were also sold through the Municipal Fire Apparatus Cooperative Purchase Program. The OES fleet has more than 120 Type 1 apparatus and the entire fleet now rides on the HME product.

• DUPONT launched DuPont™ Nomex® MHP fabrics, its latest flame-resistant innovation. Nomex MHP offers inherent, multihazard protection that can help keep wearers safe from a variety of thermal hazards. Nomex MHP was engineered in response to market needs and to meet or exceed the international standards for heat and flame protection (NFPA 2112, ENISO11612), arc flash (NFPA 70E, IEC 61482-2), and small molten metal splash protection (ENISO11611), while excelling in comfort, durability, and value. Engineered to absorb moisture, Nomex® MHP dries faster than cotton. The flame protection of Nomex MHP, like in all products made of Nomex®, is inherent and provides permanent protection that won't wash out or wear away.

• SETCOM® CORPORATION, a manufacturer of intercom systems and headsets for fire service vehicles, has released its latest innovation for fire apparatus communications: CommandCom™. CommandCom is a Setcom microphone and speaker system that is fully integrated into an H.O. Bostrom headrest. The newly released system uses Setcom's patent-pending Phase Contouring™ technology. When using the system, a firefighter is able to seamlessly communicate with other

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Posted: Nov 12, 2013

Apparatus/Equipment News

Pelican 3315 LED FlashlightPelican 3315 LED Flashlight was created with first responder and industrial safety professionals in mind. Requiring only three AA batteries (included), the run time is nine hours and 45 minutes with a light output of up to 113 lumens. The Pelican 3315 LED features a beam distance of 153 meters and a peak beam intensity of 5913 candelas. The shape of the light's body is engineered to fit in the natural grasp of gloved hands and the ridges along the handle allow for a strict nonslip grip. Additionally, it features a lockable battery compartment with a tethered door and a castle top so the user can see that the light is on if left standing upright. The 3315 LED comes in safety yellow or black and is made of virtually indestructible polymer material. A safety wrist lanyard is attached to avoid losing the 3315 LED in risky situations.
-www.pelican.com, 800-473-5422

Airspace carbon monoxide and flammable gas detectorsAirspace carbon monoxide and flammable gas detectors have been redesigned to offer 25 percent longer battery life and additional efficiency by using motion switch technology. A backlight has been added for the LCD readout and more alarm lights have been added. Retained in the new models is the Airspace five-year warranty, which includes the sensor. A failure alarm system eliminates the need to routinely bump test. A redesigned circuit board, new software, and more energy efficient components now offer up to 40 days of full 24/7 performance. Motion switch technology can be chosen to manage the monitor. Any movement will reactivate the monitor, and 45 minutes without movement will return it to an energy conserving, standby mode.
-www.airspaceinc.com, 888-654-5126

VENTRY fansVENTRY® fans are now available with the option of medium flat-free wheels and skids. For one-handed transport, this option includes a handle that moves straight up and down from the center of the fan. It also includes two powder-coated steel stair skids that allow for easy maneuvering of the fan over stairs, curbs, and other obstacles. These industrial-duty tires are six inches in diameter and two inches wide, so they roll easily over rough and unpacked terrain and provide extra clearance between the fan guard and the ground during transport. The tires are made from solid microcellular polyurethane foam with a zinc-plated, two-piece steel hub. Flat-free wheels are small enough to be practical even on compact 20-inch VENTRY fan models.
-www.ventry.com, 888-257-8967

Knucklehead HAZ-LO FloodStreamlight®, Inc. Knucklehead® HAZ-LO® Flood and the Knucklehead® HAZ-LO® Spot lights are both rechargeable and feature a Class 1, Division 1 safety rating. Offering the latest in C4® power LED technology, each light has a 210-degree articulating head that rotates a full 360 degrees and a removable magnet with 135-pound pull strength that attaches to most contoured steel surfaces. Both models are available with either an integrated storable hang hook or clip. The new lights each offer four microprocessor-controlled modes: high, low, emergency flash, and a moonlight setting. On the high setting, the Knucklehead HAZ-LO Fl

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Posted: Nov 11, 2013

EMS: Making a Difference in the Moments that Matter

By Richard Marinucci

Emergency medical services are such a vital part of many fire departments' responsibilities that the performance of personnel on every call has become a measure of fire departments' capabilities in the eyes of many in the public. Of course, as with fire calls, the public has little real knowledge and establishes its opinion based on its perceptions, not necessarily reality. This doesn't matter. The fire service must be professional in its approach and provide the best possible service it can based on its knowledge, not necessarily public perceptions.

Responders should consider two parts to every call: the customer service that is provided and the technical aspect of the skills needed to adequately resolve the emergency. This approach accomplishes addressing potential perception issues from the public and ensuring that the best possible care is given. Another way to put this is that "bedside manner" is just as important as the actual care, and they should not be considered mutually exclusive. With this philosophy comes the responsibility to make sure that personnel are prepared for both.

