Electric Power on Fire Apparatus Aids in Speeding Up the s Work
FIRE Department officials are fully aware that an abundance of light in fire fighting not only gives protection to the men but also accelerates the rate at which the conflagration may be subdued. Nor is this the only consideration. The introduction of floodlights into Fire Department work has emphasized the value of electrical
energy as an independent source of power. There have been repeated instances, where, because of severe weather conditions or failure in the power line, the electrical energy available from the fire truck has been the only source which could be used.
The installation of generating plants on trucks is a very simple operation, with a range of flexibility as to power and method of assembly. Units may vary in size from 730 watts. 110 volts direct current, to those delivering as high as 30 kilowatts (30,000 watts). The smaller machines may be driven from the fan belt, while plants varying from 1,500 watts to a maximum of 10 kilowatts may be operated from the power takeoff. Electrical power in excess of this amount may be obtained from a special generator mounted in line with the main drive shaft. This last unit is so designed that the armature will rotate only when engaged by a suitable gearshift, with the propeller shaft disconnected at the same time.
These larger units may be equipped with a governor control, in addition to the voltage regulator. The voltage regulation supplemented by the governor on the larger units, makes it possible to obtain voltage control without depending on hand rheostats. Furthermore, such control is an added protection to whatever equip-
ment is being operated from the circuit, since, if the engine speed should be inadvertently increased, or, if the load should suddenly be removed, with the hand control, the voltage would rise rapidly and seriously damage any equipment being operated at the time.
Generator mountings as defined, namely, units under the hood of from 750 to 1,500-watt capacity, driven from the fan belt; units of from 1,500watt to 10-kilowatt, driven from the power take-off directly, with a profiler shaft and universal joints (Fig 1) ; and generators of from 10 to 30kilowatt, mounted in line with the propellor shaft (Fig. 2), are all located so that all body space is available for equipment use.
It is readily understood, therefore, that a large volume of electrical energy may be made available in any standard truck, using the motive power as a prime mover. The larger
generator, of course, requires the selection of a truck of adequate engine capacity, in order to obtain a safe margin of overload. Experience has proven that, where the modern truck engine is properly adapted to the particular generator used, successful operation over long periods of time is assured, without excessive wear and tear, and at comparatively low temperature.
Wide Range in Design
Floodlighting equipment may be as simple or as elaborate as desire and necessity dictate. The smaller community may be well served with two 500-watt lights, while the larger city may demand five of such lights with, perhaps, two additional 250-watt lamps. Cable reels of the live circuit type enable these lights to be carried apart from the car and to be kept illumined while the cable is being unreeled without the delay and inconvenience of plugging into the circuit. It is important that the connectors be of the water tight type, as many times the operating cable lies under water and might be short circuited if the conventional plug connectives were used.
For large city use, where there are many high buildings, and for use on a waterfront, an additional lamp should be of the searchlight type, with 1,500-watt bulb, to give approximate 2,000,000 candlepower in the projected beam to easily reach the top of high buildings or cover a distance of several miles.
Power for Tools
This possibility of developing electric power in large volume offers the opportunity of adding other electrical equipment as part of a floodlighting installation on an emergency rescue and floodlighting truck.
Among the first to be considered is an air compressor and storage tank of adequate size to operate an air hammer of the pavement breaking type.
In a recent fire on one of the steamship piers in New York City, where one of the points of conflagration was under the concrete floor, it was necessary for the Fire Department to call for an air compressor unit front a public utility company. There was naturally some delay in getting this unit to the fire, a condition which would have been avoided, had the Fire Department been supplied with a compressor unit of its own. It would be possible to think of many instances where a high powered air hammer of this type could be used to expedite fire fighting.
Another piece of equipment which could be operated from the air compressor is an air saw. which would be most serviceable, especially where some wooden obstruction had to be
removed with the greatest dispatch. Should the compressor not be included, then an electric saw might be operated from the same source of power as is used for the floodlights.
Size of Generator
A truck with all the equipment mentioned, plus some special equipment, can be operated by a 30-kilowatt generator placed in the line shafting, as previously described. If it is possible to omit some of the appliances, smaller generators may be used.
The modern gasoline engine operated fire engine can provide sufficient energy for doing many things not previously undertaken for assisting the firemen in their work. Departments have not progressed with the development of electrically driven tools.
The actual design of the car depends somewhat on the wishes of the Fire Department receiving it. The compressor and compressor tank may be stored under a portion of the seats, on either side. The live circuit cable reel may be placed at the extreme rear under the floor just torward of the rear step. Small cable reels each containing 100 feet of cable, can be kept in a part of the space under the seats. The lamps rest on stanchions on the corners. Outlets for connecting up the electrical circuits may be placed around the sides of the truck on the outside.
The voltage regulator and a small switch panel for the lighting circuits
can be put under the cowl. The switch panels for controlling the air compressor and the pump could be placed at the rear, on either side, in comparative small panels.
The fundamental point of this installation is that as high as 30 kilowatt of electrical energy may be available without taking up any of the body space, and that this electrical energy is obtained with automatic voltage control and consequently requires a minimum of attention from the operating crew.
Many Emergency Uses
The discussion in this article has been limited to the use of fire trucks for fire fighting, but Fire Departments are constantly being called on for emergencies where speedy and efficient action are needed : Automobile accidents, transportation wrecks and drowning,. Instances have occurred where due to the breakdown of hospital lighting plants, the Fire Department’s lighting truck provided emergency lighting service until the hospital lighting system could be repaired.
There is no doubt that any device or piece of equipment which will increase the capacity for service of a Fire Department or truck means just so much more in safety and service for the community.