In January, a number of fire service journalists were invited to the Rosenbauer America facility in Lyons, South Dakota, to examine and view demonstrations of three unique pieces of apparatus that are part of the manufacturer’s “Tech-Drive ’05” campaign. The three units were a commercial pumper on a Freightliner chassis, a custom pumper on a Spartan low-profile 4 4 chassis, and a 100-foot rear-mount aerial.

The purpose of Tech-Drive ’05 is to demonstrate how Rosenbauer uses design and technology features to make firefighting apparatus safer and more efficient.

Many of the options incorporated into these vehicles are commercially produced and are available from most manufacturers. Although some manufacturers routinely employ similar individual segments of these features, it was unique to see so many of them incorporated into a single piece of apparatus.


Below are a number of features that are common to all three apparatus on display.

Color cameras with sound, mounted to the right side and rear of the apparatus with a bright display in the cab, allow the driver to view obstacles in “blind” areas while backing up.

Rear obstacle sensors with an audible warning in the cab alert the driver to a pending collision.

Storage space includes extensive use of shelves, roll-out trays, swing-out tool boards, and equipment storage mounting.

(1) High-visibility reflective chevron pattern is applied to the rear of the apparatus to increase visibility when operating on a roadway. A ladder for access to the hosebed makes it more accessible than smaller steps. A 2,000-gpm, remote-controlled monitor is topmounted above the pump and does not require a firefighter to climb up to operate (Photos courtesy of Rosenbauer America.)

Reflective safety chevrons in an alternating red/yellow pattern completely cover the rear of the apparatus, enhancing visibility on the highway. A red reflective chevron pattern is displayed on the front bumper as well. Reflective material used in the side rub rails provides visibility even when the compartments are open (photo 1).

(2) External high-visibility LED tank lights show the level of water remaining in the tank and can be seen from a distance.

Light-emitting diode (LED) technology is used for warning lights and DOT vehicle lighting. The new generation of LED products enhances the warning capabilities and reliability of the lights and reduces maintenance costs and amperage needs. LED strip lighting is also installed in all compartments, providing even, well-lit compartments. Oversized, color-coded LED tank level gauges are mounted to the side of each apparatus to indicate the amount of water left in the tank from a distance (photo 2).

(3) The diagrammatic color-coded pump panel expedites operations. The single switch control for normal and high-pressure pump operations can be seen to the left of the main display.

Diagrammatic, color-coded pump panels provide a top view of the apparatus with color-coded schematic type lines running from the location of the discharge on the diagram to the appropriate operating control and pressure gauge (photo 3).

Stainless-steel or high-pressure hose is used in all plumbing in the pump compartment, which reduces the rusting or corrosion problems of the past.

Vented caps on all discharges are another enhancement in firefighter safety. When removing a cap, water pressure will discharge from the vent instead of blowing the cap off when the last thread is removed.

Preconnected lines are located at the front bumper and rear step to get them away from the pump operator’s position.

(4) The custom pumper has a rear-mounted pump with all intakes and discharges at the back of the apparatus. The automated diagrammatic pump is at the right side rear to keep the operator away from the traffic. The external cab compartment behind the officer�s door is handy for storing equipment. Since the pump is not mid-mounted, a full-width transverse forward compartment is available. The lower part of the body folds down to provide a full width, substantial step under each compartment.

Ladders used in place of steps to reach the turntable, hosebed, and higher points on the apparatus will enhance the safety of firefighters when climbing atop the apparatus.

Foam systems, each with a remote fill system, eliminate the need to hoist pails of foam to the top of the apparatus to fill the foam tank.

(5) A wireless remote control for the aerial ladder and monitor controls can be strapped on and operated from 300 feet away, allowing better visibility for ladder and stream placement.

Tilt-table testing of all apparatus ensures a safe center of gravity and reduces the possibility of rollover. In this testing, the same that airport crash trucks must undergo, the apparatus is driven on a “table” and loosely attached with chains. The table is then tilted to one side. The apparatus must remain stable, without putting a strain on the chains, to pass the test.


There were also some unique features on each apparatus designed and engineered by the Rosenbauer group.

Commercial pumper. The commercial pumper is equipped with a Rosenbauer-designed NH-40 1,000-gpm pump. The pump housing is made of lightweight alloy material, a stainless-steel shaft, and high-grade alloy impellers and diffusers. This design has been used in Europe for many years.

The NH-40 has a single-stage, normal-pressure impeller and a three-stage, high-pressure section. The pump is capable of providing 1,000 gpm at between 70 and 200 psi and 100 gpm at between 200 to 600 psi for high-pressure operations simultaneously.

The high-pressure side operates at 100 gpm through a 200-foot length of one-inch high-pressure booster hose or a bumper turret operated from inside the cab. The unit has pump-and-roll capability from the bumper turret up to 10 mph in forward or reverse while discharging water or foam. This can be extremely useful for quick knockdown operations in urban-wildland interface areas.

This pump can also incorporate a Rosenbauer Fix-Mix around-the-pump foam proportioning system. When used with the high-pressure feature, it produces a foam that is a cross between standard Class A foam and compressed air foam (CAFS). The foam system was demonstrated discharging 100 gpm through the high-pressure booster and standard Class A foam from a 134-inch handline at the same time. It produces an excellent foam stream from each.

The Fix-Mix foam system is a rather simple flow-regulated design that does not require electrical monitoring or power from the apparatus. The pump discharge pressure acts on a measuring cone in the foam regulator, moving it off of a spring-loaded seat. This in turn opens a valve that introduces the correct amount of foam concentrate into the pump intake. This provides the correct foam concentration to the standard and high-pressure discharges on the pump simultaneously.

