Jersey City, New Jersey’s second largest city, is located on the west bank of the Hudson River (sometimes known as Captain Sully’s landing pad), directly across from Lower Manhattan. The city has approximately 275,000 residents living in 13 square miles.
When I was a newly promoted lieutenant, I was assigned to Engine 2 in the first battalion near the waterfront. We had several large manufacturing companies nearby including Colgate Palmolive, the Dixon pencil factory, and Onyx Chemical, just to name a few. As time went on, these large companies moved out, possibly because of cheaper labor costs in other parts of the country, which left many abandoned row houses; rundown brownstones; railroad yards with decaying railroad piers on the river; and vacant, large cold storage warehouses. There were very few high-rise buildings in Jersey City at that time.
1 The Jersey City, New Jersey, skyline as seen from Manhattan. [Photo by Captain Anthony Klocko, Jersey City (NJ) Fire Department]
Jersey City then went through a renaissance period. As the factories moved out, young professionals moved in, primarily because of the close proximity to New York City via the Holland Tunnel and the Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH) railroad. Housing was cheaper, and many of the brownstones I mentioned were totally renovated and now sell for seven figures! It also became a tourist destination with national treasures such as the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Liberty State Park on our side of the river. A large shopping mall, hotels, and a light rail system have replaced the railroad yards of yesteryear.
The tragic events of 9/11 caused many businesses, including large financial institutions, to rethink their operating locations in Manhattan and move their operations to Jersey City, where real estate costs were lower and it was possibly less hazardous for their operations. This, in turn, caused many of their employees to relocate as well.
Since ground space was limited, and there was no room to build out, the only way to build was up. Jersey City now has more than 200 high-rise buildings with an additional 100 more on the drawing board. This is the most in New Jersey and I am told is 13th in the nation. This is all prime real estate for office space, residential use, and hotels.
ADDRESSING A PROBLEM
When the high-rise buildings are complete, state-of-the-art fire pump/standpipe systems are in place to assist in fighting fires. The problem that the Jersey City (NJ) Fire Department has encountered is high-rise buildings under construction. There have been several fires on the upper floors involving wooden concrete forms coated in oil, construction debris, and combustible contactors’ equipment and supplies stored there. Instances from the fire pumps not operating to missing or open valves in the standpipe risers have caused the fire department to make long, hard stretches up stairwells to combat fires.
Chief of Department Steven McGill identified the problem and assigned Chief of Staff Deputy Chief Henry DiGuilio to investigate how the fire department could expand fire protection for this situation as well as combat the possible failure of a fire protection system in a complete building.
While investigating the problem, DiGulio reached out and received help from our neighbors across the river, the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). Command staff at the FDNY were most helpful in describing their “high-pressure pumper operations” and provided guidance. The FDNY currently has five three-stage high-pressure pumpers in service. This will be New Jersey’s first three-stage pumper (other than those with low-flow, high-pressure booster pumps).
The high-pressure pumper that was specified to meet the needs of the Jersey City Fire Department was manufactured by Pierce and assigned to Engine 6 in the center of the first battalion. While developing specifications, one of the first considerations was that this unit had to function as a first-due engine to fires in ordinary buildings and was not just for high-rise responses.
2 Jersey City Engine 6, a Pierce Enforcer high-pressure pumper. (Photo by Ron Jeffers.)
3 The pumper has cab seating for five with emergency medical services compartments accessible from the inside and out. (Photos 3-17 by author.)
4 The new engine has Whelen LED front and side 12-volt scene lights.
5 Visible at the rear of the cab roof is an LED rotating blue light to indicate that the high-pressure pump is engaged.
6 The front bumper is painted steel with rubber dock bumpers for extra durability.
Some of the basic specifications include an Enforcer chassis, a Detroit DD13 525-horsepower engine, an Allison 4000 EVS transmission, and a Jacobs Engine Brake®. The heart of the operation is the Waterous 2000/500 three-stage pump with mechanical seal. The front axle is a TAK-4 independent suspension type, and a Reyco air-ride rear suspension is installed. The unit has a 500-gallon polypropylene water tank.
