FDIC International 2016: The Total Package

As we prepared for FDIC International 2016, the usual product releases started to come in with greater frequency as the show got closer and closer until we reached the weekend before.

Some companies teased through ads that they’d be using the conference and exhibition to introduce something new, and others told us specifically what they were going to bring to market but politely asked us to wait until the show for the reveals. I spend a lot of time traversing the show floor, both in the Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Convention Center. I put a lot of miles on my shoes while out in Indy, but this year those miles were a little slower.

I speak with many vendors-as many as I can-and usually the conversation comes around to me asking, “How has the show been?” FDIC International always draws a crowd. There isn’t a conference and exhibition in North America bigger than this event. But, still, exhibitors were ecstatic about the traffic this year. My travel across the show floor was a bit slower this year as I worked through the crowds.

Leading up to FDIC International 2016, one of the press releases that rolled in was the announcement that REV Group acquired KME. There was understandable buzz around the floor about this. The news was so new, it really wasn’t feasible that anyone would know if the acquisition would change a lot for KME folks. This wasn’t the only recent merger/acquisition. Weeks before the show, Task Force Tips announced that it acquired AMKUS Rescue Systems, and Firequip had recently announced that it acquired All-American Hose.

This year, 20 scholarship award winners attended the show. Honeywell and DuPont awarded the scholarships to 20 attendees, who were nominated by their peers-an excellent example of how there is no dividing line between the exhibit and education components of the show. Fire industry suppliers are very active on the education side of FDIC International.

One example is Scott Safety. This company provides hundreds of SCBA yearly for use at hands-on training (HOT) evolutions. HOT sites are also where Scott Safety and other companies introduce concepts and new products for real-time feedback from end users. It was at one HOT site that I had a chance to demo the new Scott Sight SCBA face piece with integrated in-mask thermal imaging capabilities. Scott Safety representatives were traveling the HOT sites with the face piece to get firefighter impressions of the new product. Not meant to replace a handheld thermal imaging camera (TIC), the face piece has a TIC on the exterior with an in-mask screen.

Scott wasn’t the only SCBA company to bring thermal imaging associated with SCBA to market. MSA introduced its G1 SCBA with integrated TIC at the show. MSA introduced the concept at FDIC International 2015, and a year later, the units are available for preorder.

Thermal imaging innovations weren’t only found on SCBA. FLIR introduced two new handheld TICs, a TIC that is mountable to aerial devices (one was mounted on a KME rear-mount platform), and new thermal imaging drone packages. W.S. Darley & Company introduced the InstantEye UAV, the only all-weather UAV on the market, and it also provides thermal imaging capabilities.

Ladder trucks had a lot going on this year. E-ONE introduced the addition of a rear-mount platform to its steel aerial line as well as new ladder controls; Smeal introduced newly upgraded Snorkel and Squrt products; Rosenbauer showed its new midmount 75-foot aerial on a single axle and a new articulated platform; Sutphen unveiled its first ever rear-mount aerial; and Pierce announced three new configurations for its Ascendant 107-foot aerial, originally introduced as a quint apparatus at FDIC International 2015. Ferrara’s SKYFLOW™ is a midmount aerial that required a new structure for the four-section ladder to flow greater than 5,000 gallons per minute (gpm) through the aerial’s waterway.

What follows here are reports from the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment team members regarding their impressions of this year’s event. Also be sure to turn to our New Products section this month for a round-up of products introduced at the show.

For complete coverage, go to www.fireapparatus.com/fdic.

Water Delivery Equipment

It never fails. When I walk into the exhibit halls of FDIC International every year looking at what is new with water delivery equipment, I am always impressed. From new and improved hose to nozzles doing things never thought possible before, the water delivery industry is always striving to make water delivery more efficient on the fireground. It was good to see that, in general, manufacturers are starting to realize the effects of large flow with implementation into their products.

