Apparatus, Chassis Components, Features, Petrillo, Wildland Urban Interface

Apparatus Specs, Automation, Clean Cabs, IRT Technology, Wildland Urban Interface Discussed During First Day at FDSOA Conference in Scottsdale, AZ

By Alan M. Petrillo

Attendees at the Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA) Conference opening day sessions at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort in Scottsdale, AZ,  heard presentations on clean cabs, telematics, emergency warning device automation, electrical system maintenance, developing apparatus specifications, and Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) apparatus, among others.

John Witt, president of Safetek, underscored the high incidence of heart attack, high blood pressure, and cancer that have been attributed to carcinogenic contamination on fire turnout gear and stressed the need for gross decontamination on the scene after a fire event, and the wide development of what he calls “the cleaner cab concept.” He applauded the use of spray-on textured applications inside cabs for ease of decon, vinyl type fabrics for cab seating, vehicle-mounted exhaust protection, and the removal of SCBA to exterior compartments, whether wall mounted or on slide-out and down trays, or roll out tool boards.

Doug Kelley, director of engineering and sales support for KME, expounded on telematics, a method of monitoring a fire asset and using GPS and onboard diagnostics to use the apparatus remotely. Kelley points out that with the right gateway, data can be uploaded from an apparatus to the cloud, and then accessed by a wide number of personnel. He also notes that with the upcoming EPA 2021 emission changes, diesel engines will need to have better monitoring and reporting requirements.

 Jeff Zook of IDEX Fire & Safety notes that the trend in technology has shown a tremendous growth in connected devices. The value of telematics when applied to fire apparatus, he says, include revenue generation, cost reduction, safety enhancement, and time savings. “Emergency vehicle telematics can drive uptime and longevity,” he says, “help isolate vehicle issues more quickly, and reduce the time needed to fix those issues.”

Randy Hoyt, chief electrical engineer for Spartan Motors, and Sam Massa, HiViz LED/Firetech president, did a joint presentation on Electrical System Maintenance, taking the audience through the myriad issues maintenance techs need to consider when dealing with electrical systems. In the second half of the session, Jeff Harper of Power Products, John Doperalski of Harrison HydraGen, and Scott Weishar of Spartan Motors, talked about the positive attributes of idle reduction technology (IRT), including both lithium-ion battery powered units and diesel driven IRTs that can provide scene lighting and cabin climate control instead of running the chassis engine.


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Jim Stopa of Whelen Engineering presented a workshop on emergency warning devices automation, pointing out that automation is already present on fire trucks through the CAN Bus J-1939 sensors that monitor engine use time and temperature, brake position, doors, battery voltage, apparatus speed, seat belts, transmission, GPS and proximity sensors. Other types of fire apparatus automation include intelligent braking, synchronized light flash patterns of on-scene vehicles, traffic signal preemption, and digital cellular motorist alerting. Stopa predicts that it may take some time, but that autonomous vehicles using Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) are on the horizon for fire vehicles.

“Developing Apparatus Specifications” was discussed by Mark Miller, battalion chief of the Warren County (OH) Fire Department, focusing on specs that demonstrate usability, serviceability, and fiscal responsibility. Miller notes that apparatus specs should detail a community’s specific needs, take into account its regional geography and demographics, its staffing, station distribution, the availability of mutual aid, fire department services, and population density.

Jason Darley, W. S. Darley & Co. North American sales manager for the pump division, Brett Cerini, wildland product manager for KME, and Chad Moffat, president of Boise Mobile Equipment, presented a workshop on wildland firefighting apparatus, covering the specs of Type 1 through Type 7 engines, Type 1 and 2 tactical water tenders, Type 1, 2 and 3 support water tenders, and Type 1, 2 and 3 crew carriers. The trio also covered an array of design considerations, noting that departments should design and build a wildland fire vehicle for severe service, and consider the rig’s center of gravity, angle of approach, angle of departure, and whether four wheel drive is needed.

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Ariz.-based journalist, the author of three novels and five non-fiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including the position of chief.