Specialized, Smaller Rigs Coming to Prominence

By Chris Mc Loone

The Fire Department Instructors Conference provides attendees with a balanced mix of honing and improving firefighter skills and learning about the newest product innovations through the largest fire service exhibition in North America.

Mitch Willoughby, Director of Sales, HME, Inc. says, “With the whole basis of the conference dedicated for firefighters to improve their firefighting skills, the exhibits offer the same experience. I think it’s very important for all the attendees to educate themselves on the latest and improved products that our industry has to offer, After all, they are the tools of our trade. With our ever-changing technology and advancements [FDIC is] one of the single best opportunities to take the time to visit the OEMs that provide the equipment, [firefighters] choose to use. Much like the Instructors, you have one of the single largest collective group of OEMs representing the best of the best.”

To that end, HME is debuing a new lineup of products at this year’s show. “At the top of the list we are very proud to be unveiling our exclusive HME aerial product line,” says Willoughby. “in addition to the 80’ heavy-duty ladder we have here on display, we are also debuting a totally redesigned popular layout back to the industry with our 51’ Tele-Stream. With several other designs in production this year we will be introducing our entire array of ladders and platforms.”

He continues, “We also have some very unique specialized apparatus including the ExtremeRat, with its 4×4 beach-combing capabilities, and a very small yet extremely versatile little rescue unit we refer to as the PackRat because of its amazing storage space. We are also sporting a whole new look on our renowned chassis models with tons of additional options to choose from. Last, but certainly not least, we are introducing the first phase of our Revolutionary Stainless Versatile Pumper (RSVP) which will be specifically designed to fit the customers equipment carrying needs.”

FDIC is always a good opportunity for vendors and attendees alike to spot emerging trends in the market. “Regarding apparatus, offering high end custom product allows you to meet your customer’s needs and HME Ahrens-Fox provides this on a daily basis,” says Willoughby. “But, obviously not everyone faces the same fire environments or has the same terrain and type of area to protect as well as the same operating budgets. For the past couple of years we have seen a higher demand for specialized vehicles. The combination apparatus certainly have their place—these types of apparatus are offered because not everyone faces the same challenges when they roll on a call and they need that versatility. With that said, we are seeing a realization that it may not be prudent to take out the bigger rigs on certain calls, especially when they may be your majority of calls. So, our requests for and the popularity for smaller specialized apparatus has greatly increased.”

Although the show is always a good time for product introductions, Willoughby also cites the family atmosphere of the show as important. “The Fire Department Instructors Conference is always a great time to kick off your new products,” he says, “as well as reuniting with your fellow firefighters, customers, and even competitors. Having attended this show for almost three decades it’s almost like a family reunion with all the fantastic customers and vendors that I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. I do think this conference provides some of the finest training available today. The passion and commitment in the Instructors to provide the best training possible is priceless.”

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