This year, there seemed to be more of a presence of industrial equipment, with engine and truck companies having the capability to exceed 5,000 gpm. That’s moving water. Believe it or not, I saw a new and improved 1½-inch hose-yes, you heard it right-capable of flows up to 170 gpm at a very efficient pump discharge pressure. Two-inch hose with 2½-inch couplings is becoming very popular for high-rise operations as well as blitz lines. The Vindicator Blitz Attack nozzle produces a 300-gpm flow with 200 feet of this two-inch hose with the pumper idling, producing 100-foot streams.

Photo by Tim Olk
Photo by Tim Olk.

Task Force Tips always comes out with new products that it unveils at FDIC International. This year, it was a smooth bore tip that can produce a fog pattern by simply turning a ring. U.S. Fire Pumps and Ferrara Fire Apparatus showed off a new two-piece water delivery system with a portable pump capable of bringing static water up to 5,000 gpm and delivering it through a hose and manifold system deployed by a hose tender. Hose sizes consisted of a maximum of 12-inch, and the tender has a hose retrieval system that lets the machine do all the work.

Companies such as Turbo Draft, Kochek, and others are very knowledgeable in the rural water delivery arena and are always making adjustments to new equipment to increase the efficiency of an already difficult water delivery process.

As you can see, the fire service has come a long way from using buckets for water delivery to where we are now, and I’m sure we are going to continue to see more throughout the years to make water delivery an even easier and more efficient operation.

Magnetic Mic for Safer Driving

When I walked passed the Magnetic Mic booth, the vendor was waving his hand around like he was doing a magic trick. Then you would hear this “snap” against the metal podium. He asked me if I’ve ever had a problem putting a handheld mic back in the receiver bracket without some deliberate effort. I had to laugh because the irritating answer was, “Yes!”

Many modern fire apparatus are equipped with headsets for the entire crew, and keying the mic to transmit a radio message is done by simply pressing a button on the headset. But, there are many times we use the radio without the headset. For example, when using the PA system or going back to the rig to transmit a message from the more powerful mobile unit, more than likely you’re going to reach for the handheld mic.

Not all fire department vehicles are fire apparatus. SUV command vehicles, staff cars, fire prevention cars, training vans, support vehicles, and the shop mechanic’s vehicle are usually operated by a single occupant who probably doesn’t wear a headset when actually driving. Fireboat pilots usually use a hand-mic in the wheelhouse.

Today, the housing cover over the engine tunnel is getting wider and taller, and there is so much equipment that needs to go inside the cab that mounting surfaces that do not block the view of the driver and the officer are at a premium. In an effort to keep the radio within reach of the driver and the officer, it’s often mounted on the center of the engine housing or suspended from above by a bracket on the headliner.

Photo by Mike Tinter
Photo by Mike Tinter.

Bryan Schreiber and Michael Tinter, of Innovative Products Inc., Knoxville, Tennessee, thought it was a good idea to put a magnet on the dash and on the back of the mic to eliminate this problem. A fire officer or a driver can simply get the handheld mic close to the Magnetic Mic base and let it go. The magnet will snap it back into place.

Magnetic Mic is a simple magnetic holder that replaces the metal hanging clip. It consists of a magnetic base, mounting hardware, and a microphone adaptor held in place with a set screw. It works on every microphone handheld palm unit on the market today and installs in minutes. All you need is a #2 Phillips screwdriver. The magnetic base doesn’t have to go on the radio. You can install it anywhere in the cab you deem most convenient and easy to reach. You’re only limited by the length of the radio cord.

Whether your radio system functions with an on-hook/off-hook setting, switches to a private line, or scans when hung up, Magnetic Mic will work with your radio system.

I liked the Magnetic Mic because it was a simple solution to a familiar problem we just learned to tolerate and live with through the years. Best of all, it won’t impact maintenance budgets or require the city council to pass a levy to retrofit your fleet. No more dropped or buried mics. And, you can stay focused on your driving because you won’t need to take your eyes off the road. That is safer for everyone riding the rig.

FDIC 2016: What’s New?

