Fire Safety Technology

The unexpected resignation and retirement of Federal Signal Corporation’s president and chief executive officer Robert D. Welding on Jan. 1 might just be enough to launch its subsidiary, apparatus manufacturer E-ONE, into an era of stability and growth.

Welding, who had been badgered relentlessly by Wall Street investment bankers to improve quarterly profit margins, was the guy who abruptly cancelled a deal involving $27 million of state, county and municipal funding to build a new E-ONE headquarters and manufacturing plant in Ocala, Fla.

That action set off a storm of events leading to Federal Signal executive Peter Guile, 42, being named E-ONE president in late July.

James E. Goodwin, 63, former CEO and Chairman of the Board of United Airlines, and a Federal Signal board member since 2005, was named interim president and chief executive officer.

One of Goodwin’s first steps was to fly to Ocala to address the E-ONE management team and show strong support for Peter Guile’s leadership there.

Overall, Guile has been getting high marks on his handling of problems he inherited. Tim O’Neill, owner of Greenwood Fire Apparatus in Massachusetts and primary E-ONE dealer in New England for the past 20 years, said, “Guile has done more in three months than any of his predecessors did in three years to solve problems hindering the dealers… and you can quote me.”

O’Neill is influential on the E-ONE dealership council due to his long tenure, and he credits Guile with a redesign of the Tradition Series program truck line that eliminates constraints on minor customer modifications that were hurting sales.

Tradition models are now being delivered within 16 weeks of order placement – and custom chassis pumpers are being turned out of the plant right on schedule at six months from order.

Despite the shifting winds blowing through Federal Signal’s headquarters outside Chicago, E-ONE has been filling gaps in its dealer network and winning some big, multiple truck orders.

As 2007 came to a close, Hillsborough County, Fla., which includes the Tampa area, signed a $33 million contract extension for more E-ONE apparatus over the next six years. Winnipeg, Manitoba, just ordered 10 custom Typhoon Pumpers in a new $4.9 million contract.

Bob Welding’s resignation and retirement undoubtedly was triggered by the expected $12 million of losses generated by E-ONE this past year – the highest ever. However, Peter Guile is undaunted in his outlook for the company in 2008.

This fall Guile flew to Malibu, Calif., where wildfires were sweeping out of control, to see 16 brand new E-ONE custom pumpers roll on their first emergency response, all in a line on the freeway. They were part of an order from Orange County, Calif., and Guile was duly impressed.

Boston took delivery of two 110-foot rearmount aerials in late December and the company won bids for three more aerials to be delivered in 2008 along with three new E-ONE Urban Pumpers with low-height hosebeds that were introduced at the 2007 FDIC trade show.

Four new key area dealers were named as 2007 closed out and Guile is confident the company will soon be again profitable. With the backing and enthusiasm he has from his dealer council, we’d say things are finally on the upswing at E-ONE.

It’s time for the annual Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Magazine’s awards for the best new innovations introduced in the last year.

Best New Apparatus Model

The Pierce Ultimate Configuration – the PUC – which, despite its strange sounding name, actually wins hands-down for the best new apparatus model. The PUC option is available on all Velocity, Impel, XL and Quantum chassis.

The “configuration” isn’t an actual model at all, but a different way of building various Pierce body styles that (a) eliminates the traditional midship pump house unit and (b) incorporates a unique Pierce pump design that can provide for constant engine-pump power without using the common split-shaft power transfer system.

The pump – built by W. S. Darley to Pierce’s proprietary design – is really the major innovation of the PUC. The pump is run by a power take-off (pto) shaft engaged by an electromagnetic clutch. But this system goes beyond the traditional pump-and-roll designs used at low speed.

With no need to shift from road to pump upon arrival at a fire scene, there is one less thing for the operator to think about and a lot less things to go wrong. Setting the parking brake puts the transmission in neutral, and a single switch engages the pump before the driver even exits the cab.

Power tilting the cab not only provides engine access, but also unveils the pump, mounted so as to make changing a valve and other connections easy. The “no-pump-house” layout easily takes a full day off the time required for any major pump service.

