By Alan M. Petrillo
Howard County (MD) Department of Fire and Rescue Services was looking to replace an engine and an aerial platform, and while quality, service, and price were important considerations, safety elements in the new rigs were a big concern for the department.
So after doing its research and due diligence and after multiple demos with four local vendors representing major apparatus manufacturers, Howard County chose E-ONE to build the new vehicles.
“In our research, we found E-ONE’s PROTECH Safety System and decided it would be a very good thing for our personnel,” says Martin “Pat” LePore, Howard County battalion chief. “We liked the thoroughness of the entire system, with all its component systems.”
E-ONE’s PROTECH Safety System comes with the OnGuard® collision warning and mitigation system, front and side roll air bags, a G4® electronic stability control system, a CrewGuard™ occupant detection system, and a 360-degree camera system, according to Joe Hedges, E-ONE’s product manager for chassis and aerials. “Howard County had PROTECH Safety Systems installed in both the aerial platform and the custom pumper,” Hedges says, “and they added collision avoidance system backup sensors on the aerial platform.”
Aerial Platform Apparatus
Hedges says the 95-Platform has a welded extruded aluminum aerial that has a 2.5:1 structural safety factor, which he notes is 25 percent higher than the safety factor required of aerials by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). “The aerial is rated at 92 feet high,” he notes, “and can carry 750 pounds and three firefighters in the platform dry, or two firefighters and 500 pounds wet.” The platform carries a single Task Force Tips 1,250-gallon-per-minute (gpm) monitor.
“The aerial platform has our integral torque box chassis and an extruded aluminum body on a wheelbase of 250 inches, an overall length of 46 feet 3 inches, and an overall height of 11 feet 10 inches,” Hedges says. “The turntable deck is painted with Line-X®, and the aerial ladder is lit by all red Amdor Luma-Bar Pathfinder LED strip lights.” The aerial platform truck is powered by a Cummins 500-horsepower (hp) ISX12 diesel engine and an Allison 4500 EVS automatic transmission.
Christine Uhlhorn, Howard County’s logistics chief, says the custom pumper is powered by a Cummins 450-hp ISL9 diesel engine and an Allison 3000 EVS automatic transmission and carries a Hale 1,500-gpm Qmax pump, a 750-gallon water tank, a 30-gallon foam cell, and a FoamPro 2001 foam system.
Steve Beavers, president of Patriot Fire LLC, who sold the vehicles to Howard County, points out that the custom pumper has a stainless steel body to protect it from the salt air and the corrosive salts used on Maryland’s roads during the winter. “Because of the salt we get on the roads, the stainless steel body on the pumper was the right fit for them,” Beavers says, “but it wouldn’t work for the aerial platform because of the weight of the stainless steel on so large an apparatus body. We’re not too far from the Atlantic Ocean, being on Chesapeake Bay with its brackish water, so we get salty air, but the corrosive effect of road salt is the worst problem.”
Uhlhorn notes that the department has an apparatus replacement program that considers engine hours, age, condition, and idle hours on its apparatus. “We have rotated some apparatus from busier stations to slower stations to prolong their lives,” she says. “But in general, we plan for 15 years for a front-line aerial and 10 years for front-line engines and tankers. However, some of them might be replaced sooner if they have too many hours on them or develop troubles that can’t be solved easily.”
LePore points out that the E-ONE custom pumper has a rescue body for compartmentation but is not equipped as a typical rescue-pumper with hydraulic rescue tools. “It’s based at a special operations station, and we had E-ONE build in compartments in the dunnage area above the pump where we could store light items like personal flotation devices and throw bags that are used in water rescue,” LePore says. “Also, we asked our firefighters, and they wanted to keep with engine tradition and have the ground ladders and hard suction mounted on the exterior of the officer’s side of the pumper instead of enclosed or on top in a ladder rack. That means we only have half-height compartments on the curb side of the pumper.”
Uhlhorn adds that the aerial platform also serves as a satellite special operations unit. “While it responds to fires, accidents, and emergency medical services (EMS) incidents for the western side of our county,” she says, “it also is part of a special operations team that handles confined space, hazardous materials incidents, swift water rescues, and technical rescues. The special operations team responds to 2,000 incidents a year.”
One of the noticeable features of the aerial platform, LePore says, besides the waving American flag emblem on the front of the rig is its red-white-and-blue color scheme. “Our chief, John S. Butler, is a veteran, and the aerial platform is assigned to a station that’s adjacent to a National Guard building and a nearby Veterans of Foreign Wars Post,” LePore points out. “The chief and the rest of us wanted to show support for our troops, both current and past, so the color scheme and flag were our opportunity to do so.”
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.