Apparatus Purchasing: Can’t Afford a Real Ladder Truck, Part 3

BY BILL ADAMS

The apparatus purchasing committee (APC) provided dealers with its wish list asking if its pumper-ladder (PL) design is doable. Some dealers prefer promoting known profitable apparatus that are easy to sell rather than expending time and resources on a perceived far-fetched design. Some will decline to participate. They could be candid by offering alternatives and recommendations for questionable requests.

Dave Perkins, East Coast aerial sales manager for E-ONE, a REV Group brand, and I portray a dealer complying with the APC’s instructions: “These are the parameters we have to work within. This is what we want and how we’d like it laid out. Tell us if you can do it or if you have a better way of doing it.” >We will stay within its maximum 208-inch wheelbase (WB), 126-inch overall height (OAH), and 402-inch overall length (OAL)—without questioning their motives or reasoning. The PL will not be proprietary to Perkins’s employer or to any manufacturer either of us have previously worked for.

START

How do dealers and apparatus manufacturers (OEMs) determine design feasibility? First, a sketch is made of the proposed rig. Nine OEMs build medium four-door custom cabs. Their BC measurements from the front axle’s (FA) center line (CL) to the back of the cab varies from 54 to more than 62 inches. We’ll use an average of 58 inches.

The 208-inch WB less 58 inches is 150 inches. Deducting two inches for a cab-to-body clearance leaves 148 inches usable to the CL of the rear axle (RA) for the body (including a separate or integral pumphouse). An acceptable industry overhang (OH) from the RA’s CL to the back of the tailboard (rear step) is 100 inches. Add the 148 inches and 100 inches and deduct an 8-inch tailboard and you get 240 inches available to build the body.

From the 402-inch OAL, deduct the 58-inch BC, the two-inch gap, the 240-inch body length, and the eight-inch rear step and there’s 94 inches left from the FA’s CL to the end of a front bumper extension. Can everything fit into that 402-inch envelope?

Final build decisions rest with the “factory approval” of the OEM’s sales and engineering staff that addresses items such as mechanical design, “take-outs,” side-to-side and front-to-rear weight distributions, electrical loads, centers of gravity, hydraulics, costing, and scheduling. Astute dealers prepare comprehensive presentations to influence OEM approval. Plagiarizing good ideas is not illegal, so we incorporated features used by various OEMs. Our layout prioritizes meeting performance criteria, firefighter safety, and maximum use of space.

GROUND LADDERS

The longest and heaviest ground ladders are proposed to be hung on the right hand side (RHS) over low side compartments two inches back from the cab and two inches in from the tailboard. Specifications for Duo-Safety Series 1200-A 2-section extension ladders and Series 875-DR double-end roof ladders show the 35-foot extension is 244 inches long and weighs 122 pounds. Each 20-foot roof ladder is 243 inches long, weighing 56 pounds.

The 28-foot extension is 196 inches long and weighs 87 pounds. Each 16-foot roof ladder is 195 inches long, weighing 49 pounds. The three will slide inside the body alongside the booster tank and possibly into the pumphouse. Ladders protruding into a pumphouse is not a new idea (photo 1).

Ladders extending into the pumphouse on a Smeal pumper. This rig has nonpreconnected hose on reels: 2½-inch on the curb side and 1¾-inch on the road side.

1 Ladders extending into the pumphouse on a Smeal pumper. This rig has nonpreconnected hose on reels: 2½-inch on the curb side and 1¾-inch on the road side. (Photo by author.)

VENDORS’ HELP

Dealers do—and purchasers should—solicit technical advice from component part manufacturers. We questioned how to bank the 35-foot and two 20-foot ladders. Duo-Safety’s Randy Vandersee solved the problem, saying, “Oversize one of the roof ladder’s width, allowing it to bank over the 35-foot’s fly section or over the other 20-footer. All three can fit in 11¾ inches.”

He adds, “In an internal compartment, you do not want any of the ladders to touch one another. Rubbing on each other is a huge problem that may cause damage and should be avoided, so dividers are required. Otherwise leave at least a ¼ inch extra [in] both directions as a minimum; more is better.”

LOW REAR PRECONNECTS

Next addressed are the four rear beds for preconnects. Other OEMs have provided storage for preconnects in slide-out trays beneath the main hosebed (photos 2, 3, and 4). Good idea; problem solved. Piping can run under or though the tank. Trays can be single or two tiers wide.