One thing is known for sure: FDIC International does not disappoint. From the riveting general sessions, to the hands-on training, to the classroom presentations, the speakers and instructors are “top-shelf.” This year’s FDIC International probably had as many new product introductions or product improvements than any of the previous 30 FDICs I’ve attended. Things I thought I’d never see: E-ONE with steel ladders; Sutphen with a rear-mount aerial; and Circul-Air at an exhibition-with an expanded product line!

Firefighter Cancer

Firefighter cancer awareness and prevention is the hottest topic in today’s fire service. Products related to cancer were prominent. Using the sound logic that it is always better to leave contaminants (carcinogens) at the scene, Shield Solutions displayed a decontaminating rinse that can be used with a garden hose attachment or placed in a pump sprayer. Simply spray on and rinse. Millennium Enterprises introduced its First Wash shower head that can be standalone or attached to the apparatus. It also displayed bags for collecting dirty gear on the scene.

Cleaning and decontamination are core to cancer prevention. Hose washing machines, common in Europe for decades, were on display at Circul-Air and Groves Ready-Rack. More than a dozen exhibitors showed washer-extractors and gear drying equipment. Twenty years ago, there were none. Xeros introduced bead technology as a means of extractor cleaning. Absorbent polymer beads replace the bulk of water required to clean gear. The new process is now under field evaluation and, if the results are good, the product should be ready for market in about a year. A special extractor is required to use this technology. Another new product, by FIREWIPES, is an eight- by 12-inch textured industrial strength disposable skin wipe with a unique cleansing formula to minimize carcinogens.

PPE

Many improvements in personal protective equipment (PPE) were announced. Two products frequently discussed were barrier hoods using Dupont’s new Nomex® Nano-Flex technology and a new “triple-trim” Scotchlite from 3M.

DuPont introduced a particulate barrier for hoods displayed by Fire-Dex and PGI. The particulate barrier hood is designed to keep fire products from penetrating the hood and attaching to the vulnerable dermal areas of the face and neck. Fire-Dex and PGI displayed the new hood. Other hoods on display included moisture barriers. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) technical committee responsible for NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, is currently addressing design and testing requirements for the new barrier hoods.

3M’s Scotchlite’s new “Series 5600 Fire Coat Comfort Trim” was on display. Rather than a solid strip of trim, the new trim is a series of angled strips about 3⁄16 inch wide with a space of about 1⁄16 inch between each strip. The material is glued to the fabric rather than sewn. The spacing and lack of stitching makes the reflective trim very flexible. The new trim was on full display on Globe Manufacturing’s new Athletix turnout gear introduction, which was also a big hit.

W.L. Gore announced that its new barrier system has been tested by North Carolina State University to be the most heat-stress-free barrier when using the Ret (evaporative resistance) test. This test is being considered for inclusion in the next revision of NFPA 1971.

Scott Safety introduced its new thermal imager that is integrated into the SCBA face piece. It was very well received with a good value price; it gives the firefighter a great tool for situational awareness. Scott Safety is quick to say it is not a replacement for a regular thermal imager.

Other observations

Hansen International showed grab handles and roll-up door handles that incorporated lighting into the handles. These increase visibility, and the wireless design of the lighted door handles provides additional ground lighting when closed and compartment lighting when open.

Unifire, known for its blowers and saws, has entered the base-layer garment industry. It also introduced blankets, sheets, towels, etc. for the fire station. All the base layer products and the station items are antimicrobial, antifungal, thermoregulating, antiodor, antistatic, and flame-resistant.

Of Concern

The popularity of black retroreflective striping on fire apparatus is mind boggling. Striping is required for conspicuity. And, conspicuity is a factor 24 hours per day: night, dawn, dusk, and daylight. Black doesn’t work except in one of those four ambient light situations. It’s time for the NFPA Apparatus Technical Committee to tighten the requirements. Finally, buyer beware, one equipment manufacturer had literature stating that its product is designed to meet NFPA requirements for the equipment. That does not mean it meets the requirement or that it is compliant with the standard.

