The Fire Department Instructors Conference is typically the place where apparatus and equipment manufacturers showcase their new products and, once again, FDIC 2007 did not disappoint! A redesigned chassis by E-One, the next generation of Spartan chassis, and a whole new pumper configuration by Pierce were just a few highlights of the event. KME and Ferrara displayed apparatus to meet “extreme duty” requirements, and Rosenbauer unveiled a new line of aerial products incorporating many of its past “Tech Drive” features.
The E-One “Quest” is the first truly different design from E-One in several years. The extruded aluminum cab is 100 inches wide, which dramatically increases interior space and legroom, something that has been missing in general fire apparatus designs for a long time. There is a spacious low-view full windshield with 28-inch wiper blades to increase visibility for the driver. Teardrop-shaped power adjustable mirrors are mounted to the cab corners. Integral LED turn signal and clearance lights are built into the mirrors. The cab roof is constructed of aluminum treadplate for lasting durability.
(1) The E-One Quest features a 100-inch-wide cab; large, spacious windshields; and easy to access doors. (Photos by author.)
A 45-degree front axle cramp angle and a 17-inch front and rear disc brake system with ABS and roll stability control should make driving and stopping this unit safer and more reliable.
The instrument and control panels have been redesigned with comfort and safety in mind. The pump shift and parking brake control are center mounted high on the dash where they are easy to operate. The siren controls are integrated into the dashboard where they can be reached by both the driver and officer. Switching for headlights and clearance lights, wipers and cruse control are all contained in the center of the steering wheel so the driver does not have to remove his hands from the wheel to operate these accessories. Power adjustable brake and accelerator pedals, along with the tilt steering wheel, allow the driver to customize his driving position for maximum comfort and safety.
The entry doors are wide and open 90 degrees with oversize handles and power windows and door locks. The ergonomically designed staggered three-step entry and exit system makes getting in and out of the cab easier and safer.
The interior can seat up to seven firefighters comfortably. The three forward-facing rear seats are evenly spaced across the rear wall, which provides “elbow room” for members riding in those positions.
The improvements in this chassis should be a hit with the firefighters who will use it in the field.
The “Pierce Ultimate Configuration” (PUC) is a completely different apparatus design that will improve safety, efficiency, and performance of maintenance functions. The PUC design can be incorporated into any of the four Pierce chassis currently in production: the Velocity, Impel, Quantum, and Arrow XT.
(2) The Pierce Ultimate Configuration did away with the typical pump house. The pump is mounted above the frame rails and when the crosslay beds are removed, all plumbing and pump controls are available for easy service.
The first thing that you notice is that there is no pump house, which is typically inserted between the cab and body. This allows for a shorter wheelbase, more maneuverable chassis, or longer body with up to 500 cubic feet of compartment storage. Side suction intakes and discharges are mounted below the chest-high crosslays, all of which are easy to access from the ground. The pump controls are mounted inside the first compartment on the left, out of the weather and next to the hose connections. This provides space between the operator and the tangle of hoselines connected to the pump panel.
The Pierce-designed 1,500-gpm single-stage pump is mounted above the frame rails and accessible for maintenance by simply tilting the cab. When the removable crosslay beds are taken out, the mechanic has full access to all pump plumbing, valves, and controls, which should speed maintenance. The pump is power take-off (PTO)-driven directly off the engine, which eliminates the need for a split-shaft pump transmission and allows for standard pump-and-roll capabilities. The new pressure governor features a rotary knob for throttle adjustment, something that most pump operators are accustomed to looking for on older apparatus. Pierce provides a six-year warranty on the pump.
An important safety feature incorporated into this design is a two-step pump shift system. When the parking brake is applied, the apparatus transmission automatically shifts into neutral. The pump shift is accomplished by simply selecting water, foam, or CAFS (depending on the configuration specified). Other safety features include lower hosebeds, low ladder and backboard storage, a ladder access to the top hosebed, rear folding work platform, and side roll and frontal impact protection for the occupants.
These improvements, in conjunction with the advanced thinking that went into the Velocity and Impel chassis, prove that the engineers at Pierce are constantly striving to design safer and more efficient apparatus for the benefit of the fire service.
