By William C. Peters
Once again, the FDIC was an outstanding display of new products, improvements to original apparatus designs, and even a major renaming of a product line. One thing that I found in common while interviewing the various manufacturers’ representatives is that they are all listening to their consumers while developing changes to their products. Most have organized focus groups that sample suggestions from all over the country, large departments and small, for recommendations that they can incorporate into their apparatus.
AUTOMATION: PUMP PANELS, AERIAL CONTROLS
One thing that was obvious around the exhibits was the introduction of automation to pump and aerial controls. I think that the younger generation in the fire service is more accustomed to using touch controls on everything from cell phones to IPads, which makes this type of conversion understandable. These are not your father’s heavy-duty push-pull valves!
During my time in the fire service, we have gone from manual levers and t-handles to crank controls to electric valves that operate by holding a toggle switch in one position or another and, finally, on to full automation. I must admit, touch-screens might take a little getting used to for the older generation!
The FRC/Elkhart Brass E.P.I.C. pump panel looks almost like a television screen mounted on the pump panel with the discharge pressure/flow gauges, master gauges, engine rpm, and tank fill controls (photo 1). Electric valves under each gauge open and close by touch on the screen.
|(1) Elkhart Brass/Fire Research EPIC automated pump panel. (Photos by author.)|
Another touch control panel is the Hale/Class I Ultra View (photo 2). Being somewhat smaller, tank controls as well as discharges are controlled by touch buttons next to the display, which shows the pressure as well as the open/closed position of the valve.
|(2) Hale/Class I electronic pump panel.|
Last year, W.S. Darley showed its Smart Panel pump control. This unit shows pressure readings on all of the discharges, and using different screen menus also provides all engine operating gauges as well as master gauges (photo 3). The engine speed is adjusted by an electric throttle knob with a red “return to idle” button in the center.
|(3) Darley Smart Panel.|
Rosenbauer displayed an aerial console that makes “flying” an aerial almost like flying an airplane (photo 4)! It makes perfect sense to have a joystick that is much like operating a video game rather than the traditional three-lever control. If you pull the stick back, the bed ladder raises; push forward, and it lowers. Operating the stick left or right moves the aerial turntable in the same direction, and a thumb control in the center extends and retracts the fly sections. Auxiliary buttons around the stick are for controlling lights, and so on.
|(4) Rosenbauer aerial joystick control.|
Two manufacturers, Hale and Darley, featured improvements to their product line that will both provide high flows while reducing the amount of space needed for the pump and pump panel, an extremely desirable characteristic for units like rescue pumpers.
The Hale Qmax-XS midship-mounted, single-stage pump combines the standard Q-Max flows of 1,000 to 2,250 gpm into a more compact pump (photo 5). “XS” in the product model name stands for “Extra Space,” and this unit is configured for a narrow pump panel to maximize compartment space. The Qmax-XS can fit in a 28-inch-wide pump panel when using electric valves or a 34-inch pump house with manual valves.
|(5) Hale QMax-XS pump contained in a 28-inch-wide pump enclosure.|
The Darley PSD “Silent-Pak” can attain a 1,500-gpm flow while using a Power Take Off (PTO) drive with no pump transmission (photo 6). The result is a quiet, compact, economical, and lightweight pump that can be used for most applications.
|(6) Darley ZS-3000 pump with flows in excess of 3,400 gpm.|
Their ZS 3000 claims to be the highest flow pump on the market with flows in excess of 3,400 gpm. It is rated at 2,000 gpm for NFPA 1901 pumper applications and 3,000 for ARFF, industrial, and fire boat applications. The pump on display had an auto-prime option as well.
Spartan ERV (Emergency Response Vehicles)
In 1997, Spartan Motors, which was well known for producing quality custom chassis for the fire service, purchased Luverne Fire Apparatus and Quality Manufacturing, two smaller apparatus builders (photo 7). In 2003, Luverne and Quality merged, and the Crimson brand was created. Announced at the 2012 FDIC, the name Spartan ERV replaces Crimson Fire as the company’s fire truck manufacturing name.