Four rear preconnects in trays beneath the main hosebed. One is two tiers wide and the others are single stacked. Discharges are below the trays.

2 Four rear preconnects in trays beneath the main hosebed. One is two tiers wide and the others are single stacked. Discharges are below the trays. (Photo courtesy of KME.)

ive tray-mounted shoulder-load preconnects beneath the main bed on a rear-mount Rosenbauer pumper Kaza Fire Equipment delivered to the Lakemount (PA) Volunteer Fire Company. The preconnected ground monitor and the LDH butt with attached hydrant valve and the elasticized tie-downs for the bed covers are reachable from ground level when hooked up.

3 Five tray-mounted shoulder-load preconnects beneath the main bed on a rear-mount Rosenbauer pumper Kaza Fire Equipment delivered to the Lakemount (PA) Volunteer Fire Company. The preconnected ground monitor and the LDH butt with attached hydrant valve and the elasticized tie-downs for the bed covers are reachable from ground level when hooked up. (Photo by author.)

The Skokie (IL) Fire Department started using slide-out trays beneath its main hosebed for skid loads in 2013. Several engines were similarly retrofitted in house. After delivery of a rig on order, all first-line engines, the rescue, and a reserve pumper will have them. The main bed carries 800 feet of five-inch LDH. The two outer beds carry 500 feet of three-inch and 450 feet of 2½-inch set up for reverse lays with skid loads. One tray carries three 50-foot shoulder loads of 2½-inch with a 1¼-inch smooth bore leader line tip preconnected to the 2½-inch bed. The right side trays carry two 50-foot shoulder loads of 2½-inch with a leader line wye and 100 feet of 1¾-inch. The far left tray normally carries a high-rise pack. Battalion Chief Bill Endre says, “The unique part of our beds is all of the shoulder loads are stored ‘under the main hosebed’ in trays that are easy to reload. Their bottoms are 50 inches off the ground, making them accessible without climbing onto the tailboard. It reduces the chance for injury and makes for a very quick lead-out. The shoulder loads are connected to the top of the flat lay, which makes them play out smoothly while walking away or reverse laying to a hydrant. This nontraditional configuration (shoulder loads under the main bed) was dreamed up by several now-retired fire officers who took on the challenge of thinking outside the box. They, with the rest of the apparatus committee, were tasked with figuring out a way to reduce the chance of injury while speeding the deployment of the first-in hoseline.”

4 The Skokie (IL) Fire Department started using slide-out trays beneath its main hosebed for skid loads in 2013. Several engines were similarly retrofitted in house. After delivery of a rig on order, all first-line engines, the rescue, and a reserve pumper will have them. The main bed carries 800 feet of five-inch LDH. The two outer beds carry 500 feet of three-inch and 450 feet of 2½-inch set up for reverse lays with skid loads. One tray carries three 50-foot shoulder loads of 2½-inch with a 1¼-inch smooth bore leader line tip preconnected to the 2½-inch bed. The right side trays carry two 50-foot shoulder loads of 2½-inch with a leader line wye and 100 feet of 1¾-inch. The far left tray normally carries a high-rise pack. Battalion Chief Bill Endre says, “The unique part of our beds is all of the shoulder loads are stored ‘under the main hosebed’ in trays that are easy to reload. Their bottoms are 50 inches off the ground, making them accessible without climbing onto the tailboard. It reduces the chance for injury and makes for a very quick lead-out. The shoulder loads are connected to the top of the flat lay, which makes them play out smoothly while walking away or reverse laying to a hydrant. This nontraditional configuration (shoulder loads under the main bed) was dreamed up by several now-retired fire officers who took on the challenge of thinking outside the box. They, with the rest of the apparatus committee, were tasked with figuring out a way to reduce the chance of injury while speeding the deployment of the first-in hoseline.” (Photo courtesy of Battalion Chief Bill Endre and Lieutenant Mike Gierut.)

PUMPHOUSE, OPERATOR’S PANEL, AND PUMP

Perkins suggested mimicking a narrow pumphouse and panel design used in Boston, Massachusetts (photo 5), with low and wide crosslays, six discharges, and four inlets. The PL has six discharges, two inlets, no crosslays, and no hose connections on the operator’s panel. It’ll work. The crosslay area can be used for equipment storage.

