BY BOB VACCARO
Loudoun County, Virginia, is one of the fastest growing areas of the Middle Atlantic; to keep up with the task is the Loudoun County Combined Fire-Rescue System (LC-CFRS), made up of the career Loudoun County Fire and Rescue (LCFR) and 16 volunteer companies.
LC-CFRS, one of the largest fire departments in Virginia, has approximately 1,500 volunteers and 500 career staff made up of firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMT), paramedics, and other emergency responders.
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LC-CFRS uses a combined system to help respond to a diverse population spread throughout a suburban and rural county. Units can respond to building types that range from wood-frame single-family homes to high-rise structures, bridges and tunnels, large parks and wooded areas that can give rise to major brush fires, as well as large stretches of forest and mountains such as the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Over the past several years, the department has been upgrading and adding apparatus as well as adding additional stations to cover its expanding area. As the area grows, so does the department’s need for additional types of specialized apparatus.
Battalion Chief Adam Davis, who heads the department’s Asset Management Division, says, “We began the process of looking into purchasing an air unit and a rehab unit for the department’s use approximately two years ago. We had a smaller air unit but never had a rehab unit before, so we thought this was the right time to design this type of apparatus and make it safer for our firefighters on the fireground or for hazmat use during prolonged operations.”
1 The Loudoun County (VA) rehab unit, built on a Peterbilt 348 chassis with a Pierce HDR body. (Photos 1-2 courtesy of Pierce Manufacturing.)
2 The air unit, built on a Peterbilt 348 chassis with a Pierce HDR body.
“We began looking at various types of units in the northern Virginia area and different manufacturers as well,” he continues, “since this time around we didn’t have to go out for bid because of being able to use HGAC for the purchase.” The department decided to go with Pierce and Atlantic Emergency Solutions, which is the Pierce dealer in the area.
Davis says, “We have used the dealer and Pierce many times in the past and were satisfied with Pierce for the quality in apparatus builds and Atlantic Emergency Solutions for the service after the sale as well as helping us during the design and build process. Our department has worked many times in the past with the Pierce engineers at the factory, and they are very familiar with Loudoun County Fire Rescue and our people. The working relationship we had with Pierce and the local dealer helped us a great deal.”
Mobile Air Unit
Heavy-duty rescue aluminum body
Scott 20-hp compressor and eight cascade storage cylinders
Paccar PX-9 380 HP
Front: Dana Spicer 13,200 pounds
Rear: Dana Spicer 30,000 pounds
Peterbilt 348 cab and chassis
HDR walk-in aluminum body
Paccar PX-9 450-hp
Front: Dana Spicer 14,600 pounds
Rear: Dana Spicer 26,000 pounds
“Since cost was a factor, we went with two commercial chassis for both units. Choosing Peterbilt cabs and chassis kept it simple for us as far as commonality of parts and driver training. The bodies are built around Pierce’s HDR program.”
“Both of the units will be used twofold: They will respond together on a dispatch for a rapid intervention team as well as any prolonged hazmat or structural fire response. Should the need arise, they can also respond mutual aid to any department in the northern Virginia area.”
The rehab unit has a full exterior sink, an interior bathroom, and an interior seating area for firefighters to sit in a large heated compartment in the winter. For summer use, it has a fold-out awning and interior air-conditioning. It also has a heated compartment for firefighters to hang their cold or frozen turnout gear on a clothes-hanging bar. Also included are folding chairs, coolers, extra uniforms, small popup tents, a large supply of water bottles, and a small water hose for decontamination purposes.
3 The air unit, showing the air-filling compressor with spare SCBA inventory. (Photos 3-6 courtesy of Loudoun County Fire Rescue.)
4 The rehab unit set up for a rehab scenario.
5 The rehab unit’s full interior bathroom.
6 The roll-out outdoor sink on the rehab unit.
The mobile air unit has 30 clean self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) face pieces and 50 to 60 spare SCBA bottles on hand as well as a built-in Scott 20-horsepower (hp) compressor and eight cascade storage cylinders to fill bottles at the scene.
“Since our firefighters have a second set of clean gear at all fire stations, we didn’t go with a clean cab concept; primarily, we would have had to build the vehicle with extra compartments,” David explains. “Both units were built at Pierce’s Appleton, Wisconsin, plant, so we traveled out for a final inspection and were very satisfied with the outcome.”
|Loudoun County (VA) Fire Rescue |
24 stations; 1,500 volunteers, 500 paid firefighters; 33 engines, six trucks, two tillers, four platforms, five heavy rescues, 44 ambulances, 15 tenders, one hazmat, one rehab unit, and two air units.
“Like all of our past apparatus builds from Pierce, these two were no exception. The design was great and the engineers at Pierce used all our ideas and answered all our questions and concerns,” Davis concludes.
This department decided to upgrade an existing smaller air unit and added a Rehab Unit to greatly enhance response as well as take a proactive stance to protect firefighters. With the help of the local dealer and the engineers at Pierce, the department has taken delivery of two cost-effective specialized units that meet not only National Fire Protection Association standards but also the department’s design and needs. Both units will serve the response area well into the future.
BOB VACCARO has more than 40 years of fire service experience. He is a former chief of the Deer Park (NY) Fire Department. Vaccaro has also worked for the Insurance Services Office, the New York Fire Patrol, and several major commercial insurance companies as a senior loss-control consultant. He is a life member of the IAFC.