Excitement for Everyone

It doesn’t matter if you are attending FDIC International for the first time or the 30th time-there is always an air of anticipation and excitement for everyone. Manufacturers and vendors are ready to show the latest in product innovation while end users are always looking for just the right new product to bring to the fire and rescue job.

Each year as FDIC International nears, it seems that one or more of the major fire apparatus manufacturers will have a significant news release. 2016 was no exception as REV Group Inc., headed by Tim Sullivan, announced the purchase of KME. The Florida-based group owns several fire, ambulance, recreation, mobility, sweepers, and terminal trucks manufacturing companies. Looking at the large number of ambulance operations owned by REV Group, it appears that KME will continue to be a main supplier of apparatus to the fire and rescue service.

A stop at the Pierce Manufacturing display in the Lucas Oil Stadium found its star of the 2015 FDIC show, the Ascendant 107, has proven to be a very successful new model in the Pierce lineup. Michael Moore, Pierce chief operating officer, shared that there are more than 60 Ascendants on order. The first six models have recently been delivered. The single-axle Ascendant 107 now comes in four variations: a quint with a midship pump; a Texas chute out/side stack hosebed; a quint or Texas chute out with a PUC pump; and a no pump/no tank model. Lead time on new Ascendant 107 orders is 10 to 11 months. Pierce also displayed several apparatus models on the floor of the convention center this year.

Sutphen Corporation featured a “first” for the manufacturer known for its midmount aerial rigs. It introduced the SLR 75, a rear-mount 75-foot aerial ladder quint. With a travel height of 11 feet 9 inches and length of 38 feet 3 inches, the truck, with a 1,500-gpm pump and a 300-gallon tank, is powered by a Cummins ISL9 400-hp engine.

A stop at the Spartan ER booth found Norm Johnson of EMC Fire displaying a 1,500-gpm pumper for Urbana, Illinois. The “Urbana Red” paint scheme has always been very distinctive.

Photo by Tim Olk
Photo by Tim Olk.

Fort Garry Fire Trucks out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, displayed the only piece of track-equipped compressed-air foam system (CAFS) firefighting apparatus. Steve Suche, government and export sales at Fort Garry, told me that the “Wildland Dominator” was a project 10 years in the making. The unit on display is one of three units being built for Canada’s Department of National Defense, and the unit at the show will be delivered to Petawawa in northeastern Ontario. The UTV Achiever chassis is powered by a Fiat engine. A Waterous ONE STEP™ 250-gpm/80-cfm CAFS is powered by a Deutz diesel engine. The tracked driver system allows for a five-psi ground pressure fully loaded.

Chris Fitzgerald, from Neoteric Hovercraft Inc., was displaying at FDIC International for the first time. The Terre Haute, Indiana, manufacturer produces a hovercraft product that is used in recreational and rescue service applications. Hovercraft units have been used in rescue units for more than 40 years, providing a unique and safe way to save lives. Water and ice conditions are main areas of use; however, rough terrain, mud, and wetlands are additional areas where a hovercraft can be efficiently used. The purchase price of this life-saving piece of equipment is surprisingly inexpensive.

A stop at the Smeal display was a déjà vu all over again experience. With the acquisition of LTI, Smeal now offers, through Ladder Tower Company, the Squrt™ and the Snorkel™ product lines. A 54-foot Squrt™ articulating water tower for Prospect Heights, New Jersey, and a 55-foot Snorkel articulating boom for Frankfort, Illinois, were attracting a good amount of interest.

Ferrara included a powerful industrial aerial apparatus, the SKYFLOW four-section midmount aerial, that can flow more than 5,000 gallons of water at 100 feet through an aerial waterway. This unit is built on an Inferno cab and chassis and is powered by a Cummins ISX15 600-hp engine. The petrochemical industry has some very specialized equipment needs. The SKYFLOW is one of the most powerful units to meet those needs.

