Letters to the Editor

Issue 7 and Volume 17.

Apparatus Purchasing Primer

Bill Adams’s “Apparatus Purchasing: The Prebid Conference” (March 2012) provides a timely primer for apparatus purchasers.

Caution-this tactic may not work for smaller departments because manufacturers do not have unlimited travel funds.

One lesson I have learned from using prebid conferences (PBCs) for various public safety contracts for 20 years is that whether you use the invitation for bid (IFB) or the request for proposal (RFP) approach, a mandatory PBC is where the rubber meets the road, literally.

How many times have you discovered ill-fitting fire/rescue apparatus that are too wide or long to drive into or out of stations or corner around streets or that have compartments not fully usable because of roll-top door hardware, hinges, and so on. These are costly design mistakes!

Time and again, vendors get surprised when visiting the actual worksite and seeing where their product or service is to be used. Sharp questioning and vendor comments quickly identify problems before the contract starts. A mandatory PBC is a win-win solution for both the department and the vendor.

Donald E. White
Administrative Officer, Alexandria (VA) Volunteer Fire Department

A Word On Two-Stage Pumps

I just wanted to send a note regarding two-stage fire pumps. I am a level 2 New Jersey State certified fire instructor and teach pump operations and standpipe operations for the Bergen County Law and Public Safety Institute.

From my experiences with modern pumpers, the need to operate in the pressure mode has decreased significantly with the advent of smooth bore and low-pressure fog nozzles, increased use of 2½-inch hose, lower friction loss rates in modern fire hose, large-diameter hose (LDH), and better training regarding friction loss, hence lower operating pressures. Modern fire apparatus have much more powerful motors than those in the past.

The Fire Department of New York’s (FDNY) current procedures dictate that engines be set and left in the volume position unless there is a need to overcome head pressure, including when pumping into standpipes.

My department currently has six engines, all with two-stage pumps. The pumps are left in the volume position, and members are instructed to leave them as such except when pumping into one of our many high-rise buildings. For example, we had a fire on the 23rd floor in March, which would add more than 100-pound-per-square-inch (psi) elevation loss to the pump pressure in itself.

If it weren’t for high-rise buildings, we probably would not need to purchase two-stage pumpers.

Steve Kalman
Deputy Chief, Hackensack (NJ) Fire Department

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