Chassis Components, Fire Department, Tankers

California’s Budget And Firehouse World

Issue 4 and Volume 14.

Components painted yellow
Components painted yellow are part of the new SCR system that will be used to meet 2010 emissions requirements. The tank will be heated and equipped with a pump to inject a urea solution into the exhaust system.
A version of the Type 34 wildland unit
A version of the Type 34 wildland unit, this one made by West Coast builder Hi-Tech in Oakdale, Calif. (Fire Apparatus Photo by Bob Barraclough)
A stock midship engine American LaFrance pumper
A stock midship engine American LaFrance pumper patterned after some 50 units delivered to Phoenix. (Fire Apparatus Photo by Bob Barraclough)
tailboard box for hazardous waste disposal
The tailboard box labeled “SJS” on San Jose pumpers is for hazardous waste disposal, such as gloves.
6x6 Freightliner is equipped with remote controlled bumper spray nozzles
LA County’s big 6×6 Freightliner 2,500-gallon tanker built by West Mark is equipped with remote controlled bumper spray nozzles similar to those used on construction water trucks.
Attack hose is looped over the brackets
I-Zone brackets are a must for wildland vehicles. Attack hose is looped over the brackets for quick deployment as the rig moves from one area to another.

It was certainly a different atmosphere as I talked with many fire department people during the recent Firehouse World Expo in San Diego.

Gone was the suggestion of expanding Cal Fire (formerly California Department of Forestry) and perhaps its merger with the Office of Emergency Services (OES). Instead it was more like, “How are we going to survive the budget cuts being considered by Governor Schwarzenegger and still keep the state from burning up?” Many people pointed out that California now has a 12-month fire season, which results in apparatus and staff being overworked with overtime costs climbing faster than an Apollo rocket on the way to the moon.

One of the news media suggested that the “Governator” is trying to tax his way out of the $41 billion deficit expected by 2010. And this is in a state where the foreclosure rate is the highest in the nation.

I’m not sure how this will all be resolved, but it isn’t going to be pretty getting there. That’s too bad, as California has one of the best mutual aid systems in the country, and it has taken many years and lots of talented people to get them where they are.

In California, politicians and fire organizations don’t play well together.

If you take the politicians out of the scenario, the situation could probably be handled by a few good managers and some right decisions. Think about this: San Diego has had two serious brush fires in the last five years, and one of them could have easily burned right through the La Jolla area (think billions of dollars in property damages) until the fire ran out of fuel at the Pacific Ocean.

Politicians, including Arnold, promised help with resources (men and equipment) in order to mitigate the problem. However, as an example, San Diego City is still 22 stations short of the recommended level for a city of 1.34 million people, and who knows how far behind the San Diego County fire departments are, considering their 3.15 million residents.

The former San Diego chief, Jeff Bowman, prepared an innovative plan where 50 engines would be purchased and, when needed, they could be manned by off-duty personnel. But that was turned down by the politicians.

Returning to the subject of fire trucks, it was good to see American LaFrance with four trucks at the show. One of the pumpers was a mid-engine Eagle chassis unit similar to those supplied to the Phoenix Fire Department.

Unless I missed them, there were no wood ground ladders on any of the new units. Maybe that is because Los Angeles City Fire Department did not have a tiller on display.

However, there was one very unusual (old, but streamlined) Kenworth chassis rig that was lettered for the Beverly Hills FD. It did have a rather large, all brass, deluge gun fed by inlets just ahead of the rear wheels. And this rig did have a wood ground ladder.

With the economy sinking, folks are looking for ways to cut costs of buying apparatus. Perhaps one method is to buy off the Government Services Administration (GSA) schedule. Using the GSA listings, municipalities can bypass the expense and time required to write and publish specifications. All one has to do is choose a pumper, aerial or rescue truck from the GSA schedule that most closely meets their needs and send an order to the manufacturer. It sounds great until you need service, which GSA does not provide.

California law also allows “tag-ons” to bids from other cities. Again, preparing specs and bids are eliminated. Cities can use a spec prepared and legally bid by another department, including the price, make changes to suit local needs (there are some dollar limits on how many modifications are allowed) and issue the manufacturer a purchase order.

I’m not sure why, but many of the pumpers on exhibit were, as the West Coasters call them, Type 3 Wildland Interface Units or Cal Fire Type 34 apparatus. These rigs are usually 4×4, four-door, International chassis with 500 gallons of water and 500 to 1,000-gpm midship pumps. They also have smaller auxiliary engine driven pumps (called aux pumps) to provide pump-and-roll capability.

Most of the interface pumpers had what firefighters call “I-Zone” brackets, which are used to wrap 1.5-inch hose in big loops across the back of the engine as the rigs are moved rapidly from one place to another. It is a good West Coast idea.

Hi-Tech displayed one of their well-built new pumpers that was destined for San Jose. On the rear tailboard they had a diamond plate box that was for medical waste such as rubber gloves. This is a good feature, and it was a new one for me.

West-Mark of Ceres, Calif., had a 2,500-gallon Freightliner M-2 6×6 tanker (tender) on display that was destined for Los Angeles County FD. Equipped with a Hale AP 500 PTO pump, it included remote-controlled spray heads in both wheel wells and on the corners of the front bumper. It was a big truck with a high center of gravity. Imagine this rig traveling off the highway and through the brush chasing a fire.

In case you have not been following the 2010 diesel engine lineup, Pierce has acquired the rights to sell and install the Detroit Diesel Series 13 engines in their rigs. Oshkosh, parent company of Pierce, agreed to share costs with Detroit Diesel to get this engine ready and approved under the 2010 emission standards. In return, the Pierce dealers will have exclusive sales rights to this, the only Detroit Diesel that will be available for fire truck chassis. Good marketing move by Wilson Jones and Oshkosh/Pierce.

Spartan Chassis announced at their recent dealer meeting, that they would

LA County’s big 6×6 Freightliner 2,500-gallon tanker built by West Mark is equipped with remote controlled bumper spray nozzles similar to those used on construction water trucks.

be offering both the Cummins and International MAXXFORCE engines in their 2010 chassis lineup. The International folks claim that their engine will not require the use of a SCR/urea tank system to meet the 2010 EPA requirements.

California is obviously not the only state with budget woes. Yes, the current local, state and national fiscal problems will have an effect on truck and equipment sales for the next few years. Now is the time to review the long-range plan (at least five years out) and decide what is the best course of action for your situation.

Keep in mind, safety comes first. You must not compromise safety to give the politicians the cash they want for their earmarks.

I-Zone brackets are a must for wildland vehicles. Attack hose is looped over the brackets for quick deployment as the rig moves from one area to another.

Editor’s Note: Bob Barraclough is a 40year veteran of the fire service and fire manufacturing industry. He is chief columnist for Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment magazine and a 20-year member of the NFPA 1901 Fire Apparatus Standards Committee. A principal organizer of the annual FDSOA Apparatus Specification Symposium, he is also a past president of the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers’ Association. Barraclough serves as a consultant to Rosenbauer America and Akron Brass and is called upon as an expert witness in litigation involving fire industry products. His career includes executive positions at E-ONE, Hale Fire Pumps, National Foam, Span Instruments and Class 1.

More Fire Apparatus Current Issue Articles
More Fire Apparatus Archives Issue Articles