I do have one regret: I did not take the time to get in a long line to ride up on an aerial ladder elevator-type apparatus displayed by Rosenbauer. The Rosenbauer/Man 210-foot aerial truck was the most popular ride on the midway. The European-style aerial does not meet NFPA requirements, so don’t look for one of these ladders in your local fire station. I can only imagine what the Indianapolis skyline looks like from 210 feet up. Rosenbauer had an impressive lineup of apparatus on the show floor and several rigs working outside between the exhibit hall and Lucas Oil Stadium. The view from a Lubbock, Texas, Rosenbauer Commander 101-foot Cobra platform operating outside would have been good as well.

These are just a few observations from stopping at various exhibits in the convention center and at Lucas Oil Stadium. For so many attendees and myself, the experience of seeing all the latest fire apparatus is like being a kid in the candy store. What else can I say? The good thing about that is you never grow old!

The Truck, the Whole Truck

If you like fire apparatus, then going to FDIC International is an absolute must. This display features all the top-of-the-line rigs as well as new innovations that should not be missed. As with most firefighters, I have my favorite maker of fire apparatus and enjoy seeing its rigs on display. But, I also go to all the booths and see all the trucks as well as the whole truck.

By taking time to look at the various rigs, you can see the options that were selected as well as all the innovative ideas each manufacturer has incorporated. Plus, this is a great opportunity to get ideas, such as different ways to mount equipment. You might be pleasantly surprised at how their ideas might find themselves onto your next purchase. It’s a buyer’s cornucopia of neat stuff on apparatus as most builders bring the rigs they know will catch a prospective buyer’s eye or a rig so unique it will make you have to stop in their booth.

Look the rigs over, open the compartments, get inside the cab, look underneath, and ask a lot of questions. Even ask the salesperson the obvious and not-so-obvious questions-you may be surprised at the answers. You may never see that salesperson again, and even if you do, you come away smarter.

I also try to take as many pictures of unique options as possible to keep in my cache of ideas for that next apparatus purchase or as a suggestion for a neighboring department. With some of the more unique options, I’ll try to find out what the customer’s rationale or thinking was for the design decision so I have that background information for future reference.

So, schedule a visit to FDIC International and make the time to walk around and not be in a rush. Take pictures, ask questions, and enjoy your time at the “Greatest Show on Earth.” It will be worth your time if you are really into fire apparatus and even for the casual observer. Make sure to take time to look at the truck, the whole truck. The opportunity to see something new is practically unlimited.

FDIC International 2016 Synopsis

As usual, FDIC International fire apparatus displays featured many unique and unusual innovations. Some were subtle yet eye-catching. Last year’s apparatus continued the shortening or even elimination of the rear steps (work platforms) and the nonuse of even small rub rails at the rear. This year, it appears actual usable rear steps are returning. Folding access steps are losing favor to collapsible ladders for hosebed access. Both trends will improve firefighter safety.

Roll-up shutter-style hosebed covers and lift-up treadplate covers are making inroads on fabric bed covers. Several manufacturers displayed pump panel mounted cameras enabling the pump operator to observe all sides of the apparatus. The pumper-rescue style body configurations are the industry standard. Only a few traditional pumper style bodies were shown, although most featured full-height compartments with shallower upper sections. Pumper-rescue configurations, especially with other than normal fire pump locations, didn’t feature rear steamer or low mounted discharge connections-a questionable trade-off for the increased storage space.

Summit displayed a rig featuring a midship-mounted pump with unique pump panels. In addition to featuring a panel-mounted camera, the upper half of the driver’s side traditional stainless or vinyl pump panel was eliminated. It had six easily accessible discharge valves with swing-up/down lever controls with the pressure gauge located in front of each. Two-thirds of the upper curb side pump panel was open, giving access to the valves there for service. Unusual looking to say the least, its functionality will be appreciated by the department’s mechanics when servicing or repairing the myriad connections located behind fully enclosed pump house panels.

Pierce’s Ascendant single-rear-axle 107-foot rear-mount aerial in several configurations garnered quite a bit of interest. Like most innovations, if proven successful, it’ll have a 12- to 18-month run before it has competition.

