Departments Adapt By Ordering Cross-Purpose Apparatus

2003 American LaFrance Metropolitan
Seattle Fire Department Engine 27, a 2003 American LaFrance Metropolitan with a 1,500-gpm Hale pump and a 500-gallon booster tank, supplies multiple lines at a four-alarm warehouse fire on Sept. 20. Engine 27 is one of nine ALF 2003 Metropolitans in front-line service in the city. The warehouse was scheduled for demolition, and the cause of the fire was accidental. One firefighter suffered a fractured ankle. (Fire Apparatus Photo By John Odegard)

New fire truck orders are down significantly, and with the continuing strain on municipal budgets, apparatus manufacturers do not expect the situation to improve next year.

One manufacturer observed that the apparatus purchasing process is becoming more complicated, taking longer and, at times, turning political.

Another said many fire departments are adjusting to tight budgets by replacing two trucks with one apparatus capable of doing both jobs. In addition, most of the trucks that are being purchased do not have the kind of non-essential embellishments that have traditionally been so popular.

Manufacturers are finding that fire departments with enough money to buy new apparatus are seeking vehicles that can be used for more than one function – rescue-pumpers, pumper-tankers, quints and EMS-pumpers.

Mike Moore, director of strategic product development and support for Pierce Manufacturing Inc., said departments are purchasing the apparatus they need, not what they would like to have.

“The past days of frills and parade-style trucks have gone away, but those departments that still need a custom piece of apparatus will buy one, if they can find the funds,” Moore said. “We’re not seeing any trends in departments buying cheaper trucks; rather they’re buying exactly what they need for their municipalities.”

Philip Gerace, director of sales and marketing for KME Fire Apparatus, has seen changes in the purchasing process, especially among municipalities.

“It has become much more drawn out, complicated and political,” he said. “And the time frame from specifications to actual purchase is about 90 days longer than it traditionally has been. Budget issues have caused that because there are more sign-offs, more people involved in the process and chiefs are now charged with the political implications of spending money on fire trucks.”

Departments that are spending money on new fire trucks are choosing multi-function vehicles, he said. “We’re seeing departments buying rescue pumpers and rear-mounted units with rescue applications,” he said. “And our pumper-tanker business continues to be strong.”

Moore agreed that tight budgets are forcing fire departments to rethink their vehicle strategies. Many that do not have money for new equipment, he said, are trying to extend the useful lives of their fleets. “Others that can find the funds are moving toward combination vehicles like pumper-tankers and rescue pumpers,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of departments replace two vehicles with one new vehicle that does both jobs.”

George Logan, vice president of commercial operations for E-ONE, said his company has also experienced a strong trend toward multi-functional vehicles.

“Rescue pumpers, quints, pumper-tankers, we’re seeing all those and other applications,” he said. “People are trying to do more functions with one piece of equipment instead of multiple pieces of apparatus.”

Logan said E-ONE and other manufacturers are adapting to the changing roles in the fire service.

“Firefighters are not there only to fight fires anymore,” he said. “So we’re seeing vehicles that accommodate medical equipment and first-responder type of equipment. These trends have manifested themselves more in 2010 because so many departments are strapped with budget constraints, and all the indicators from the market are that 2011 will be the same.”

Bill Doebler, vice president of sales and marketing for Crimson Fire, said most departments have adopted a mentality of “doing more with less.”

“Declining manpower, reduced budgets, and changes in buying cycles and apparatus purchases mean that people are trying to get as much bang for their buck as possible,” he said. “In the past they might have bought pumpers, aerials and rescues, but now they are looking more at cross-functional apparatus.”

In addition, he said many departments are bringing ambulances in house. “They are warming up to EMS,” he said, “because they are allowed to do third-party billing for EMS, but they can’t charge for fire calls.”

In response, Doebler noted that Crimson Fire launched a patient transport pumper – the First Response All Calls (FRAC) unit – built on either a custom or commercial chassis that can still meet a Class A pumper designation or that of a quick-attack piece.

“It is a traditionally designed pumper with patient transport in the rear,” he said. “It usually isn’t the first piece out the door on a structure fire, but it could be the second.”

Doebler pointed out that the pump on a fire truck is engaged on only an average of five percent of calls these days, which led Crimson to develop its Transformer series.

“The vehicle has a PTO-driven pump mounted in the wheel-well area, which shortens the wheelbase for better maneuverability,” he said. “And it provides enhanced storage capacity with the forward compartments being transverse all the way through where the pump traditionally would be located.”

