Vital program for effective apparatus maintenance
A YARDSTICK FOR IMPROVEMENT
BACKBONE of any fire department is the maintenance section which keeps the apparatus “rolling” under all foreseeable and unforeseeable conditions. The importance of maintenance is recognized by all fire service authorities and in Rochester it occupies a prime position in the overall strategy of fire protection.
The apparatus and engineering division is located at the fire-police training academy, and occupies the entire ground floor of the main administration building. The large unobstructed repair shop is equipped with the very latest machinery and tools for efficient operation. Two hydraulic lifts can accommodate the heaviest of apparatus and 100-foot aerial ladder trucks can be handled with ease. Adjacent to the main shop is a modern automotive paint shop containing a very efficient ventilating system and explosion-proof lights.
The highly skilled personnel of this division are responsible for a very strict preventive maintenance schedule, general repair work and the designing and building of fire apparatus. All 76 pieces of apparatus of the fire bureau are regularly scheduled for a preventive maintenance check-up. Complete lubrication, crankcase oil change, inspection and testing are done twice yearly. All pumpers required to operate over an extended period of time are completely serviced and tested before being returned to duty. The best lubricants obtainable are used to ensure trouble-free performance, less repairs and replacement expense.
Maintenance records are kept of all repairs to apparatus. Work sheets are made out by the shop supervisor and forwarded to a maintenance clerk who posts the remarks on the card pertaining to each particular vehicle serviced. Consolidation of these records enables us to maintain a detailed account of
“Lou” Vogt lends a unique combination of business and fire fighting experience to the Rochester Fire Bureau. During his 16-year career as a volunteer fireman including the post of chief, West Webster, N. Y., Fire Department from 1926 to 1941, he conducted his own business manufacturing fire apparatus. He was appointed master mechanic of the fire bureau in 1941 and elevated to deputy chief in charge of the division of apparatus and engineering in 1949. He is a member of the Fire Department Equipment Committee and the Fire Hose Committee, NFPA, as well as chairman, Subcommittee on Heavy Stream devices. He has invented and developed a hydraulic controlled ladder pipe, a hydraulic controlled fog nozzle, and a pumper motor governor, vacuum shift for pumpers and lightweight hose rollers. He is also the designer of the pump test room at the fire academy.
repairs and service which can be readily obtained when needed.
Each year the Rochester Fire Bureau fabricates one or two pumpers and purchases one aerial ladder truck every two years. As a result of this production schedule, no first-line pumper is more than 10 years old and none of the first-line aerial ladder trucks is older than 13 years. Apparatus removed from first-line status are reconditioned and placed in “ready reserve.”
Each pumper is equipped with a vacuum clutch with finger-tip control on the dashboard in the cab and a remote control on the operating panel. Divided hose beds make possible a regular or reverse hose lay of 2½-inch hose without using extra fittings. A bed for 1½-inch hose is also provided.
The latest ideas to promote safety for operating personnel are engineered into each pumper. In addition to the latest-type relief valves, a hydraulic governor designed and built in the shops is an integral part of the control panel.
When completely assembled, each pumper is subjected to rigid tests. Upon completion, the apparatus is returned to the paint shop for the finishing and final assembly. Further testing is performed before the hose, tools and accessories are added. Before a new unit is put in service, the personnel of the fire company to which the apparatus is assigned will work many hours with the training division in order to become familiar with its operation.
All plans and specifications for automotive equipment in the fire bureau are written by this division. A close liaison is maintained with the training division and the final specifications are forwarded to fire bureau heads for review and presentation to the city administration. Contracts are awarded on competitive bids by interested suppliers.
One of the unique features of the shops is the pumper test room. A wall of glass brick separates this room from the main apparatus floor. It incorporates a space 48 feet long and 19 feet wide with an opening into a 20,000-gallon pit below the grade level of the building. By use of the pit, pumpers can be tested at draft during inclement weather, and at other times when more precise recordings of performance are desired than are available at outdoor sites.
The pit is divided into three sections, return water passing under a first partition, into a middle pit and over the top of the second partition which is equipped with a grid, to the outside and into the drafting pit. Without this particular construction the water would possibly become hot, and all the entrained air would not be removed, thus causing the pump to overheat. A panelboard with gages and other instruments is located on the wall, and a reading of the nozzle pressure, the rpm, temperature, etc., can be observed at a glance.
During the winter months when it is impossible to conduct classes in pump operations, hose layouts, etc., out of doors, the test room is used for purposes of instruction. The room contains a hydrant with 4 1/2-inch and 2 1/2-inch outlets and a static pressure of 35 pounds, which is used for hydrant practice.
A large part of the energies of the apparatus and engineering division are devoted to experimentation and research work. Much of this work is done in cooperation with the National Fire Protection Association, the National Board of Fire Underwriters and leading manufacturers in the country. A recent example would be the study of the capacities of heavy stream nozzles. In order to accomplish this, a complete test stand was designed and built.
Mechanics of the study involved the mounting of the stream appliance (nozzle, barrel and fittings) on a section of metal ladder so pivoted at the bottom that the stream and nozzle back pressures could be recorded on a dynamometer, while pressures both at the nozzle tip and at the intake of the barrel could be read from gages on the framework.
By this means it was possible to secure fairly accurate comparative figures on recoil, or nozzle reaction, at various nozzle pressures. For the majority of the tests, two fire bureau pumpers were used; two additional pumpers were added for the full-scale stream experiments. It was also possible to gage the comparative range of streams and their other characteristics by use of photographs, etc.
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In 1957 a new hydraulically controlled portable ladder pipe, designed and perfected by the division, was demonstrated at the annual Fire Department Instructors Conference in Memphis, Tenn. This portable ladder pipe is operated by remote control from the control stand on the turntable of a truck. The direction of the stream can be raised or lowered and the fog pattern can be altered from full fog through all positions to straight stream.
Recently the Subcommittees on Heavy Stream Devices and Fog Nozzles of the Committee on Fire Department Equipment, NFPA, jointly tested the flow characteristics of a large number of high-volume fog nozzles. Engineers from the Taylor Instrument Company supervised function of these tests to insure proper recording of the data.
The operatons of the apparatus and engineering division are designed to provide the fire bureau with the most modern and effective fire fighting apparatus and tools available, as well as proper maintenance of all apparatus. In addition, one of the most essential functions contributing to effective fire fighting—emergency repair work and service—is maintained 24 hours per day as well as on the fire scene.