The cab has seating for five and has recessed handrails as well as externally accessible compartments for emergency medical services gear. In addition, several “Clean Cab” features have been incorporated, including treadplate flooring and all vinyl seats that are easily cleaned to reduce the exposure to carcinogenetic products of combustion that ride home with us.
A Whelen warning light package is installed as well as Whelen Pioneer 12-volt scene lights mounted on the front and sides of the cab. External LED tank indicator lights are on each side of the cab.
7, 8 Enclosed compartments for standpipe hose are located above the lower right compartments.
A blue LED rotating light on the rear of the cab illuminates automatically when the high-pressure pump is activated.
The front bumper has a recessed suction inlet with manual valve, recessed 2½-inch discharge, and center-mounted hose tray for large-diameter hose (LDH). The steel bumper is extremely durable and has two rubber dock bumpers to add to its durability.
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In addition to the Federal Q2B mechanical siren, the unit has a Federal “Rumbler” to catch the attention of the residents who might be distracted by loud music or texting while driving.
High-rise standpipe storage compartments have been included over the right-side lower compartments. DiGulio explains that the harsh winter weather with road salt, etc. has had an adverse effect on the previous externally mounted hose. Ground ladders and suction hose are mounted above.
Another unique feature of this rig is no crosslay or speedlay hosebeds. They were underutilized on the other apparatus, so all hose storage is at the rear of the body. The hosebed has storage for 1¾-, 2-, 2½-, and 5-inch supply hose. LDH and standard discharges are available below the hosebed.
9 All attack and supply lines are located in the rear hosebed.
10 High-pressure hose to feed standpipes is located in a compartment over the right-side pump panel.
11 The third-stage transfer valve (under the switches) activates the high-pressure mode.
12 The first two stages develop 600 psi, and the third stage increases it to 800 psi.
13 An automatic bypass line keeps the pump cool when the third stage is engaged.
14 Two high-pressure discharges, marked in red, are located on the right-side pump panel away from the operator. A D-ring is mounted to the framework of the pump compartment for retainment attachment.
15, 16 A strap system is attached to the high-pressure lines to contain them in case of a failure.
17 Guardians of the Gold Coast!
High-pressure standpipe feed line is stored in a compartment over the right pump panel. This hose is currently rated at 600-pounds-per-square-inch (psi) operating pressure with an 1,800-psi burst pressure rating. Currently, only Engine 6 has the hose but in the future, all engines will be equipped with it as their standard line to connect to a standpipe. If the high-pressure unit needs to be placed into operation, the correct hose will already be available without shutting down the operation.
When operating in high-pressure mode, the first two stages can develop up to 600 psi. When the third stage transfer valve (under the switch panel) is activated, it boosts the pressure up to 800 psi for the high-pressure discharges.
When in high-pressure mode, a bypass line is automatically activated to prevent pump overheating.
The pumper has two high-pressure discharges on the right-side pump panel away from the operator. The high-pressure discharges and controls are marked in red. Above the discharges are 500-pound D-rings attached to the framework of the pump housing to secure hose.
DiGulio worked with the manufacturer of a bailout system to develop the hose restraint system. In the event of a high-pressure hose failure, the restraint system will contain the hose and prevent it from causing injury to personnel in the area.
Engine companies in the first battalion are being cross-trained on high-pressure operations. As part of the high-pressure standard operating procedure, two pump operators will be assigned when in the high-pressure mode, so the main operator does not have to leave the panel for any reason.
Jersey City has made great strides over the years, and the Jersey City Fire Department is keeping pace with the progress. The apparatus of Engine 6 is only the latest addition to the “Guardians of the Gold Coast.”
WILLIAM C. PETERS retired after 28 years with the Jersey City (NJ) Fire Department, having served the last 17 years as battalion chief/apparatus supervisor. He was a voting member of the NFPA 1901 apparatus committee for several years and is the author of Fire Apparatus Purchasing Handbook (Fire Engineering) and numerous apparatus-related articles.