Spartan had its “Double-Header” chassis on display; wherever you looked in the convention center, there were banners announcing “the next generation of custom.”
The two models, the full feature Gladiator and the more basic Metro Star, come with an impressive number of cab options and configurations. The Gladiator can be built with either the Classic or the more modern Evolution front-end styling. The Metro Star is available in Classic only.
As for engine selection, the Gladiator will handle CAT as well as the larger Cummins and Detroit Diesel Series 60 (up to 525-horsepower). The Metro Star engine options are CAT or Cummins up to 425-horsepower. Both chassis offer beam or air-ride independent front suspension and single or tandem configured rear suspension.
A visit to the Darley booth is always an interesting experience. A full-size pumper was on display with a PolyBilt plastic body. The entire body is made of Polyprene material, which is strong and impact-, corrosion-, and rust-resistant. The unit had an integrated water tank, which lowered the hosebed and the center of gravity. Poly bodies are heat-resistant and can be painted the same as other body material.
(3) This Darley pumper has a plastic body with integrated water tank.
Several models of Darley pumps, both portable and for apparatus mounting, were on hand for examination. The Darley family has been manufacturing pumps and compressed air foam systems of their own design for many years.
Most modern fire pumps have packing glands that required rope-like packing material to be inserted and compressed to seal the pump shaft and routinely drip water while pumping (and sometimes after!) to lubricate the packing. Many years ago, Darley designed an “injection-style” packing. The pump shaft is sealed by a pliable packing that comes in the form of pellets inserted into the seal unit and compressed with an adjusting bolt. Both of these methods of sealing the pump shaft required frequent adjustments.
More recently, the pump manufacturers all offer an optional spring-loaded, mechanical pump seal. These devices maintain their pressure seal without routine adjustments. The only problem with this system is if the pump is run without water, the seal tends to rapidly heat up and fail. Paul Darley displayed the company’s new mechanical seal that can handle more abuse than the typical version. It is made with a special silicon carbide, which is extremely hard and dissipates heat readily, thus reducing wear and dry running damage. The seal was run in a dry pump for more than 30 minutes without failure. This innovation is truly the best of both worlds, a pump seal that doesn’t leak and is relatively “firefighterproof”!
(4) PolyBilt also manufacturers elliptical tanks that incorporate side body compartments.
At the PolyBilt booth, Pete Darley showed an elliptical tanker made of Polyprene material that is tough, lower in weight, and shaped to reduce the center of gravity. The tank can be painted, wrapped with a stainless steel skin, or left natural.
KME was showing its Predator Severe Service Chassis, which was originally designed for the Los Angeles County (CA) Fire Department. The aluminum heavy-duty cab is constructed of an extruded tube substructure with 1/4 -inch and 3/16 -inch wall thickness for cab structural integrity.
The Severe Service Chassis uses 17-inch front disc brakes, an engine brake, and a hydraulic transmission retarder to provide maximum stopping power. The chassis is traditionally hard wired for standard troubleshooting.
KME was offering volume pricing for a limited time on this heavy duty unit.
One of the units displayed by HME Ahrens-Fox was the WOLF commercial chassis, all stainless steel tanker body. It had a “pump in the box” design of a simple 500-gpm pump with all of the necessary controls and stainless steel plumbing neatly packaged in a lower compartment. This allows the 2,000-gallon tanker to function as a rural attack pumper as well.
(5) The HME Ahrens-Fox all stainless steel Wolf Tanker with a simple 500-gpm pump and controls in a side compartment.
Rosenbauer unveiled its three new aerial products, the Roadrunner Water Tower, Viper Aerial, and Cobra Platform.
The Roadrunner Water Tower has a 68-foot aerial boom with a -10-degree to 80-degree elevation and a 500-pound rated tip load capacity ladder attached. It uses four “A-frame” outriggers that allow the unit to set up in close proximity to cars and other obstacles. The boom nozzle sweeps 180 degrees side to side as well as 150 degrees below and 80 degrees above the boom while flowing 1,250 to 1,500 gpm. Folding handrails are available to lower travel height by 8 inches.
