Letters to the Editor


“Auxiliary Power Units Making Inroads on Fire Apparatus” by Alan M. Petrillo (June 2014) was a very nice article, and these units can certainly be a wonderful addition to a piece of equipment. I have a couple of points of clarification on the topic.

First, main engine idling, which would generate added wear and tear, would actually result in the need to service or rebuild the engine more frequently-not just a need for more frequent maintenance. Taking those big engines apart costs a lot of money.

Second, the actual diesel fuel usage for an 8-kW genset is actually one quart when idling, two quarts at half load, and four quarts at full load. So, there is not a full gallon savings per hour over the main engine-which would need around 1¼ gallons idling-unless one would be just idling the little engine as well, which of course does not make any sense. There would be no need to operate it at all.

John Fischer
Engine Consultant
Palatine, Illinois


One of the best things about being an engineer is that you can sit and dream for days and honestly say you were working. Engineers do love to solve problems, and a lot of that involves sitting and dreaming of solutions. But, the best solutions always come from engineers who thoroughly understand the problem. That is where the fire service needs to engage manufacturers more aggressively. We need to reach out to the radio guys and show them just how hard it is to operate a portable with gloves and an SCBA. But, we also need to be wary of over-engineered solutions that don’t address the root cause of a problem. A wireless GPS accountability turnout coat that simultaneously monitors firefighters vital signs is of no use to an overweight crew who doesn’t know what a left hand search pattern is. Likewise, an apparatus covered with chevrons and flashing lights is of no use when a motorist is looking at his smartphone instead of the road. Perhaps some of the problems we need to solve have roots that lie far below the fire service. In any case, I will continue sitting and dreaming and enjoying your editorials.

Christopher Bors
McKinley Fire Company, Elkins Park, Pennsylvnia

Letters to the Editor

Reconsider Your Photos

I have a comment regarding the photo by Michael J. Coppola that appears on the cover of the January 2014 issue of Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment. I would ask that you and your staff pay closer attention to detail before using a picture like this as a moniker for some apparatus manufacturer. I have always found many of the articles in your publication both educational and useful. I am using this photo as a training session at our department on what not to do at a structure fire!

Both Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and, I am sure, state or department rules are violated over, and over, and over. The photo depicts active fire in the center of the picture. There is one firefighter shown on the second-story roof to the left without helmet or gloves on. Really? He appears to be yelling some type of communication to the guy on the ladder. What, they have never heard of radios? The next firefighter is seen on the ground ladder without a helmet, gloves, or structure coat. He must be the hero firefighter since he doesn’t believe he has to wear his mandatory OSHA-required gear on the fireground. So when he falls off the ladder or it slides out from underneath him, what do you tell the widow when he dies? And finally, the superhero on the aerial with his designer shades and his bottle of water looks like a nice pose for some friend-no gear whatsoever! They call this professional firefighting? These actions are why every single month the fire service is burying firefighters or reporting another “close call.”

I understand this fireground scene had absolutely nothing to do with your magazine or your staff. But please, show some professional responsibility and do not publish photos that are so completely offensive to the men and women of the fire service who do it right every day. This truly is an insult. If you do not have a professional staff level fire officer to review photos such as this prior to publication, I would gladly submit my name.

Dennis D. Fouchia
Lenox Township (MI) Fire Department

Associate Editor Chris Mc Loone responds: Whenever a nonstaged photo is considered for a cover, there is a possibility that those in the image could be captured in a less than flattering light. With that in mind, the photos we choose focus on the apparatus operating at the scene of a fire. However, the advantage of using such images means that personnel are depicted in real-world environments. We encourage all readers to take cover photos and use them for teaching purposes.