Darley, which also builds pumps for Seagrave, celebrates its 100th Anniversary this year and is considered “everybody’s choice” for specialty pump applications. The company built its first fire pumps in 1932 and now has manufacturing and sales facilities all over the world.

CEO Bill Darley focused the company on providing pumps for small independent fire apparatus manufacturers over the last 50 years, as well as building unique pumps for the U. S. Navy, Coast Guard and other military operations. Pierce made a wise choice in selecting Darley to build its new line of PTO-driven, high-volume pumps.

Honorable Mention

An Honorable Mention Award goes to E-ONE’s new Quest model, which represents the most significant redesign of the company’s cab in many years.

The Quest’s main features are not in its streamlined outward appearance, but inside the cab. A huge increase in windshield area and a lowering of the driver’s console provides great improvements in visibility. The view is enhanced by two 28-inch windshield wipers with solvent dispensers and a sweep that clears an area that provides a clean path to the outside rearview mirrors.

The cab is both stronger and more spacious than any previous models and three-across rear wall seating provides plenty of room for fully-equipped firefighters.

Best Apparatus Component

Crimson Fire’s Boomer gets the 2007 Award for the Best New Component. The Boomer is a new approach to an old problem – how to provide an elevated master stream on a pumper. In the 1970s the Squrt came out with an articulating boom, which later developed into the Tele-Squrt, a telescoping version. But the Boomer is more versatile.

This 28-foot hydraulically-operated, heavy-duty mast is much more than just a way to get a horizontal, deep-penetration stream into a third or fourth floor of a commercial building. It can be used as a 6,000-watt scene lighting tower, a remote camera platform, a power port for hydraulic rescue tools, a supply source for rooftop handlines and even as a crane boom.

The Boomer’s nozzle will deliver 1,000 gpm and can be swiveled a full 360 degrees. The boom itself will go from minus 10 degrees, to a full upright 90 degrees. At $50,000 it provides greatly expanded capabilities at only about a 15 percent increase in cost over the standard custom pumper.

Crimson has a 48-foot version on the drawing boards, but that will require rear mounting and outrigger jacks for stabilization.

Firefighter Protection Systems

TenCate Southern Mills’ Quantum 3D Barrier is one of two 2007 award winners in the Firefighter Protection Systems category.

In what the company says is the first significant improvement to thermal barriers for turnout gear to be introduced in years, TenCate Southern Mills launched its Quantum 3D barrier last year.

All too often PPE garment makers are forced to choose between weight, breathability, stiffness and bulk when trying to improve thermal protective performance in turnout gear.

Southern Mills has come up with a solution to that dilemma by offering a new fabric that is actually three dimensional in its design.

Little bumps woven into the fabric, a propriety design of Southern Mills that provides better protection without adding weight and bulk, actually make the material less stiff. The texture is part of the material, which retains its shape without flattening out, even after multiple washings and compression from sitting or general use.

The patent-pending product provides higher thermal efficiency and insulation while enhancing ease of movement and improved flexibility.

The Quantum 3D product provides flexibility while reducing stiffness by 50 percent over other Southern Mills barriers. It is also thin and lightweight, weighing 7.7 ounces per square yard.

Bauer Compressors’ Maxi Verticus gets the second award for Firefighter Protection Systems.

There was a time when a degree in quantum physics would have been useful in figuring out how to fill SCBA bottles using the cascade refilling system. But those days are long gone with the advent of Bauer Compressors’ Maxi Verticus refilling system.

The new Maxi Verticus has a touch screen control panel, which eliminates traditional pressure gauges and monitors pressures automatically. Refilling a bottle can be done, literally, with a touch on the screen.

Also displayed on the LDC screen, in real time, is compressor temperature and oil level.

The whole system is packaged in a clean, modern case painted in the distinctive Bauer blue and white scheme.

The Maxi Verticus represents the top of the line for Bauer, a company well known for high-quality products.

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