Greater Responsibilities

Pierce Manufacturing developed the PUC (Pierce Ultimate Configuration) several years ago and offers it in pumper, tanker and combination packages.

“We repackaged the pump so it takes up less space on the truck,” Moore explained. “That increases compartmentation by 30 percent, yet still keeps a large cab and decreases the wheelbase by a foot-and-a-half. It’s being used not only as a pumper, but also in the rescue mode, and the vehicle allows for pump-and-roll capabilities.”

He pointed out that fire departments are taking on greater responsibilities. “They have to carry more and a wider variety of equipment, so they need more compartment space on their trucks,” he said. “Traditionally, a truck would have to get bigger, or you’d have to have two trucks; only recently have there been solutions, like the PUC, that facilitate carrying that extra equipment.”

Other manufacturers have also been making room on various types of apparatus for additional equipment.

EMS Personnel

George Logan of E-ONE said typical engine or ladder companies are now including EMS personnel on their rigs. “Depending on the level of care and service provided, you can even find telemetry equipment and drug boxes on some fire apparatus,” he said. “That’s where we have to provide a secure area for that equipment and in some cases climate control for particular drugs.”

In most cases that equipment is stored inside the cab, he said, but usually with access from both inside and outside the truck because “the fire department wants that equipment near at hand when the guys get off the rig.”

Manufacturers don’t like to talk about how far the market for fire apparatus has fallen due to the recession and its effects on municipal budgets. Some said fire truck orders industry-wide are down as much as 40 percent. Crimson’s Doebler estimated a 25 percent drop in apparatus purchasing over the past year.

“Typically, about 5,500 units are sold across the nation, but we are looking at around 4,000 or less that will be purchased in 2010,” he said. “And it doesn’t look like 2011 will be much better.”

