Canadian Underwriters to Test and Label Fire Apparatus

Canadian Underwriters to Test and Label Fire Apparatus

AN ambitious forward step in the maintenance of fire apparatus standards was made in July by the Dominion Board of Insurance Underwriters of Montreal, Canada, when that organization published its first release of fire department pumpers to qualify under the Dominion Board Listing Service.

This first release under the name of the Canadian counterpart to the National Board of Fire Underwriters represents not only the launching of an all Canadian pumper listing service for the first time, but also a new departure into comprehensive and exacting requirements in respect to apparatus design and performance as a basis for granting listings. An additional feature of the service is the requirement for listing plates or labels to be carried on the pump panel of each listed unit, this plate bearing the listing number assigned to the model by the Dominion Board.

While centered around the passing of a twelve hour endurance pumping test procedure similar to that of the National Board, whose listing service has previously been in use in Canada, the Canadian listing requirements call for a number of further qualifying tests. These include a pumping spurt test to 10 percent in excess of rated capacity; pump, primer and suction hose vacuum test and tests of the truck’s acceleration on the road. In addition, design of the apparatus as well as the provision of basic accessories and equipment are checked. All units submitted are weighed when fully loaded in order to detect overloading of the chassis or tires above their ratings.

Use of a closely calibrated vacuum gauge at the end of 20 feet of suction hose to test the primer and check the pump and suction hose for tightness in accordance with the specification.A close-up of the rubber-backed aluminum disc and vacuum gauge used by the Dominion Board for accurate vacuum measurements. This is invaluable for diagnosing priming troubles and the condition of a pump without resorting to drafting.Measurement of angle of departure or rearend clearance in connection with design requirements.

Test and design requirements for listing are those of Specification B89.3 of the Canadian Standards Association, entitled “Automobile Fire Fighting Apparatus,” which means the Dominion Board as the testing organization for pumpers. The specification was developed over a period of two years by a committee of representatives from various interested branches of the fire protection field. They included fire chiefs, fire marshals, fire insurance underwriters’ engineers, apparatus manufacturers and others. The Canadian standard is comparable in most respects to the joint specification of the National Fire Protection Association, International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Board of Fire Underwriters, two members of the Canadian committee also serving on the committee responsible for the American specification. One of these is J. N. Pryce, Director of the Fire Protection Engineering Department of the Dominion Board, under whose supervision the listing service is being conducted. Specification B89.3 is designed as an aid to municipalities purchasing apparatus and is available from the Canadian Standards Association, Ottawa.

The major manufacturers of fire apparatus in Canada and municipal fire protection inspection engineers of the eight regional fire underwriters’ associations across the country are cooperating to make a success of the new venture, which promises to fill a long felt need for protection of purchasing fire departments, reliable manufacturers and fire protection generally. One manufacturer, though noting a necessitated increase in production costs for a standard model of several hundred dollars, is enthusiastically backing the project as a selling point for his firm.

The underwriters’ associations are planning on specifying Dominion Board listed pumpers in their respective jurisdictions after January 1, 1954; during the interim manufacturers are working on design modifications to meet the provisions of the specification, and approval of Canadian pumpers will continue to be based upon listing of the N.B.F.U., many Canadian pumpers having been listed by that organization.

The listing service constitutes a free service to fire departments and municipal officials on the part of the Dominion Board of Insurance Underwriters and the affiliated regional associations having local jurisdictions. These associations, just as the fire departments, are intensely interested in adequate and efficient fire protection with its consequent reduction in fire losses. Efforts to secure a high standard in design and performance of municipal fire apparatus through the listing service are one more step toward that end. Dominion Board officials are confident municipal officials will be quick to seize upon the advantages to be gained by purchasing apparatus under the new Canadian specification and test procedure as required for attainment of listing by the Dominion Board.

Operation of the listing procedure involves application by the manufacturer of fire apparatus to the Dominion Board for a listing on any new model or design of pumper. After considering the specifications and data submitted, the Dominion Board’s Fire Protection Engineering Department arranges for the necessary tests to be witnessed by the nearest regional engineer. Upon passing of the tests and complying with design and equipment requirements, the model is assigned a listing number and the manufacturer told he may attach the prescribed plate bearing this number to all subsequent pumpers built to this same design.

