Equipment, Features, Fire Apparatus

Cantankerous Wisdom: Mix ’n Match, Macks, and Harvey’s Retiring!

By Bill Adams

Raisin Squad members are usually tolerant and sometimes respectfully appreciative of the new breed—you know, the people who put air packs on, go inside, and put fires out. They’ll never experience the feeling raisins got when they had to stick their noses next to a nozzle to hopefully get some fresh air. They’ll never try lighting up an unfiltered cigarette during overhaul while avoiding a long soot infected piece of snot hanging from their nose. And, thank the good Lord they don’t have to hack up some purplish green and black colored chunk of phlegm that was attached to their lungs. Those days are over and should be forever.

Squad members are relinquished to lightheartedly teasing those young guys who’ll let us get away with it and to bust other Raisins’ private body parts. A choice target for my harassment is Harvey Eckart, a die-hard Mack aficionado and an 87-year-old Pennsylvanian, a “mutual aid” Raisin. If the name sounds familiar, he’s written the Apparatus Ramblings column for the Pennsylvania Fireman for 29 years. He also wrote, or contributed to, six books on fire trucks (mostly Macks); one on buses; and he writes all the time for various fire buff organizations including the Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Motor Fire Apparatus in America (SPAAMFAA) and the Pennsylvania Pump Primers. He’s an easy target.

He continues to be my “go-to” source for photos of Mack fire apparatus—one of my favorite manufacturers. “Hey Harvey—you know where I can get a picture of a B-Model semi-cab with a Maxim aerial? Oh, and it needs to show a 50-foot truss style aluminum bangor ladder.” The old geezer must be slowing down because I asked him for it at 1315 hours on the 11th and it took him until 1322 hours on the 12th to find and send the accompanying photo.

Harvey can take some teasing but said I pushed him to his limit when I said his old fire company only bought open cab Macks so the fleas on the Mack hood ornament would fly off and not get trapped inside the cab. And, he really didn’t like it when I asked him if he ever drove a fire truck where he wasn’t staring at or sniffing a bulldog’s butt. He’s a double clutcher.

He doesn’t live in the past either. Before the mandatory face-diaper wearing pandemic, we’d meet at the annual Harrisburg Fire Expo for lunch and to enjoy a couple adult beverages and comment on the rigs being displayed. Harvey isn’t afraid to ask the manufacturers some very direct and pointed questions, sometimes starting off with, “What were you thinking when you….” And, he’s given me a shot or two when disagreeing with my written babblings. The kicker is Harvey said he’s “retiring” from writing his “Apparatus Ramblings” column. He didn’t ask me. Harvey: “I will still pursue some writings, but it will simply not be in the long-time column format tradition. My ‘check engine’ light is coming on more frequently now, but I am not yet being towed to the salvage yard.” I’m sure you’ll still find him at antique fire truck musters probably sniffing the exhaust fumes from a red hot 6-cylinder Mack thermodyne engine – running lean of course.

Mix ‘n Match
For reasons unknown to me, there appears to be a tendency for departments to use low pump discharge (DP) pressures and low-pressure nozzles for their attack lines. Concurrently, it seems some SOPs call for pump operators to hit the preset button on their pump pressure governors for a given DP and let the pump run while they’re off doing other stuff. I’m not disputing, disparaging, or passing judgement on that procedure. Do what’s best for your department.

I query whether the “desired flows” will be achieved when pumping a single DP into what could be different sizes (diameter) and lengths of preconnects. An example could be a pumper having both 150-foot-long and 250-foot-long 1¾-inch and 2½-inch preconnects.

I’m not advocating any particular size, length, or flow from a preconnect. There is a suggestion that the first length (or two) of hose CLOSEST to the rig could be oversized. The supposition is that length or lengths of hose will not be moved after being stretched and charged. An example for a 150-foot preconnect would be the length closest to the rig isn’t moved while the first two off the rig should be maneuverable for an interior attack. On a longer preconnect for a rear door entry or for a building set a ways off the road, the two closest to the rig might not be moved after charging.

From an online flow chart: Friction loss in 50 feet of 1¾-inch flowing 180 gpm is 25 psi. It is 3.24 psi in 2½-inch and 1 psi in 3-inch. Friction loss in 50 feey of 2½-inch flowing 250 gpm is 6.25 psi and 2.5 psi in 3-inch. Granted, there are differences between hose manufacturers and the age and deterioration in inner linings however, the ratios would be similar. It might be worth investigating.

BILL ADAMS is a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Editorial Advisory Board, a former fire apparatus salesman, and a past chief of the East Rochester (NY) Fire Department. He has 50 years of experience in the volunteer fire service.