Sutphen tackled the 75-foot rear-mount aerial ladder market head-on with the introduction of a new single-rear-axle SLR 75 aluminum aerial. Several of its representatives at the unveiling gave insight into why a builder of midship aerial devices only would build a rear-mount. In comparing it to other manufacturers’ standard models, Sutphen says the SLR 75 has a shorter wheelbase; 220 cubic feet of stainless steel compartmentation; a lower center of gravity; minimum 18½-inch aerial handrail height; and a minimum aerial handrail width of 26 inches to accommodate a stokes basket. It claims its 3:1 aerial structural safety factor throughout its entire operating envelope exceeds published 2.25:1 and 2.50:1 safety factors.

Rosenbauer introduced a single-rear-axle 75-foot midmount platform with a Boston-style basket appealing to the Aerialscope market. E-ONE added a steel rear-mount platform to its steel aerial lineup. Both Ferrara and Sutphen addressed the industrial market. Ferrara introduced an aerial ladder capable of flowing more than 5,000 gpm when fully extended. Sutphen showed a 4,000-gpm top-mount industrial foam pumper. Next year, we may see fire suppression rigs designed for the military-in both olive drab and red and white.

The Importance of Onboard Cameras

I just returned from this year’s FDIC International and would like to say how pleased I was with the attendance at my “Drive to Survive: The Art of Driving the Rig” seminar. Nearly 100 students were in attendance, and a quick poll before the class revealed that the experience level for driving apparatus ranged from “just started” to more than 43 years. All of the students showed their dedication to and interest in safe apparatus operations.

One of the biggest discussion points during the class was the use of onboard recording cameras, such as those used in police cars. I was asked how I feel about these devices, and the question inspired me to walk the show floor after the class and see what type of technology is out there. It wasn’t long before I found a booth that was showing off mobile video recorders (MVRs).

I’ve discussed MVRs in previous articles. However, I would like to reinforce how much I believe in this technology. Mobile video recorders are excellent tools for training, crash investigation, and upholding professional standards. Having the ability to go back and “watch the tape” allows fire departments to improve the safety and accountability of their vehicle operations programs. While many firefighters believe these systems are just another example of “big brother watching,” I can’t disagree more. As I have always said, if you are operating your vehicle in a safe and responsible manner, there is nothing to hide.

Throughout my fire service career, I have been involved in several unsafe driving investigations, all of which came down to a “he said, she said” investigation. MVRs allow fire departments to go back and review objective evidence to support or refute these types of accusations. In a case where the accusation is supported, the video will provide valuable training material to help remediate an unsafe driver.

These tools should not be used only for investigative purposes. Departments should conduct a routine review of these videos with each driver so they can see first-hand how they handle a vehicle. Many drivers may get caught up in the moment and do not realize their weakness in vehicle operations. Video review will also provide good drivers with the opportunity to see what they are doing right, reinforcing the safe operation of the vehicle.

The technology that I witnessed on the FDIC show floor has come leaps and bounds since I began using MVRs in a police car nearly 20 years ago. Today’s systems record in high definition, provide up to eight camera points on the vehicle, and download wirelessly to cloud-based systems that are kept at headquarters. The days of changing VHS video tapes or poor picture quality are long gone. Storage and review of vehicle operation video are now as easy as a mouse click.

The value of onboard video recording systems cannot be underestimated. These systems will protect the integrity of a vehicle operations program, providing objective evidence to support or refute claims of unsafe driving. The system acts as an independent witness in situations when no witnesses are available and may provide much needed evidence to exonerate a driver, saving a fire department hundreds of thousands of dollars in the event of a frivolous lawsuit.

Apparatus and Equipment Highlights

A huge array of fire apparatus, fire and rescue boats, PPE, pumps, nozzles, hose, and mountains of other firefighting equipment occupied the Indiana Convention Center and the Lucas Oil Stadium at FDIC International 2016.