The Viper aerial line comes in hot-dipped galvanized steel inside and out for a maintenance-free surface or standard painted steel. The mid-mount straight-stick aerial is a five-section 100-foot device while the rear-mounts can be provided from 60 up to 109 feet. A 500-pound live load while flowing water is standard. The optional “Smart Aerial” system uses sensors and electronics to allow operations on the short jack side without maneuvering the aerial to an unsafe position.
A retractable waterway uses a simple lever that eliminates the need for pins and cables to change the waterway configuration. Wireless remote controls for the aerial and monitor are available as an option.
The Cobra platform is available in either a rear-mount configuration up to 104 feet or mid-mount up to 100 feet. Both have a 1,000-pound live load without water flowing and 500 pounds at 1,500-gpm flow. It too can be provided in hot-dipped galvanized or painted steel.
A platform collision protection system has a sensor on the front edge of the platform that stops the aerials motion as soon as it comes in contact with any object. The Smart Aerial and the wireless remote control options are also available on the Cobra Platform.
All of the Rosenbauer units incorporated many of the previous innovations unveiled in the “Tech Drive ’05 and ’06” campaigns.
Crimson unveiled an impressive new apparatus accessory with its “Boomer” tower. It is obvious that much thought went into how many functions can be provided by one simple piece of accessory equipment.
The heart of the Boomer is a 28-foot hydraulic boom that expands the reach of your fire pumper. It is not an aerial device but a multifunctional elevated waterway on steroids. The boomer on display was mid-mounted, but a rear-mounted version is in the works.
It starts out as a 28-foot master stream device that can be rotated 360 degrees and elevated from -10 to 90 degrees. This allows the operator to place the stream where it will get optimum direction and reach. Added to the 1,000-gpm monitor are two additional gated handline discharges. These can be placed at a window or at ground level in front of a building for convenience.
Two banks of 3,000-watt lights makes this a 6,000-watt light tower. Each bank of three can tilt and pan to give 360-degree coverage at the scene. A 110-volt outlet brings an electrical connection to the tip as well.
High-pressure hydraulic and air rescue tool connections are provided at the tip of the boom. In a rescue situation, the boom could be positioned over the side of a roadway to supply quick hydraulic, air, or electric power to the scene.
Finally, the Boomer has a 1,000-pound lifting capability, which can be handy at an extrication or as a tie-off point for a rope rescue situation.
Another innovate product on display was SCENEdots. The rear of many typical apparatus is covered with shinny aluminum treadplate. A problem arises when compliant reflective material needs to be applied. Typical reflective does not stick well or look attractive over the bumpy treadplate surface, thus requiring a smooth-plate overlay. SCENEdots eliminate this problem. The small, round, reflective dots stick to the smooth area between the diamonds on the treadplate surface. Although they seem to be a bit labor intensive to install, they certainly reflect light and provide the necessary reflective material on a treadplate surface.
(8) SCENEdots are small, round, reflective dots that fit between the raised diamonds on the apparatus treadplate. When light shines on the surface, they reflect like a series of LEDs.
JUST A SAMPLING
This was just a sampling of the many innovative products displayed at this year’s FDIC. After a full day of “hunting around,” my newly replaced knee began feeling like it needed a grease fitting and a shot of lubricant!
(7) Seagrave displayed a Poly body that was half painted and half natural to show the construction used in its design.
I fully encourage you to take advantage of the tons of material the vendors displaying new equipment provide; use the Internet to do your exploring as well. If you have a need, I guarantee someone makes a product to fill that need!
William C. Peters retired after 28 years with the Jersey City (NJ) Fire Department, having served the past 17 years as battalion chief/supervisor of apparatus, with the responsibility of purchasing and maintaining the apparatus fleet. He served as a voting member of the NFPA 1901 apparatus committee for several years, representing apparatus users. He is the author of Fire Apparatus Purchasing Handbook (Fire Engineering, 1994); two chapters on apparatus in The Fire Chief’s Handbook, Fifth and Sixth Editions (Fire Engineering, 1995); and numerous apparatus-related articles. He is a member of the Fire Engineering editorial advisory board and of the FDIC Executive Advisory Board. He lectures extensively on apparatus purchase and safety issues. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.