|(7) Spartan ERV 138-foot TelStar telescoping and articulating aerial platform.|
Spartan had several interesting pieces of apparatus on display for customer inspection (photo 8). The Spartan TelStar telescoping and articulated aerial platform towered over the booth. With 138 feet of vertical height, the Gimaex platform had several unique features. The platform is able to swivel 45 degrees in each direction off-center to allow a flat approach to any window, regardless of the angle of the aerial boom. The unit is equipped with “envelope control technology” to control safe aerial operation. The unit on display had a 1,000-gpm flow rate and had a 1,000-pound payload (dry–500 pounds with water flowing). What looked almost like a portable generator on the turntable was actually an emergency backup system for the aerial hydraulics.
|(8) The platform on the TelStar pivots 45 degrees to each side to allow a square approach to the building regardless of the boom angle.|
The Spartan RXO custom concept chassis featured a six-person cab, 4 × 4 all- terrain capabilities, and a short 23.4-foot turning radius (photo 9). The in-cab roll bar protection had an emergency breathing air system with attachments that run along the roll bar for the occupant’s use.
|(9) Spartan RXO 4 × 4 all-terrain apparatus.|
The Spartan Advanced Protection air bag system was on display and had several “industry firsts”–outboard sensors around the perimeter of the cab control air bag deployment during side or frontal impact as well as a rollover event (photo 10).
|(10) The Spartan Advanced Protection air bag system provides steering wheel as well as knee protection for the driver and officer.|
The system has a steering wheel air bag for the driver, but it also offers knee air bags for the driver and officer. Full front and rear side curtain air bags deploy from the ceiling to prevent head injuries and help prevent ejection. The system also uses advanced seat belts with pyrotechnic pretensioners in the retractor to absorb loads and reduce occupant injuries.
The new Rosenbauer Commander Chassis was two years in development and, like many other manufacturers, Rosenbauer sought the input and assistance of many fire departments around the country (photo 11).
|(11) Rosenbauer unveiled its new custom Commander chassis.|
The versatile unit has a rugged 99-inch-wide cab with a single, full-width windshield for full visibility. The chassis can be rated for a gross vehicle weight rating of from 32,000 up to 80,000 pounds (depending on axle selection) and is available with a Cummins or Navistar/MaxxForce engine from 260-500 hp. The open spacious cab is constructed of 3⁄16 aluminum plate with an aluminum extruded framework. Occupant comfort and safety were engineered into the cab with a low engine tunnel, which allows for wider hip room, wide door openings, low steps, and yellow knurled safety handrails.
Other interesting features in the Commander were speakers and a short boom microphone built into the headrest of each seat (photo 12). They take the place of a headphone system in the cab, allowing occupants to speak to each other as well as allowing for a radio interface for the officer. This solves one of the distractions of driving with headphones on: the inability to hear ambient noise like the siren and air horns of an approaching apparatus.
|(12) Speakers and a small boom microphone in the seating headrest provide for crew communication without wearing headsets.|
Another Rosenbauer product on display was a 115-foot T-Rex articulating aerial that was being delivered to an industrial customer in Canada (photo 13). The unit had a 2,000-gpm Hale pump and Foam-Pro foam system; the pump operator’s panel was enclosed inside the rear crew cab (for the cold), and a fully enclosed aerial operator’s compartment with a command seat and diesel heater was provided.
|(13) The Rosenbauer T-Rex articulating aerial platform had a fully enclosed aerial operator’s seat. The unit is being delivered to Canada.|
Another unit that was going to be delivered to a cold environment (Alaska) was an aluminum vacuum tanker by Firovac (photo 14). The Kenworth chassis had all fluid lines, even power steering, fully insulated. In addition to insulating all plumbing, a 64,000-Btu heater is installed in the pump compartment.
|(14) This aluminum vacuum tanker by Firovac is headed to Alaska.|
A new KME engine/rescue on its Predator chassis was on display (photo 15). This unit packs a lot of features into one small package! It featured a Waterous 1,500-gpm single-stage pump and foam system, compact 34-inch pump panel with fully digital pump panel, 1,000-gallon tank with 25-gallon foam cell, as well as full height and depth compartments that provide 496 cubic feet of compartment space. There is lots of room for storage!
|(15) KME displayed this unit with 496 cubic feet of compartment space.|
KME has redesigned its Aerialcat ladder line (photo 16). The 79-foot unit had a Hale QMax 2,000-gpm single-stage pump, 500-gallon water tank, 155 feet of ground ladders, and a 10-kw hydraulic generator. The 79-foot steel ladder has a 750-pound tip load (dry) and only a 14-foot-wide rear outrigger spread with the assistance of down jacks near the middle of the truck.
|(16) KME has redesigned its aerial line to include wide access, high handrails, and a replaceable stainless-steel tip.|
The 123-foot Aerialcat Ladder on display had a Waterous 2,000-gpm single-stage pump, 300-gallon water tank, and a hydraulic generator. The 123-foot steel ladder provides 114 feet of horizontal reach and has a 500-pound tip load wet or dry.