E-ONE demonstration unit
This E-ONE demonstration unit is an example of stainless-steel apparatus the company is making at its new facility in Hamburg, N.Y. The lineup is offered with a choice of three chassis and includes pumpers, rescue pumpers, rescues and aerials. E-ONE uses a patented fiberglass-reinforced panel (FRP) paint process that allows for quick repairs in the event of damage.
Grandview (Texas) Fire Department
The Grandview (Texas) Fire Department has taken delivery of a new Crimson Fire Legend series pumper. The vehicle is built on a Spartan Metro Star custom chassis, has an aluminum body and carries a Waterous 1,500-gpm midship pump and a 1,000-gallon water tank.
Ferrara Igniter custom rescue pumper
This Ferrara Igniter custom rescue pumper for Louisiana State University's Fire & Emergency Training Institute has a 3/16-inch-thick marine grade aluminum alloy cab and body, an extreme duty 3/8-inch-thick steel front bumper, a Hale QMAX 1,500-gpm pump, a CAFS system and a 750-gallon UPF poly water tank with a 20-gallon foam cell. It also features Whelen LEDs on four sides, a Harrison 10,000-watt generator, full-height rescue compartments, rooftop storage, ladders between the tank and high sides, storage for eight SCBA bottles over the rear wheels and enclosed pump panels.
Linden-Peters Fire District
The Linden-Peters Fire District in Linden, Calif., purchased this HME Ahrens-Fox Type I triple-combination pumper. The rig has a Hale Q-FLO 1,250-gpm pump and a diesel-powered Darley 180-gpm pump for pump-and-roll operations. The stainless-steel body has an 850-gallon tank, a 30-gallon foam tank and full compartmentation for enclosed ladder storage and a complete Type III wildland cache. The unit is built on an HME SFO chassis with a 165-inch wheelbase and a Cummins ISL 365-hp engine.
Sutphen Corp
Sutphen Corp. built these two Monarch engines for the Syracuse (N.Y.) Fire Department. Each truck features a 500-hp Cummins ISM engine, a Hale Qmax 2,000-gpm pump, a 500-gallon water tank and a 50-gallon foam cell. They each also have a Foam Pro 2002 foam system, dual 4-inch right side discharges, TFT inlets and a Monsoon RC deluge monitor. The pump module and body are stainless steel and feature Amdor roll-up doors and Whelen LED lighting.
Level Volunteer Fire Company
Level Volunteer Fire Company in Havre de Grace, Md., recently took delivery of this new 4 Guys rescue-pumper featuring a Hurst Octa-Flow system, capable of running eight hydraulic rescue tools simultaneously. Built on a Spartan Gladiator LFD chassis and powered by a 515-hp Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine, it features a 19-foot walk-around rescue body with upper body compartments, backed by 4 Guys’ 30-year body warranty. A UPF poly tank holds 500 gallons of water and 30 gallons of Class B foam.
 Pierce Ultimate Configuration
The Pierce Ultimate Configuration (PUC) alters the way the fire service configures apparatus by removing the bulky pump house without compromising firefighting capabilities. This multi-purpose vehicle, built for the Rochester Hills (Mich.) Fire Department, is easier to use, operate safely, service and maneuver. This PUC pumper features a 1,500-gpm pump, a 1,000-gallon water tank, a Husky foam system, a 30-gallon Class A foam cell, seating for five firefighters and storage for a wide assortment of extrication tools and EMS gear.
Summit Fire Apparatus
Summit Fire Apparatus manufactured this Hazardous Materials CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives) Response Vehicle on a 37-foot, 7-inch custom trailer, with 14 rescue-style compartments, side awnings, a ramp for wheeled equipment, rooftop storage, a Will-Burt light tower, a 25,000-watt generator and a lighted walkway from the front of the vehicle to a rear observation platform. Inside is an enclosed science and research room with a pass-through, fume extraction hood, a work counter and wall cabinets.
Hackney model DFC1164-20
This Hackney model DFC1164-20 for the Winterville (N.C.) Fire Department has a 22-foot custom heavy rescue body mounted on a Spartan MetroStar LFD cab and chassis carrying a 400-hp Cummins diesel with a drop/pinch frame. It has 24-inch-deep roof compartments, a 30,000-watt hydraulic generator, a light tower on the cab roof and 360-degree perimeter flood lighting. Rescue tools and reels are in the front bumper, and the truck has an SCBA fill station, fold-down platform steps and ground ladder storage.
Unruh Fire quick-attack truck
This custom Unruh Fire quick-attack truck on a 2011 F550 chassis with 11-foot custom-built structural-grade aluminum body is built by AWS-certified welders and has a 20-year warranty. It has 300 gallons of water, a diesel pump, a foam proportioner, a custom pump panel, a preconnect crosslay with two 1-1/2-inch lines deployable off either side, underbody storage boxes and a rear compartment for suction storage.
Legacy AerialCat
KME manufactures the 79-foot Legacy AerialCat, available with an unrestricted 500-pound tip load while flowing 1,500 gpm. It is also offered in a 750-pound tip load version. Its ladder is 100,000-psi steel with a 79-foot vertical reach, a 70-foot horizontal reach and an elevation range from minus-7 degrees to plus-80 degrees. The AerialCat can be equipped with a “Store Front Blitz” monitor for unmatched interior attack capability. The vehicle has a 14-foot outrigger stance with the downriggers placed to the rear of the cab.
East Brunswick Independent Fire Company
East Brunswick Independent Fire Company – District # 2 in N.J., owns this Seagrave Fire Apparatus 75-foot Meanstick featuring an all-stainless Marauder II 140-inch tilt cab and seating for six with under-seat compartments. The truck has a Cummins 500-hp engine, a Waterous 2,250-gpm pump, an Akron foam eductor, a 400-gallon water tank with dual 30-gallon foam cells and a Harrison 10,000-watt hydraulic generator. The steel “I-Beam” greaseless aerial ladder has a 500-pound load rating at any elevation with water flowing.
Rosenbauer T-Rex aerial articulating platform
A Rosenbauer T-Rex aerial articulating platform for the Dubuque (Iowa) Fire Department is built on a 228-inch wheelbase with an overall vehicle length of 41 feet. The aerial has 114 feet of vertical and 93 feet of horizontal reach, operates at 18 feet below grade and has a 1,400-pound basket capacity. The aerial operations system keeps the platform within the safe operational envelope regardless of how far the outriggers are extended. The truck carries a 2,000-gpm pump and a 300-gallon water tank.
Bruin (Pa.) Volunteer Fire Department
W.S. Darley & Co. built this pumper for the Bruin (Pa.) Volunteer Fire Department on a Spartan Metro Star chassis with a Cummins ISC 360 engine and an Allison 3000 EVS transmission. The PolyBilt body is constructed from a corrosion-free Copolymer plastic material and has seven compartments with R-O-M roll-up doors. The vehicle carries a Darley single-stage LDMBC 1,500-gpm AutoCAFS fire pump and a 1,000-gallon water tank with an integral 25-gallon foam tank.

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