FDIC Observations From A ‘Truck Nut’

Fire Department Instructors Conference
The Fire Department Instructors Conference once again took over the Indianapolis Conference Center and filled the attached RCA Dome with the latest and greatest apparatus and fire service products. (Fire Apparatus Photo by David Smith)
Gimaex, a German company, is trying to gain market share in the states and showed off a large hazmat response vehicle. Note the efficient use of space in the rig and the fold down tread plate on the door providing access to items in higher shelves. (Fire Apparatus Photo by Bob Barraclough)
Plastisol is now offering its composite bodies in various configurations. Note the thickness of the body near the side dump opening on the unit built by Alexis Fire Equipment. (Fire Apparatus Photo by Bob Barraclough)
E-ONE's Bronto
E-ONE’s Bronto has excellent access to the aerial turntable with lots of lighting on the steps. (Fire Apparatus Photo by Bob Barraclough)
American LaFrance
American LaFrance showed off an aerial with a nice and clean access to the turntable. Notice the lack of a tailboard. It seems to be a growing trend in the industry to reduce the overall apparatus length and to keep firefighters from climbing where they shouldn’t. (Fire Apparatus Photo)
Spartan Motors
Spartan Motors has figured out a great way to show customers what they have to offer for cabs and features. With over 500 options, this two-ended chassis has just about one of everything. Put a couple of kids in the back cab and drive down the road. It will make for an exciting time for the folks in traffic. (Fire Apparatus Photo by Bob Barraclough)
Ari-Hetra, a maker of truck lifts and exhaust systems located in Manassas, Va., was one of the vendors displaying its wares outside at FDIC.
Pierce's PUC
Pierce’s PUC had slide-out vertical tool boards located where other pumpers would have a pump house. Efficient tool mounting is now becoming a standard on all apparatus. In other words, do it right the first time.
Fire Research
Fire Research had its new seat belt warning system on display. Built-in logic will detect if the correct sit and buckle sequence is not followed, so this should end the sitting on the buckled belt. Yes, we all know it’s a “people problem,” but too often we hear about firefighters ejected from the apparatus during an accident. The chances of surviving accidents are greatly improved when firefighters are seated and belted.
SVI and Tempest
Both SVI and Tempest offer high-capacity positive pressure towers for quickly clearing tunnels, large buildings and other big enclosures. The Chicago Fire Department and the Dallas/Fort Worth airport both have similar units. (Fire Apparatus Photo)
E-ONE's new Quest
E-ONE’s new Quest apparatus featured pull-down straps as standard on the unit’s roll-up doors.

Attendees at this year’s Fire Department Instructors Conference exceeded 27,400 according to Eric Schlett, executive director of the event held in Indianapolis.

Despite the enormous exhibit size and the number of exhibitors, the halls were full of interested fire service people for the full 2.5 days the show operated. It was interesting to watch as members of fire departments in their identical colored T-shirts stopped in the middle of an aisle and whipped out a map to try to find their way to the next exhibitor on their lists of people to see.

In a nutshell, there was too much to see and digest for even a five-day show. Every vendor seemed to have that “ultimate solution” for a problem that some firefighters didn’t even know they had.

For us “truck nuts” there was a never ending number of new wrinkles to charge our batteries and let us think that that some manufacturers had actually reinvented the wheel. With this column are some pictures of new or unique equipment that was displayed at the show.

Spartan Motors had two of the most unusual trucks on display. The first was an armored personnel carrier appropriately labeled “bus to airport.” With a radiator grill protector weighing in at 1,000 pounds and an engine hood cover at 1,500 pounds, you could say it was “hell for stout!” They also brought back the concept of a double-ender chassis that included two cabs; one on the front and one on the back of a chassis, an idea the company launched 20 years ago. It was complete with over 500 different options that are available when purchasing a chassis from the Spartan.

Rosenbauer unveiled five “Tech Drive 07” units, which include the new “RoadRunner” 68-foot telescopic water tower, a Metz 100-foot aerial, a “twin chrome stack” rescue with a command center (the boys on the East Coast will love this) and a version of its urban interface “Timberwolf” apparatus.

The show also brought some good news in the warning light segment of the fire service. The cost of LED lights is going down, and their sizes are getting bigger and their flashes brighter. In fact, Weldon, a division of Akron, unveiled the first in a series of LEDs with flash rate and cycles that can be changed or adjusted by simply putting a preprogrammed flash drive stick near the lens.

As most of you know, I have been recommending all apparatus be equipped with light towers. SuperVac’s Command Light division, Will-Burt and Tempest all had many choices of these versatile products on display. Havis-Shields and Fire Research had their wide range of portable and brow-mounted 12- and 120/240-volt lights available for those of us who like to “touch and feel” the product.

A “Tip of the Helmet” to Fire Research for doing the impossible and introducing a new seat belt monitoring system complete with a lateral “G” force indicator display. And the “nay sayers” said it couldn’t be done for commercial chassis. Fire Research proved them wrong.

Pierce introduced its version of a compact pump house area with its PUC pumper that features a W.S. Darley & Co. pump. For years, some of us have been preaching we are devoting an inordinate amount of space to the pump and plumbing when they are so infrequently used. It’s about time apparatus manufactures really start rethinking pump needs and space requirements, especially in this quickly evolving fire service climate where we find ourselves.

I was interested to see that lime yellow rigs haven’t gone away, but each year there are fewer and fewer of them on display.

There were chassis on display at the show from American LaFrance, International and Freightliner that would be ideal for compact apparatus, but I’ll save the discussion on the need for smaller, cheaper and more maneuverable apparatus for next month.

That’s about it from one tired “truck nut.” As one attendee astutely commented when he left the show, “I’m on information overload!” I can agree with that!

Editor’s Note: Bob Barraclough is editorial director of Fire Apparatus and has been involved with the fire service for more than 40 years as a firefighter and industry consultant. He is a member of the NFPA 1901 Fire Apparatus Standards committee, an organizer of the annual FDSOA Apparatus Specification Symposium and a long-time member of the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers’ Association.

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