We asked Jason Darley, North American sales manager for W.S. Darley’s pump division, to suggest a pump type, saying the PL will be 5-inch large-diameter hose (LDH) equipped. It would seldom draft but if required to, the rear steamer should be as efficient as possible. Large volume pumping would be at the scene through the two each 5-inch, 3-inch, and 2½-inch discharges. Supply would be from pressurized sources via the gated rear and RHS steamers.

A narrow pumphouse with low crosslays standard on Boston (MA) Fire Department pumpers. The crosslay area can provide additional equipment storage.

5 A narrow pumphouse with low crosslays standard on Boston (MA) Fire Department pumpers. The crosslay area can provide additional equipment storage. (Photo courtesy of Bill Noonan.)

Darley says, “A lightweight end-suction pump such as Darley’s compact TSM-2000 will meet the PL’s performance requirements while minimizing the spatial impact on apparatus design and, in particular, the pumphouse. An end-suction design enables the OEM to customize flow-efficient suction piping for specific locations such as using a dual rolling 45-degree offset in lieu of 90-degree elbows for a rear suction. Dual six-inch suctions with six-inch butterfly valves will maximize flow both in drafting and in hydrant operations (throughput). The easier OEMs make the path of the water when drafting, the more flow is possible. The TSM-2000 design enables OEMs to tailor discharge manifolds to meet flow-specific discharge locations.”

LDH BED

The PL’s rear end is very busy. With the 800-gallon tank, a low bed didn’t appear to be a viable option—probably impossible but nonetheless hotly debated. The APC did not specify a low LDH bed but did require oversized access steps and a walkway to facilitate loading the LDH. We complied.

WALKWAY ALTERNATIVES

An earlier statement saying dealers should offer alternatives and recommendations is very applicable when “running out of space.” A fictitious hosebed walkway 16 inches wide, 10 feet long, and two feet high contains almost 27 cubic feet.

  1. It could hold one tier each of 1¾-, 2½-, and 3-inch hose with dividers. A quick rule of thumb for up to 3-inch hose is figure ½ inch per flat lay. Two feet equals 48 lays of hose times 10 feet less a 10% “slop factor” equates to about 400 feet of each size.
  2. Or, using the same rule of thumb with ¾-inch per lay, there’s enough room for 500 to 600 feet of 5-inch two tiers wide.
  3. Or, multiplying the walkway’s length, width, and height in inches and dividing by 231 equates to increased tank capacity by about 200 gallons.
REELS AND CUSTOMIZATION

Why design a rig costing more than a half million dollars around inexpensive component parts? It became obvious with the tank size and walkway, everything might not fit in the main hosebed. The specs did not say spare hose must be stored in adjoining beds or at the rear. One solution is storing some of the spare hose on reels (photo 1).

The Hannay catalog shows a multitude of LD Series spools (reels) with dimensional data to hold nonpreconnected hose. None met our requirements. We contacted Rob Motchmann, sales engineer at Hannay, who said the company could custom fabricate a reel that would. Motchmann also mentioned Hannay can customize the drum lengths on its power rewind rescue reels for electric cable, which helped us later.

COMPARTMENTATION AND VERSATILITY

Hanging the 35/20/20 ladders low on the body requires RHS low-side compartments. The equipment list necessitates full-depth LHS high-side compartments. Sliding the 28/16/16 ladders in the rear dictates a rectangular and probably an L-shaped booster tank configuration.

Dealers can’t mandate exact locations for every large item without “factory” approval. They can offer flexibility to both the APC and OEM by suggesting alternate locations such as mounting the hydraulic generator, electric rewind cord reels, and spare hose storage reels on top of the body, over the pumphouse, in compartments, or any combination thereof.

Read specification and wish list verbiage carefully. The number and lengths of the 40 feet of suction hose were not specified. Will three 14-foot sections work? The vertical slide-out tool boards were not specified “full height,” nor were exact sizes given for the swing-out tool boards. Why have the pump operator’s compartment next to the pump operator’s panel when there are no hose connections on it? Can the foam tank be located above the pumphouse?

It was wise not specifying compartment dimensions. At this juncture, “sales presentation” drawings could be made showing the concept’s feasibility. Future equipment layouts require OEM “engineering” drawings confirming dimensions, capacities, and exactly how much space is left available for compartments and what their sizes “can be.”

Part 4 will have some drawings. This PL concept just might work.


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.

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