The St. Louis (Mo.) Fire Department replaced its entire fleet of apparatus 11 years ago – 36 trucks, of which 34 have both pumping and aerial capabilities. The city implemented a quint-and-aerial system in the late 1980s, but that is about to change.
Last year, in an effort to even out the aerial response to fires in its six districts, the department purchased two Smeal 125-foot aerial ladders to complement its existing four aerials – two 125-foot straight sticks and two 100-foot platforms.
|The St. Louis Fire Department purchased two Smeal 125-foot straight stick ladders, bringing their aerial ladder truck complement to six.|
St. Louis Deputy Chief Mike Arras said the two new ladders were needed for balance. The city had only four aerials 100 feet or longer for the six districts.
Going Over Obstructions
“Many of our buildings are set back 75 feet from the street,” he said. “With a 125-footer, we can go over a pumper or other obstruction in order to get to the building.”
Arras, who serves as the chief in charge of apparatus and equipment, was on the truck specifications committee, along with a number of other officers and firefighters. He said three manufacturers responded with bids, and Smeal Fire Apparatus Co. of Snyder, Neb., was selected.
“Smeal was the one that met our needs,” he said, “and they had the right price.”
Bryan Smeal, the company’s regional sales director, said the 125-foot ladder is a special needs type of truck.
“Its vertical reach is very high, but it also has a long horizontal reach,” he said. “In some instances, you can extend up and over an obstruction and bring the nozzle back down to hit a specific spot.”
He noted that St. Louis had purchased two Smeal 125-foot straight sticks in 1999 when the department last replaced its fleet.
“The St. Louis people are very easy and good to work with,” Smeal said. “They are educated about what they want and are very involved in the details of the apparatus they’ll be using.”
Lloyd De Wald, sales manager for Leo M. Ellebracht Co. of Wentzville, Mo., the Smeal dealer for the state of Missouri, said St. Louis has a good concept in its desire to replace its fleet every 10 to 12 years.
“The extensive work they did in 1999 resulted in a good design and a functional truck that was durable and useful,” De Wald said. “It performed so well that they only had to make some tactical changes to the design specs for the two new 125-foot ladders.”
De Wald said St. Louis added a 24-inch bumper extension with a 2-1/2-inch preconnect and an Akron Brass Saberjet nozzle for either straight stream or fog selection.
“They also added a second deluge monitor so there’s now one on each side of the pump house, each putting out 1,250 gpm,” De Wald said. “That’s in addition to the pre-piped monitor on the ladder.”
Deputy Chief Arras said that when St. Louis officials developed their 1999 specs, one of their goals was to keep firefighters from climbing on the rigs as much as possible, especially when reloading hose. The resulting design included an ergonomic hose bed at the rear of the department’s 30 75-foot quints, but height limitations prevented that feature from being implemented on the aerials.
“With the ergonomic hose load on our quints, we can load our 4-inch hose without having to climb up on top of the apparatus,” Arras said. “The hose unit comes out of the rear of the apparatus hydraulically and drops down to waist height.”
|Specifications for the St. Louis aerials called for an extended bumper that could carry 200 feet of 2-1/2-inch preconnect with an Akron Saberjet nozzle.|
Arras said St. Louis loads 800 feet of 4-inch and 600 feet of 2-1/2-inch hose in the ergonomic hose bed.
“We also can load our pre-connects on the side of the rig while we’re standing on the street,” he said. “So we never have to climb up on the apparatus.”
The exception, however, are the 125-foot ladders.
“Because of height limitations and our old engine houses – most of them were built before 1929 – we can’t get a 12-foot to 12-foot, 4-inch aerial in them, so we had to lower the vehicle,” Arras said. “Once we did that, we weren’t able to put the ergonomic hose load on the aerial.”
While the quint and aerial system has worked well for St. Louis, Arras said it has been hard on the first-responding quints, particularly because of the increasing numbers of EMS calls. “We’ve been running the tires off of them,” he said. “The extra weight of the quints because of the ladders means we’re running the vehicles into the ground.”
Department officials decided it was time to move back toward pumpers. Arras said they are going for a mix of 18 pumpers and 12 quints while continuing to run 6 ladders, one in each district.
“The original change to quints and ladders in 1987 was due to a reduction in manpower where we tried to get the most bang for our buck out of the apparatus,” he said.