E-ONE introduced an HPS 100 steel aerial platform that product manager Joe Hedges says has a 2.5:1 structural safety factor, integral torque box chassis, and crisscross under-slung outriggers that can deploy to a 15-foot six-inch spread in less than 45 seconds. The vehicle was built for Ocala (FL) Fire-Rescue. E-ONE also featured a 4×4 eMAX Cyclone II custom pumper built for the Red, White and Blue (CO) Fire Protection District powered by a 550-horsepower (hp) Cummins ISX 15 diesel engine and an Allison EVS 4000 transmission with a 1,500-gpm split shaft midship pump and a 780-gallon water tank.

Pierce Manufacturing Inc. featured three new configurations of the Ascendant 107-foot heavy-duty aerial ladder built on a single-rear-axle chassis: one with a PUC pump, one with a Texas Chute Out body (side stack hosebed), and one other in a no pump/no tank body configuration. Chad Trinkner, Pierce’s senior director of business development, says Pierce displayed 18 fire and emergency apparatus at FDIC International 2016 and also demonstrated its new “Build My Pierce” system where customers can choose from approximately 140,000 elements to electronically draw up a truck’s specifications on the spot.

Spartan Emergency Response displayed seven complete apparatus and two cab-and-chassis models, including a 100-foot tractor-drawn aerial (TDA), custom side- and top-mount pumpers, a 28-foot Boomer, and a multifunctional Intelligent Pump Solution pumper.

Photo courtesy of Pierce
Photo courtesy of Pierce.

Smeal Fire Apparatus took two older concepts and made them new again with the reintroduction of all-new Snorkel and Squrt models. Dave Rider, director of global product management, says the 55-foot Snorkel articulating boom platform was built for the Frankford (IL) Fire Protection District with a Waterous 1,500-gpm pump and 500-gallon water tank and is fitted with A-style stabilizers with 11-foot nine-inch spreads. The 54-foot Squrt on display carries a 1,000-gpm monitor and is fully articulating, he adds.

Sutphen Corp. introduced the company’s first rear-mount aerial, the SLR 75 aerial ladder powered by a 400-hp Cummins ISL 9 diesel engine and an Allison Gen 5 EVS 3000 automatic transmission with a Hale QMax 1,500-gpm pump and a 300-gallon water tank.

Rosenbauer featured a Cobra 75-foot aerial platform on a Commander chassis that has hot-dip galvanized frame rails, aerial, and outriggers, along with a 2,000-gpm Rosenbauer pump, according to Dave Reichman, national sales manager. Rosenbauer also introduced its RXT series of pumpers designed with preengineered options. The model displayed was a commercial top-mount pumper with a 1,250-gpm pump, 1,000-gallon water tank, and all stainless steel plumbing.

KME displayed a walk-around rescue built for the Anderson Township-Yankeetown (IN) Fire Department on a Severe Service LFD chassis with 16-inch raised roof, seating for six firefighters, a 21-foot five-inch aluminum body with roof compartments, ladder storage below the roof walkway, and a six-bottle cascade system with fill station. KME also showed a Flex pumper built for the Clayton (MO) Fire Department on a Predator XLFD chassis and cab with a 22-inch raised roof, carrying a Hale QMax-XS 1,500-gpm pump, a 750-gallon polypropylene water tank, and a Will-Burt vertical light mast. Other vehicles KME displayed included a 102-foot rear-mount AerialCat platform, a 79-foot rear-mount AerialCat ladder, and a mini pumper built for the Fenton (MI) Fire Department.

A Chief’s Perspective

I am not sure how many FDICs I have attended. I do know that my first was in 1979, and I have not attended every year like some of my colleagues have. Regardless, I continue to be impressed by the magnitude of the show and the incredible learning opportunities that exist. Anyone serious about this business must make the “pilgrimage” at least once in his or her career. Of course, once they have been there, they may find themselves returning many times.