The Fix-Mix foam system is optional on the pump and is reported to cost less than other systems. Rosenbauer is presently working on developing a 1,250-gpm version of this system.

Another unique feature of the Rosenbauer pump was an automatic priming system. Those of us accustomed to operating an electric primer while increasing the engine rpm and slowly opening a discharge to get a centrifugal pump primed from draft will surely appreciate this feature!

The Rosenbauer automatic priming system has a double-acting piston pump driven by a belt off the pump gear case. All of the parts are enclosed in a housing that is oil-bath lubricated. No priming oil is necessary. When the pump achieves prime, it automatically disengages. If prime is lost during the operation, the unit will automatically operate until the pump is primed again.

Additional features installed on the commercial pumper include the following:

• remote-controlled deck monitor;

• booster reel under cab door where it is accessible.

• ladder, backboard, and hard suction hose storage enclosed in the body;

• “floating” step hose wells that resist damage if the bottom comes in contact with debris or a pile of snow-they just rise up out of the step and drop back down;

• hydraulic generator and cord reel;

• scene lighting; and

• remote-controlled light tower.

Custom pumper. The custom pumper is built on a Spartan low-profile 4 4 chassis with a low center of gravity and equipped with a Waterous 2,000-gpm pump fitted with a Rosenbauer MAX CAFS compressed air foam system.

The MAX CAFS system has a 200-cfm rotary screw air compressor that is PTO driven off the transmission instead of the pump drive. The compressor can be operated without the fire pump’s being engaged to supply compressed air for air-operated tools, etc. The MAX CAFS system automatically adjusts the air and water pressure to equal amounts, with individual air adjustment valves to enable the operator to adjust for the desired foam consistency.

The rear-mounted pump has all intake and discharge connections at the rear of the apparatus, keeping the wheelbase shorter and maximizing compartment space. The forward compartment is transverse, allowing the fire department to design the compartment for backboards and longer equipment that will be accessible from both sides (photo 4).

Another European design incorporated into this apparatus is a fold-down step on the lower part of the compartment, providing a full-width substantial step to reach items stored on the upper shelves of the compartments.

The diagrammatic pump panel on the curbside keeps the operator out of traffic, is fully automated and color-coded, and makes operations easier and more efficient.

Some additional features on this apparatus include the following:

• an external cab compartment on the officer’s side to access gear and equipment;

• a wireless remote-controlled 2,000-gpm monitor;

• wheel chocks stored in wheel well compartments;

• top exhaust discharge;

• hydraulic generator;

• scene lighting; and

• remote-controlled light tower.

Custom rear-mount aerial. On this four-section steel aerial, all of the aerial sections are immersed in hot molten galvanizing compound after assembly, which protects all inner and outer surfaces against rusting and corrosion for the life of the aerial. Rosenbauer indicates that it also requires less maintenance such as cleaning and greasing and does not require repainting, which should reduce overall maintenance costs.

The hot dip galvanizing went one step further: the torque box, generally inaccessible when the apparatus is complete, and the outriggers are also galvanized to prevent rusting and corrosion.

A wireless remote control for the aerial ladder, monitor, and nozzle were also demonstrated. An operator can strap on a control unit and essentially take the turntable controls with him up to 300 feet away. This could come in handy if the operator is trying to position the aerial in a tight location where he can obtain a better view than is possible from the turntable (photo 5).

Some of the other features of this apparatus included the following:

• easy load, right-side hose storage area at the rear of the apparatus;

• Darley 1,500-gpm pump;

• Robwen foam system;

• envelope safety protection to prevent the aerial from contacting the truck cab or body during operations;

• 312-inch fly section pinnable waterway that reduces friction loss and increases monitor flow; and

• laser tracking of the aerial where a fine laser beam is projected on the building where the aerial is going to make contact.


Another product that was demonstrated, although not part of the Tech-Tour, was the Rosenbauer Ultra High-Pressure System (UHPS). This is a slide-on, self-contained unit that can produce a 10-gpm stream at 1,400 psi. An integrated foam system for Class A or B foam concentrate can proportion foam from 0.1 percent to 6 percent, discharging through a small reel-mounted, lightweight hose (similar to a standard pressure washer), fitted with a special pistol grip nozzle.

This unit is used by the military and has been demonstrated extinguishing fuel and aircraft engine fires. It provides an effective firefighting system that can be carried to inaccessible locations by small 4 4 or ATV-type vehicles.

• • •

The Tech-Tour ’05 trip was a very enlightening experience. As I said at the beginning of the article, many of these features can be incorporated into your apparatus specifications and provided by most manufacturers, but the Rosenbauer group brought them to the forefront by highlighting them on all of the apparatus to increase firefighter safety and efficiency.

WILLIAM C. PETERS recently retired after 28 years with the Jersey City (NJ) Fire Department, having served the last 17 years as battalion chief/supervisor of apparatus, with the responsibility of purchasing and maintaining the apparatus fleet. He served as a voting member of the NFPA 1901 apparatus committee for several years, representing apparatus users. He is the author of Fire Apparatus Purchasing Handbook (Fire Engineering 1994); two chapters on apparatus in The Fire Chief’s Handbook, Fifth and Sixth Editions (Fire Engineering, 1995); the instructional video Factory Inspections of New Fire Apparatus (Fire Engineering, 1998); and numerous apparatus-related articles. He is an advisory board member of Fire Engineering and the FDIC and lectures extensively on apparatus purchase and safety issues.

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