While, to retain his listing, the manufacturer must continue to build all successive pumpers identical to the original as far as the engine, transmission, pump and chassis are concerned, he may vary the body design at will in order to meet the individual requirements of different fire departments. He must, however, make certain that these body changes do not violate the specification in any way. This concept of a listed model is necessitated by the fact that the Canadian listing is based to a considerable degree upon features of design. Thus, because the chassis is important, a triple combination pumper and a quad which are otherwise identical must be listed separately.

Subsequent units of a listed model each are required to undergo the customary three hour acceptance pumping test and certain of the new tests which may be considered necessary prior to or upon delivery to the purchasing municipality. These tests are witnessed by the engineer of the regional underwriters’ association having jurisdiction where the municipality is located. Witnessing of these acceptance tests on behalf of municipalities purchasing new apparatus has long been a service of the underwriters’ associations, but will now become a part of the listing procedure in order to provide a field checkon all units bearing the listing plate.

The principle of performance rating, or granting listing without a twelve hour test, as practised by the N.B.F.U. is followed in cases of slight change between models except that in many instances a four hour test is called for and, in any event the other tests are called for. A feature of listings being granted at the present time is the allowance of credit for the twelve hour pumping test in cases where the model has been previously listed by the N.B.F.U. In such cases, only the balance of the tests are required to be made.

The listing plate, affixed to the operator’s pump control panel of every listed unit, has stamped on it the listing number assigned to that model and the tested pump performance rating figures including volume, pressures and engine speeds. Knowing the listing number of a unit, the test engineer of any underwriters’ association can quickly draw complete data on the model from his files of listed apparatus, these having been supplied him by the Dominion Board. Much of this information is readily available to fire chiefs and other municipal officials through their association engineer. The performance ratings on the plate are, of course, a quick reference for the pump operator and assist him in the efficient operation of his machine. Provision is made for the removal of listing plates from units found not to comply with listing requirements upon delivery.

Already, the application of the tests and design requirements to fire apparatus being produced in Canada is confirming suspected weaknesses in design. Overloading of the truck chassis and tires upon which the pumper is built is very common, for example, due usually to the demand in recent years for large booster water tanks. Frequently municipalities specify or themselves supply a small load capacity chassis while calling for a heavy load of equipment and water to be carried. The result is that the manufacturer has been obliged to build an overloaded piece of fire apparatus with poor performance characteristics. Now that the C.S.A. specification has been implemented through the Dominion Board Listing Service, all manufacturers will be in a position to say to the municipality, “We cannot build a unit to your specification and comply with the accepted standards.”

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A pumper undergoes the 12-hour pumping test while a Dominion Board test representative checks its performance.The first pumper of Bickle-Seagrave, Ltd., to have the Dominion Board listing plate attached. The plate may be seen above the pump control panel. Shown in the picture are J. N. Pryce. Director of the Fire Protection Engineering Department of the Dominion Board and A. Brossard, General Manager of Bickle-Seagrave (Quebec), Ltd. Unit is for city of St. Jerome, Quebec.

Canadian Underwriters

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The spurt test to determine whether a pumper is capable of delivering ten percent in excess of its capacity rating shows up those units lacking reserve power for pumping. A small falling off of engine power in such a unit over a few years of service may be critical. One type of pump primer in use will likely be superseded by one of higher performance characteristics able to meet the requirements of the specification in regard to suction lift.

Establishment of the Canadian pumper listing service arose as a natural sequel to the creation of the Canadian Standards Association specification on motor fire apparatus. With its nationwide affiliated testing organizations, all greatly interested in the quality of fire protection, the Dominion Board of Insurance Underwriters was in a logical position to develop and operate the procedure. It was at this point that Mr. Pryce, the Board’s Director of Engineering, saw the opportunity to establish a listing service based not only upon pumping tests, but additional requirements as to performance and suitability of design, a move toward elimination of the weaknesses uncovered by underwriters’ engineers in apparatus found in service. The decision of the Dominion Board to commence listing based upon Specification B89.3 was thereupon endorsed by the specification committee. The procedure to be followed was subsequently worked out by the Board’s Fire Protection Engineering Department, to be finally placed in operation this year.

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