Founder, Performance Advantage Company
1. How is the PAC Classroom going?
As you know, we mount all types of equipment. And, we have to come up with bracketry to mount all different types of equipment. Sometimes that’s hard to envision. When you put out a catalog, all it does is show pictures of what products are doing rather than necessarily how they do it. So by having all of our products on display in a way that we can take a camera and show visitors anywhere in the world how the things operate, it seemed to us that it was a great opportunity to take advantage of technology. So, this opportunity to use GoToMeeting to actually bring people into our display is a marvelous tool. We can talk to our dealers in Australia. We talked to some customers in Greece the other day. It doesn’t matter where in the world they are-they could be in the next community. But in any event, we can give them an opportunity to see exactly how our products work right before their faces.
2. Can you tell us about the Scott display in the Greater Lancaster Museum of Fire Fighting?
Scott Aviation was born here in Lancaster, New York. Earl Scott lived here; his family lived here. This whole community knew of Scott and a whole lot of them worked at Scott for years. They had products for aviation as well as products for the fire service. What they learned in high-altitude breathing equipment allowed them to develop the regulators that were used in the Scott [SCBA]. So, it started here. The family is here. It’s a wonderful community display because it brings so many people here who worked at Scott or know of Scott.
3. Why is proper tool mounting so critical for today’s fire apparatus?
We are carrying more and more tools that are susceptible to damage. And, it’s very important that they be mounted in a way that they’re going to be there when you need them. It’s also important that you be able to check your apparatus before you leave the scene of a fire and make sure you have all the tools that you took to the fire. Besides that, more and more equipment is very expensive. So, it’s terribly important that it be mounted carefully and well. It takes a lot of thought, but it’s worthwhile. In many instances, you’re not changing an engine, a pump, wheels, and axles. Those things have been part of fire apparatus for years. But you are changing the way you carry the tools you need at a fire. Look at the hydraulic tools that have come on the scene, or the generators, or all of the different axes and pry bars. They have to be carefully mounted. And, it is critical that you allow the space on a new rig for that equipment, that equipment be mounted properly, and that you get your weight distributions and everything else in balance.
4. What do you think is the biggest mistake fire departments make when mounting tools?
I think the biggest mistake is they don’t take enough time before they come up with a new apparatus specification to determine where they want to mount this equipment. I think an example of doing it well is Ottawa, Canada. They did a marvelous job on their specifications because they took compartment by compartment and decided what they wanted, where they wanted it mounted, and how they wanted it mounted. That might sound like a lot of nonsense, but they wound up with a specification that when you read it or any bidder read it, they knew what was wanted. And when it came time to build that truck, the builder knew exactly what the committee wanted. So, I think the biggest mistake is that they don’t take enough time to really design the truck around the equipment they are going to carry.
5. What keeps you up at night?
Well, sometimes, what we have to do is take advantage of technology. By that, I mean when we first started making brackets, it was very important to recognize that with some of the old brass cast brackets, when you mount them on steel or aluminum, there was an electronic transfer-a galvanic action-that would cause corrosion. And the next thing you knew, you had two parts. So, it was important to take advantage of the technology of modern, high-strength molded products that had no galvanic action. So, you lay awake at night and say, How am I going to do this and make it better? So, getting rid of galvanic action was a most important thing, particularly up here in Buffalo, New York, where we have a lot of snow and a lot of road salt. If you get a little road salt between an old cast bracket and a body, the next thing you know you have a hole. How can we do things better? How can we take advantage of new technology in elastomers? How can we take advantage of new methods of communication? How can we find a better way to train people? Sometimes they keep you up at night. Sometimes, too, it’s bad pastrami!