Both aerials have stainless-steel, knurled, bolt-on aerial tips for easy replacement in case of damage; glow-in-the-dark rung covers; and LED strip lighting inside the aerial walkway as standard. Both aerials also claim to have the widest fly section (26 inches), allowing a stokes basket to fit between the handrails.
E-ONE had a whole array of apparatus on display (photo 17). It expanded on the “E-Max” chassis design, which was unveiled at last year’s FDIC and featured a narrow pump panel and maximum body compartments. Some of the aerial products as well as a commercial pumper on an International chassis are now included.
|(17) E-ONE has expanded its E-Max series from the rescue pumper to aerial products and even commercial pumpers.|
The E-Max HP-78 aerial had seating for six in the cab, a 450-hp Cummins engine, a 1,500-gpm pump, a 500-gallon tank (460 water and 40 foam), and a 78-foot aluminum aerial rated at 750 pounds dry and 500 wet (photo 18).
|(18) E-Max 78-foot aerial apparatus.|
The E-Max commercial pumper featured an International chassis with a 330-hp Maxx Force engine, 1,500-gpm pump, 750-gallon water tank, and 30 gallons of foam (photo 19).
|(19) E-Max style body configuration on an International chassis.|
Other E-One units on display included a 100-foot platform, 100-foot aerial ladder, and rear-mount rescue pumper.
In addition to its standard product line, Sutphen displayed its wildland urban interface unit (photo 20). This unit was designed with much firefighter input, especially from those on the West Coast. It has a six-person cab with an EMS compartment for storage, Hale QMax 1,500-gpm pump, Hale FoamLogix foam system, and 500-gallon water and 20-gallon foam tank. In addition, a Hale diesel-powered auxiliary pump is mounted in the dunnage area for 245-gpm pump-and-roll capabilities.
|(20) Sutphen’s wildland urban interface unit–a compact apparatus with room for hose, equipment, and pump-and-roll capabilities.|
Another interesting unit was a 100-foot aerial with no pump, tank, or hosebed (photo 21). It was built for a fire department in New England that has a nine-foot, 10-inch door and had to have an aerial truck as low as possible. The unit has ample space for equipment storage in the large open compartments as well as a ladder bank including 40-, 35-, and 28-foot extension ladders as well as 20-, 16-, and 14-foot roof ladders.
|(21) A Sutphen 100-foot aerial without pump and tank to minimize height. This unit is only nine feet, three inches tall.|
Hackney had two units on display: a compressor unit on a commercial chassis and a rescue body on a custom chassis (photo 22). The rooftop of the rescue unit was equipped with an Auto Deploy Staircase. The comfortable heavy-duty stairs have handrails and deploy in 38 seconds.
|(22) Hackney’s Auto-Deploy Staircase makes retrieving equipment from the rooftop compartments safe and easy.|
One of the highlights of the show was at the Ferrara booth (photo 23). Chris Ferrara invited local legends Troy and Jacob Landry of the TV show “Swamp People” to be in the booth to sign hats and Ferrara literature. They patiently autographed, chatted, and took photos with attendees who lined up for the opportunity to meet them. I didn’t get to ask them if it is easier hunting alligators in the swamps of Louisiana or facing firefighters at the FDIC!
|(23) Television personalities Troy and Jacob Landry at the Ferrara booth autographing memorabilia for firefighters.|
Ferrara had several apparatus on display, including a 100-foot rear-mount ladder for the Fire Department of New York (photo 24). Ferrara has expanded its MVP (Multi-Vocational-Pumper) line to include a stainless-steel body for apparatus that are being used in areas of heavy road salt and contamination.
|(24) Ferrara expanded its Multi-Vocational-Pumper (MVP) series to include a stainless-steel body for areas that use road treatments in the winter.|
Another unit on display was a rescue pumper with the Hale QMax-XS pump with a narrow 28-inch-wide pump panel (photos 25, 26). It also had the Hale/Class I Ultra View electric pump panel control on both sides, allowing a firefighter to control the pump and all valves from either side of the apparatus.
