EFFICIENCY OF MOTOR APPARATUS IN WINTER UNDER ALL CONDITIONS
The rapid advance and change in fire-fighting apparatus from the horse-drawn types to motor-propelled apparatus has led to many different classes and styles of equipment. We have had in use, in the London department, for the past two winters a motor combination truck and during that period it has never failed to reach a fire or call under any weather conditions. After this experience in snow and the exacting tests that have been made, I consider that, where the use of wheels is at all possible, the motor apparatus has the advantage over the older horse-drawn type. Dealing with the subject generally, we might well eliminate deep snow from our calculations, for motor apparatus, as yet, is seldom in use except in cities where the streets, by reason of the heavy city traffic, are in fair condition within a comparatively short time after any heavy snowfall. Then again take asphalt pavements for an example. After a sleet storm, or after a thaw, it is almost impossible for horses to keep their feet while traveling at the speed it is necessary for the propelling of fire apparatus. The same conditions offer no obstacle to the motor-driven trucks which will make the same run in less than half the time and in much greater safety. Furthermore, if there is no occasion to hold the apparatus, the return trip can be made just as quickly, rendering the motor-drawn apparatus practically in service for any calls all the time. The number of trips that may be made in a day with the motor-driven apparatus is of no consequence, whereas with the horse-drawn type it is. In London we have had an opportunity to test our motors under all and the most severe weather conditions, such as snow, cold, sleet, mud and, what is worse than bad weather, bad roads. To every call the response of the machine has been marvelous. It indicates that the motor-drawn apparatus is past the experimental stage, so far as winter service is concerned, and that it is in every way not only the equal but the superior to horse equipment. As an illustration of this let me cite an instance. The first winter that the machine was in service in our department, we had a fall of about ten inches of granulated snow on a sleet bottom. I decided that it would be a good time to make a test run in order that we could determine the capabilities of the machine under such road conditions. I therefore laid out a route in the southern portion of the city, where there are some hills and rough roads. The run was made without a mishap and a distance of approximately five miles was covered in 18 minutes. To me this clearly demonstrates what can be done with motor apparatus for it was a severe test that met active service requirements in every detail. In passing, I might mention a few vital points to be considered in the care of motor apparatus. Proper care is an essential factor in getting the most out of any machinery and it is especially true of fire apparatus of the motor-driven type. Proper lubrication is one of the most important phases of this care and should be guarded with care. The very best lubricant should be provided, care being taken to see that the engine oil contains as little carbon as possible. The transmission oils and grease for the running gear should be free from acid. A cheap grade of lubricants will cause the ball bearings to become pitted and destroy them. Gasoline is another important factor. A high grade of gasoline should be provided as a cheaper grade also produces carbon with like results to the machinery. In short, it is the worst kind of false economy to provide anything but the best types of oil, gas and grease. Men placed in charge of motor apparatus should be intelligent and capable. They should be properly instructed not only in driving but in the proper care of the engine and able to effect the necessary repairs. You cannot place a figurehead on the driver’s seat of a motordriven truck and expect efficient results. The men chosen must be thoroughly conversant with the machinery under their control or you are liable to lose the efficiency that motordriven apparatus gives any department. As I have said before my personal experience with the motor-driven apparatus of my own department has convinced me of its serviceability under any and all conditions and I unhesitatingly say that so far as I have been able to judge the motor apparatus is the only apnaratus for snow or any other weather conditions. Though motors are now regarded as the universal apparatus, it is still a comparatively new asset to fire fighting appliances and there are naturally many who are prejudiced against its use in winter and who are inclined to say that while it is a fine thing in summer, it cannot be expected to perform in winter as efficiently. That theory is a wrong one, as I have found out here and I can but repeat, as I close, that given proper care and treatment with intelligent trained men to handle it, motor apparatus will stand up to any tests that may be made and will meet any call cither summer or winter.
Abstract of paper read at Convention of Dominion Association of Fire Chiefs, Ottawa, Canada, Aug. 24-27, 1915.