In the transition away from the quint-and-ladder system as the department begins another fleet replacement program, officials are initially seeking bids for nine pumpers.
“The standard pumper design we want will have a 2,000-gpm pump, a 500-gallon tank and the standard complement of ground ladders – a 28-foot extension, a 14-foot straight and a 10-foot collapsible,” Arras noted. “We require a larger Spartan-type cab design that can seat five firefighters and also hold an interior medical compartment that has street access.”
Arras said the department will enhance the rescue capability of the pumpers by adding extrication equipment to them, especially rams.
“We’re also adding a mobile command light and hard suction,” he said. “We’re in an earthquake zone and used to carry hard suction, but got away from it. We want to be able to pull water from a static source if we need to do so, whether from one of our lakes or from the Mississippi River.”
Arras added that the new pumpers will carry booster reels, something that’s standard on the department’s quints.
“We use booster reels a lot for dumpsters and car fires,” he said. “It’s always worked for us.”
St. Louis Fire Department, St. Louis, Missouri
Strength: 900 total personnel; 691 active paid firefighters and captains and five deputy chiefs providing fire suppression and emergency responses out of 30 stations; 111,102 calls for service annually with 49,270 classified as fire calls and 61,832 as emergency medical service.
Service area: Approximately 62 square miles with a population of 350,000 and a daytime population of nearly one million.
Other apparatus: 36 front line fire suppression apparatus staffed by a minimum of four firefighters per apparatus. Of the 36 pieces, 34 have pumping and aerial capabilities and two are heavy rescues. The apparatus include: 30 Smeal 75-foot ladder quints; two Smeal 100-foot aerial platforms; two Smeal 125-foot straight stick ladders; and two SVI heavy rescue squads.
Smeal 125-foot Aerial Ladder
• Spartan Gladiator Evolution LFD chassis
• Overall height of 11 feet, 9 inches
• Overall length of 46 feet, 7 inches
• Wheelbase 252 inches
• Cummins ISM 500-hp engine
• Allison 4000 EVPR transmission with retarder
• Meritor MFS23 23,000-pound beam front axle
• Meritor RT-58-185 tandem rear axle
• Alcoa aluminum wheels
• Meritor EX225 17-inch front disc brakes
• Five seating positions
• Equipment cabinet on rear wall of cab and footlocker cabinet behind engine tunnel
• EMS compartment over right front wheel accessible from inside or outside of cab
• Weldon multiplex 12-volt electrical system
• Kussmaul 1200 battery conditioner with 20-amp shoreline connector
• Weldon Diamondback 4×6-inch warning lights in lower zones, split vertically blue/red with clear optics and lenses
• Power Arc LED warning lights in upper zones with alley lights in light bar
• Code 3 3992F electronic siren
• Rear-view and right-hand cameras with view on Vista display; automatic rear view when transmission is shifted into reverse and automatic right-hand blind spot view when right turn signal is on
• Hale 8FG 2,250-gpm pump
• All intakes and discharges on right hand pump panel, away from the pump operator
• Stainless steel intake and discharge manifolds and plumbing
• Fire Research INControl TGA400 pressure governor
• Booster reel with 250 feet of 1-inch hose
• Two 1-1/2-inch crosslays with 200 feet of 1-3/4-inch hose
• Pre-connect on front bumper with 200 feet of 2-1/2-inch hose and Akron 2-1/2-inch single shut-off Saberjet nozzle with pistol grip
• Two Akron Apollo monitors on 3-inch risers, one each side of pump house
• 300-gallon UPF Poly water tank and 18-gallon foam cell
• 125-foot, 4-section rear mount aerial with positional waterway, standpipe connection and creeper controls at the tip
• R-O-M roll-up painted compartment doors
• Fire Com intercom with Panther intercom at aerial
• Smart Power 8,000-watt hydraulic generator
• One 10-foot/15-foot combination ladder, one 10-foot folding attic ladder, two 16-foot roof ladders, one 24-foot two-section ladder, one 35-foot two-section ladder
• One 4-foot wood pike pole, three 6-foot wood pike poles, two 8-foot wood pike poles, one 10-foot wood pike pole, one 12-foot wood pike pole, one 14-foot wood pike pole and one 16-foot wood pike pole
• General Dynamics Itronix GD-8000 notebook computer
• Amkus GH2A-MCH power unit with AMK-24 spreader and AMK-21A cutter
Price: $817,000 per unit, including equipment