|(25) The MVP pumper is designed to carry enough equipment to perform multiple tasks. The door decal says it all!|
|(26) This Ferrara unit had the narrow Hale QMax-XS 28-inch pump house, allowing for maximum use of compartment space. It also had an automated pump panel, allowing operation from either side of the unit.|
In Lucas Oil Stadium, Pierce had a large display of its product line (photo 27). Most of its show apparatus were units that included modifications and improvements of its currently successful products.
|(27) Pierce displayed its CF (cab forward) chassis with the Detroit Diesel, EPA-compliant, 500-hp engine.|
The Saber, which is a workhorse of the line, has improved maneuverability, multiplexed electrical system, raised air intake, and longer cab models available.
The Dash CF that was unveiled last year is now available with a Detroit DD-13 500-hp engine (photo 28). In addition, there was a Dash CF 105-foot aerial with the PUC pump design that had a retro look without a front grille.
|(28) This “retro-look” CF has no front grille, which is the perfect mounting location for a Roto-Ray!|
The Velocity had a few changes since it was introduced in 2006 (photo 29). The raised roof section was moved forward, and the air-conditioner was raised, allowing for additional headroom in the cab. In addition, the engine cover was lowered to open up the cab more.
|(29) The Pierce Velocity had some redesign in the crew cab. The raised roof was moved forward, the air-conditioner was raised, and the engine cover was lowered to allow more room and comfort for the crew.|
Two unique rigs were on display manufactured by Sartin Services (photo 30). One was a mass casualty response bus with stacked stretchers and a medical treatment area. The second was an Emergency Support Unit, a combination rehab and breathing air fill unit (photo 31). It had what looked like luxury seating for rehab, including oxygen piped to each position, a refrigerator/freezer, a full-size bathroom, an SCBA fill station, as well as a gurney and medical treatment area in the front for medical transport capabilities. From the rear, the seats looked like those found in an airliner.
|(30) The Sartin mass casualty response vehicle with several stretchers mounted to each wall.|
|(31) Sartin’s rehab unit has comfortable seating with oxygen piped to each position, a restroom, a refrigerator/freezer, a breathing air fill station, and a medical treatment/transport area.|
APR Plastic Fabricating
APR Plastic Fabricating displayed a mini-pumper with plastic body and integral water tank (photo 32).
|(32) APR Plastic Fabricating displayed a mini-pumper with plastic body and integral water tank.|
Elkhart Brass HEROPipe
The Elkhart Brass HEROPipe was designed to allow high-rise firefighting from the floor below the fire (photo 33). The waterway, base unit, and stabilizers are assembled on the floor below the fire and the lightweight waterway pipe extends out the window and pivots up to the floor above, where it delivers up to 700 gpm to extinguish the fire from the outside.
|(33) A full mock-up display of the Elkhart Brass HEROPipe showed how a high-rise fire could be fought from the floor below.|
Seagrave displayed a Maurader II 1,750-gpm stainless-steel pumper that was marked with Camden (NJ) striping and markings and had a 100-foot Meanstick aerial ladder (photo 34).
|(34) Seagrave’s 1,750-gpm pumper for Camden, New Jersey.|
Fire Research always has lots of new products to inspect. Its Spectra LED scene lighting really proved the point that the fire scene can be sufficiently illuminated using LED technology with as little as 12 volts. For pumpers without a generator, this is a real home run! The company’s latest LED compartment and ground lighting were also on display.
Smeal had several pieces of apparatus on display (photo 35). Two of them, a pumper and a rear-mount ladder, were on chassis produced by American LaFrance. The front grille and headlight assembly were different from American LaFrance, and they had the Smeal logo on the front.
|(35) Smeal displayed its Sentron II chassis on a pumper and an aerial truck.|
WILLIAM C. PETERS retired after 28 years with the Jersey City (NJ) Fire Department, having served the last 17 years as battalion chief/apparatus supervisor. He served as a voting member of the NFPA 1901 apparatus committee for several years and is the author of the Fire Apparatus Purchasing Handbook (Fire Engineering) and numerous apparatus-related articles. He is on the editorial advisory boards of FDIC, Fire Engineering, and Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment.