Special Delivery: Safety Features Abound on Dover (OH) CAFS Rescue Pumper

An unusual safety feature on the Dover Fire Department’s rescue pumper, by Summit, is a custom-built safety rail that rises into position when the top of the rig is to be accessed via the rear ladder.
An unusual safety feature on the Dover Fire Department’s rescue pumper, by Summit, is a custom-built safety rail that rises into position when the top of the rig is to be accessed via the rear ladder. [Photos courtesy of the Dover (OH) Fire Department.]
Summit Fire Apparatus constructed an extended bumper for the Dover Fire Department’s rescue pumper, holding two 100-foot hydraulic hose reels, preconnected to spreader and cutting tools.
Summit Fire Apparatus constructed an extended bumper for the Dover Fire Department’s rescue pumper, holding two 100-foot hydraulic hose reels, preconnected to spreader and cutting tools.
The Dover Fire Department chose roll-up doors and slide-out trays for the compartments on its new Summit rescue pumper.
The Dover Fire Department chose roll-up doors and slide-out trays for the compartments on its new Summit rescue pumper.

The truck committee for the small Dover (OH) Fire Department knew it needed a combination vehicle—a rescue pumper—to replace two 1985 pumpers set up for structure fires and vehicle rescue, respectively. Yet, department members wanted to be sure the new rig carried as many safety features as it could afford.

Four manufacturers picked up bid specifications from the department in July 2009, and all contacted the committee to talk about what they could offer and how they could accomplish the goals the department had. But only one manufacturer—Summit Fire Apparatus—came through with a formal response that gave Dover precisely what it was looking for: a 2010 rescue pumper carrying a pre-2010 emissions engine, a Hale 1,500-gpm pump, a 700-gallon water tank, a 30-gallon Class A foam tank, a 20-gallon Class B tank, and a Hale 210-cfm CAFSPro compressed air foam system.

“Probably the most unusual feature of the truck is the rear fall protection barrier,” says Dover Chief Russ Volkert. “We determined the most likely place a fall could happen to be the rear of the apparatus from the hosebed.”

Volkert says the department considered tethering points and safety belts for firefighters working on top of the rig, but such a system didn’t seem workable. The truck committee decided the vehicle needed an actual physical barrier of some sort, so it built the concept into the truck specifications and left the engineering and design of the barrier up to the successful bidder.

“Summit actually wraps the body around the back of the truck as a barrier above the hosebed, and when the Ziamatic ladder is folded out from the body to get up to the hosebed, a hand rail deploys automatically at the rear of the bed,” Volkert points out. “Open the ladder, and a proximity sensor triggers an air cylinder, which raises the hand rail. Close the ladder, and the hand rail retracts.”

Volkert notes the system has a manual override, if needed. The hosebed also is shielded by a R-O-M Roll-o-matic hosebed hard cover that has electric motors that raise and lower it.

“The cover rolls up at the head of the hosebed, so we lose a little bit of access at the front of the hosebed, but it’s not an issue, only a slight inconvenience,” he says.

Another important safety feature, Volkert maintains, is the extended front bumper that carries the vehicle’s rescue tools. The bumper holds two hydraulic hose reels, each carrying 100 feet of hydraulic hose, preconnected to a spreader and a cutter. Having all the hydraulic rescue equipment centrally located, and preconnected, at the front of the rescue pumper means less legwork in getting to equipment, which might otherwise be located on both sides of the vehicle, Volkert says. It also allows nosing into a scene to provide better access for firefighters.

“It’s very easy to access the rescue equipment, with everything located at the front of the pumper,” Volkert notes. “And, it’s easily accessible from street level, so there’s no lifting the tools higher than waist height.”

The rescue pumper also is fitted with the Safe Exit Timer, developed jointly by GMElectric Inc. of Canton, Ohio, and SIM Digital of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The Safe Exit Timer is a system that gives an audible alarm when the breathing air in the SCBA packs of interior firefighters hits half capacity.

“We mounted it on the pump panel and tied it into the automotive horn on the truck,” Volkert says. “When the interior team enters the building, the pump operator sets the timer, and at the halfway point in their air, the Safe Exit Timer blows the horn five times over a period of a couple of seconds to signal the firefighters.”

Volker said the timer can be set to trigger any electrically operated device but that the department chose the vehicle’s horn because it’s a very different sound on a fire scene. The system is currently in the prototype stage, he notes, so it can only track a single interior fire team at a time, but he says the developer believes that, after more programming, the system can be set up to track multiple teams.

“The timer also is a good prompt for updating a personnel accountability report,” Volkert observes, “which is especially important in more complex incidents.”

Joe Messmer, Summit’s president, says the biggest challenge presented by the Dover rig was the safety barrier at the rear.

“When the Zico ladder is tilted out, it operates the [electrically actuated] air valve to extend the hand rail, but it’s also wired to the open-door circuit so the operator won’t drive away from the scene with the ladder down and the hand rail up,” Messmer says.

And, Summit’s designers also found a use for the big body radius at the top rear of the truck.

“We put our heads together and developed a panel that goes across the back, allowing two large directional arrows that span the width of the truck,” he says. “Those directionals are quite visible and don’t get lost in all the other lights and equipment at the back of the truck.”

Summit also custom mounted all of the tools and equipment for the department, something that Messmer says is getting to be common among fire departments.

“They wanted to be able to back it into the firehouse, do training on it, and then put it in service,” Messmer points out. “They didn’t want to spend a lot of manpower time mounting tools, so we took on that chore for them.”

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based freelance writer who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers and is a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.


Summit Fire Apparatus CAFS Rescue Pumper

• Rescue-style pumper body on Spartan Gladiator chassis
•Custom cab with 24-inch extension and 20-inch raised roof in crew area
•Custom medic cabinet in cab
•Cummins ISL 400-hp diesel engine
•Allison Gen IV automatic transmission
•Hale 1,500-gpm pump
•700-gallon water tank
•30-gallon Class A foam tank
•20-gallon Class B foam tank
•Hale CAFSPro 210-cfm compressed air foam system
•Smart Power 20-kilowatt hydraulic generator
•Custom rear fall protection barrier
•Ziamatic Zico automatic folding ladder
•R-O-M Roll-o-matic hosebed cover
•R-O-M roll-up compartment doors
•Extended bumper holding two hydraulic hose reels, each with 100 feet of hydraulic line, preconnected to spreader and cutting tools

Price without equipment: $460,000


Dover (OH) Fire Department

Strength: 19 paid firefighters; one station; providing fire suppression, vehicle rescue, and EMS protection.

Service area: Covers approximately 36 square miles of the city of Dover and surrounding rural area and provides mutual aid to the adjacent city of New Philadelphia, responding to approximately 2,000 calls a year.

Other apparatus: 2004 Smeal quint, 105-foot ladder, 1,500-gpm pump, 400-gallon water tank, 70-gallon Class A foam tank, 70-gallon Class B foam tank, CAFS; 1992 Sutphen pumper, 1,500-gpm pump, 750-gallon water tank, CAFS; 1999 Fire Vac vacuum tanker on International chassis, 1,000-gpm pump, 2,000-gallon tank; support truck with air cascade, specialty, and technical rescue equipment; Ford F-350 brush truck, hydraulically driven 140-gpm pump, 500-gpm portable pump, 260-gallon water tank; command and extended operations trailer.

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