From a fire chief’s perspective, I look at the training and education available. This is not just restricted to the excellent HOT classes, preconference workshops, general sessions, and classes. First, virtually every topic is covered in some manner; anyone who can’t find a learning opportunity just doesn’t want to find one. There is the chance to hear from industry icons like Alan Brunacini, Dave Dodson, Gordon Graham, and Billy Goldfeder, among others. Yet, there are so many other “hidden gems” that are truly outstanding, provided by people who know their industry and are passionate about it. They may not have the notoriety of some, but they clearly are stars. You wish you could stop in all of the classes but, like everything else going on at FDIC International, there is too much to do and see that you don’t get to do everything.

Besides the courses, there is a great opportunity to network with so many people that you are literally learning during all of your waking hours. The hallways, mealtimes, and even walking down the street are chances to learn and explore. Your senses are on overload, so you are always taking in something of value. I often don’t process or realize what I have experienced until I return home. I sort out my notes, business cards, and various bits of information that all get evaluated and considered regarding the goal of life-long learning.

Of course, the vendor displays and product introductions are second to none. After you get over the overwhelming feeling that there is no way to take it all in, you focus on what you are interested in. It can be upcoming budget considerations or the need to explore the latest innovations and technology. It may even be a little of both. I always seem to be drawn to the newest “gadgets” and developments. There are some that catch me right away and almost sell themselves. There are others that intrigue me and entice me to do a little more research. The exhibit floor is more than just a shopping excursion-it is a great learning opportunity. The vendors, companies, and salespeople all have a wealth of knowledge and are more than willing to share. They also work very hard to build relationships. These are very important after the show. As I said before, I am often on overload while at the show and will definitely need to follow up on the items and products that most interested me.

I cannot totally explain the phenomena of FDIC International. It has never become one of those “been there, done that” events. Each year is a new experience mixed in with the chance to renew old friendships. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of such a great show.

What I Learned at FDIC International

Once again, FDIC International 2016 did not disappoint. More than 30,000 firefighters assembled in close proximity. In the world we live in today, having that many type A personalities in one place at one time without significant impact on life as we know it is nothing short of pure brotherhood and sisterhood!

Back to the business at hand: Traveling the countless aisles of vendors on the floors of FDIC International exhibit halls in search of what is new, exciting, and state of the art in the world of vehicle rescue and technical rescue revealed some interesting things.

In my travels, the single piece of equipment that offered the most commonality was the battery-over-hydraulic powered rescue tools. Seems like most, if not all, of the rescue tool manufacturers I visited were touting their latest and greatest battery-powered, metal-eating monsters.

I have to admit that I believe that battery-powered rescue tools have their place; however, they are no substitute for heavy-duty, power unit, hose-equipped hydraulic rescue tools-especially for the extra tough new cars of today and tomorrow. That said, I also have to admit that I learned an entirely new application of and appreciation for these formidable battery-powered, self-contained rescue tools.

I have always felt that battery-powered tools were an asset for applications involving vehicles “over the side” or in precarious places where traditional hose-tethered rescue tools could not access. Technical rescue and USAR applications such as collapse operations and the like are perfect situations for battery-powered tools to shine.

A brother from New York happened to be in a rescue tool manufacturer’s booth at the same time I was when I presented a question about the versatility of battery-powered tools. What he shared with me was nothing short of brilliant and, quite honestly, not something I would have thought of. He presented me with the scenario of a fire in a multifamily, multistory dwelling. The fire is located at or above the second floor, and the windows on the dwelling involved have burglar bars. The ladder or platform truck can send personnel up the ladder or in the platform bucket with a battery-powered rescue tool cutter and make extremely short work of removing those burglar bars! This is obviously a relevant application where traditional hose-tethered rescue tools would not be the appropriate tools of choice. The all-in-one type battery-powered tool would be a perfect answer to this forcible entry situation.

For those of you who know me, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention one other “shining light” at FDIC International, and this came from my firefighter/EMT wife, who joined me. She pointed out to me that with greater than 30,000 firefighters gathered in Indianapolis for an entire week, it is the only mass gathering of humanity in her world where the lines to the ladies rooms were nonexistent no matter where we went, while the lines to the men’s rooms were as one would expect.

Third Annual FDIC International/FAMA Product Showcase Covers UAVs

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