Rescue Truck Carries Power to Spare
Photos courtesy Clifford B. Hannay & Son Inc.
Satellite cable reel system an innovation at Union City, N. J.
ADEQUATE electric power for lighting and power-tool operation is a problem in fighting fires anywhere. In Union City, the most densely populated city in the United States, and located just across the Hudson from the heart of New York City, it was a major problem particularly at multiple-alarm fires. When we designed our new rescue truck, we decided to do something about it.
Adequate electric power begins with the generating equipment. We chose a pair of 115/280-volt, single-phase, 60-cycle a. c., air-cooled units. These are installed in cabinets, in each side of the truck, directly behind the cab. The generators are mounted on tracks to slide outboard for free access and operation.
The feature that makes our truck unique is the manner in which we get the power from the generator to the point where it’s needed. We do it with six electric cable reels in a system we’ve dubbed the satellite system.
Continued on page 1105
Continued from page 1079
Here’s how it works:
Rear cabinets, on each side of the truck, house a reel which handles 250 feet of 12/2 SO cable and is equipped with an electric rewind motor and auxiliary hand-crank rewind. These are the main power reels connected to the generators.
In addition to these main power reels, two specially designed portable cable reels are located on a shelf in each of the rear cabinets. These are the satellite reels and each carries 100 feet of 12/2 SO cable. In use, the cable on the satellite reel is connected to the cable on the main power reel. The fireman carries the satellite reel to the point of use and plugs in lights or tools, using one or more of the three outlets on the reel frame. Thus, using only the main power reel and a single satellite reel, three pieces of electrical equipment can be powered at a distance of 350 feet from the truck. It would be possible to run 650 feet of cable from the truck using all four satellite reels and one main power reel. This would be an unusual situation, however.
At major fires, the pattern we most frequently use is to connect two satellite reels to each of the main power reels. This gives us the potential of five lights and/or tools in operation on each side of the truck at a distance of up to 450 feet. By using multiple plugs we can add even more equipment, but it’s important to avoid overloading the generators.
The reel system of cable handling is equally valuable when it comes time to pick up. Our rescue truck responds to every alarm and it’s essential to return to in-service status as quickly as possible. The reels let us rewind the cable in half the time it would take to coil and stow cable leads. I have no doubt that the reels will give us longer cable life, too, although the equipment is too new to give us accurate statistics on this point.
The main power reels are similar to reels for booster hose, with a sealed collector ring housing replacing the swing joint and fluid piping. The satellite reels are custom built and the result of design ideas we developed by working with Hannay, the manufacturer.
Lightweight and compact
These portable reels had to be compact and lightweight and still handle 100 feet of cable. By installing the collector rings inside the reel drum, we are able to keep the overall dimension to 19 inches by 10¾ inches by 21½ inches. The 19-inch dimension is the disc diameter and, by placing the rewind knob on the perimeter of the disc, we accomplished the best possible turning ratio for rewinding.
The weight of the reel was reduced by using aluminum disc and drum construction and a cast aluminum frame and handle. The service weight of the reel, cable and fittings is less than 45 pounds. The cast aluminum frame is a specially designed L-shaped unit. The reel axle is supported by the vertical leg and the horizontal leg has wide spread “web feet” for secure balance. This L-shape eliminated frame elements and fittings on the rewind side of the reel for easy rewinding.
The satellite cable reel system is just one of the features we designed to make our rescue truck meet the particular requirements of fire service in Union City.
Though it’s seen less than a year of service, we’re convinced that it’s doing the job. When the bell sounds, we know we’ll have adequate electric power, and that we can put the power where we need it with minimum time and effort.