EMS Competence

Competence in EMS can be measured in various ways; there is a subjective component regarding how well the service is being provided. Those in the EMS business can tell those that have the greatest skill regardless of what the measurement tools say. If you were to survey your medics as to whom they would want treating their loved ones, you would probably find that a majority identify the same medics. Those in the profession know who the high performers are because they see them performing every day. There is nothing scientific about this, just professional perspective.

Competence is attained through study, training, and practice. There are varying skill levels among EMS personnel even within the same licensure. Some are more capable of starting IVs while others read EKGs better. It could be a combination of natural abilities and practice. Regardless, all EMS personnel must be able to perform at a particular level. That level should be high, and the goal of every organization should be to greatly exceed the minimum standards established for the profession.

Avoiding the Routine

Many EMS calls could be considered "routine" by those that respond. That is because they happen frequently and fit into the category of normal or "textbook" incidents. For these calls, there is great success delivering the expected service. It is a combination of frequency, which gives responders confidence and experience to handle the calls, and the fact that the incidents fit into the established protocols and diagnoses. Medics are trained a certain way, and if the incident fits the training, it makes the treatment almost automatic. Further, repetition increases competence and confidence.

Less frequent are the calls that require more skill, knowledge, and ability. These are the calls where responders can truly make a difference. They are the calls that don't happen frequently and don't fit into the normal expectations. The performance on these calls really determines an individual's and organization's overall competence. Every organization can handle the routine-only those that really pursue their professionalism can perform consistently at a high level regardless of the type of call, its frequency, or when it occurs. Organizations aspiring to be truly outstanding must commit the energy, effort, and resources to make differences in the moments that matter.

The Right Time; the Right Tools

One component of great service is response time. The sooner definitive treatment begins, the better the outcomes. There are some that will say that this may not be true statistically. If you look at all the routine calls, you might be able to make a case. But if you are talking about the less frequent but mor

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Posted: Nov 11, 2013

The Importance of Tire Pressure Monitoring: a Firefighter's Perspective

Jason Estep

Responding to and from incidents has traditionally been a leading cause of firefighter fatalities and injuries. It is an area that requires constant attention and improvement. Think about the changes we've seen in apparatus safety during the past 20 years. We have enclosed cabs, added reflective striping on all sides of apparatus, installed seat belt monitors and signed seat belt pledges, installed tire pressure monitors, and removed loose items from the cab-yet we are still having the accidents. Why? I think the answer is two parts: first is driver training. We have to make sure that the people driving these rigs are properly trained to handle the apparatus. I could write for hours on driver training, but we'll leave that for another time. The second part of the answer is tire maintenance, or the lack thereof. Tires are an overlooked maintenance item and are more than likely a contributing factor to apparatus incidents, although it is often overlooked by investigators.

As firefighters, we take great pride in our equipment, always making sure that it is ready to respond at a minute's notice. However, we often overlook the most important part of the apparatus-the tires. I know they're black and round; we kick them to make sure they have air, and we usually spray tire shine on them for a parade. How much more do we need to know about a tire? We could all stand to gain a little more tire knowledge. Basic tire maintenance only takes a few minutes and is actually very simple, but it is important to understand the purpose, use, and limitations of a tire to properly maintain it.

Tire Construction

First, we need to understand how a tire is constructed. A radial tire is made up of six main parts: the inner liner, carcass ply, beads, sidewall, crown plies (belts), and tread. The inner liner is the tire's air chamber, making tubes a thing of the past. Usually made of a synthetic rubber called butyl rubber, it is nearly impenetrable by air and water. However, over time it can allow for slight air loss, so make sure you check your tire pressures. The carcass ply is the layer above the inner liner, often made of textile cords or steel wire (or cables) bonded into the rubber. These cables are largely responsible for determining the strength of the tire. The bead is the area of the tire that seals to the rim. The sidewall protects the side of the tire from impacts with curbs, rocks, and other road hazards. This is also the area that important tire details can be found such as tire width and speed rating. The crown plies or belts provide a rigid base for the tread and serve as protection for the carcass ply and inner liner. Traction, propulsion, braking, and cornering are all provided by the tread of the tire, which is designed to resist wear, abrasion, and heat.

Multifunctional Parts

Tires are one of the most, if not the most, critical components on a fire apparatus. Most parts of a fire truck perform one function. Tires on the other hand have numerous functions that are vital to safe responses. The tire's first job is to support the weight of the apparatus. Did you know that gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) depends on properly inflated tires? A pressure loss of just five pounds per square inch (psi) in front tires can often be enough to lower the weight- carrying capacity of the tire below the weight capacity of the front axle.

The tire also acts as part of the suspension, softening the impact from the road. Tires that are below the recommended tire pressure can severely affect the handling of the apparatus, especially when dropped off the road or on rough roads. Tires transmit propulsion and braking power to the road, and they are a critical piece of the steering system. Tires that are underinflated have longer stopping distances than tires with the correct air pressure. This is very important considering fire apparatus already have a stopping

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