|Burlington (Vt.) Fire Department was on of the first to put an E-ONE HP95 mid-mount aerial in service. Firefighters assigned to the unit have come to appreciate its compact design, its self-leveling features and its underslung jacks. It’s the first aluminum ladder the city has put in service. (Fire Apparatus Photo by Jon Gilbert Fox)|
|Underslung jacks makes E-ONE’s HP95 mid-mount aerial easy to deploy in tight space. (Staff Photo)|
|E-ONE’s HP95 aerial acheives self-leveling with the deployment of four stablizing jacks, operatated with a handheld control, that come straight down from the unit’s underside. (Fire Apparatus Photos by Jon Gilbert Fox)|
|Senior Firefighter Aaron Collette points out some of the features at the platform control panels.|
|Burlington Fire Lt. Gary Francis uses the tethered, handheld controls to activate the stablizing jacks.|
|Burlington Fire Chief Michael O’Neil is pleased with E-ONE’s commitment to customer service.|
Ask Lt. Gary Francis of the Burlington (Vt.) Fire Department what he likes best about the city’s E-ONE HP95 aerial platform and he’ll give you an answer almost immediately.
“It is self-leveling which makes it a one-man operation,” says Francis, one of three lieutenants assigned to the 2003 95-foot aerial platform. “That makes it very easy to set up and deploy.”
Burlington Senior Firefighter Aaron Collette is one of the drivers assigned to the unit and handles getting it to the scene safely. He was also on the committee that developed its specifications and helped take it to bid.
“It helps a lot that it’s a mid-mount,” Collette says. “With a rear-mount, you have a large overhang in the front. I think a mid-mount is a lot easier to position too.”
Paul Stephenson, E-ONE’s aerial product manager, says the HP95, which was introduced at the International Chief’s Association show in 2001, represents the latest generation of aerials for the company.
“It represents the integration of customer demand and product performance in an easy to use and efficient package,” Stephenson says. “Giving the customers what they want has always been our foundation.”
Stephenson points out that the HP stands for “high performance” and the HP95 is that and more because of a number of E-ONE exclusive features, including the apparatus’ stabilizing system which includes four leveling jacks and two outriggers.
One of the most unique features of the HP95 is its hydraulic stabilizing system which is optimized for performance, according to Stephenson.
It consists of a set of under slung “criss-cross” style stabilizers with a jack spread of 15 feet six inches, and four leveling stabilizers which deploy from under the apparatus.
The tethered, handheld stabilizer controls are located behind the cab, just left of the set of under slung jacks and Burlington put a second set at the rear of the apparatus. One must be disabled, by the flip of a switch, before the other will work. The concept of the tethered devices is to allow the operator easy visibility of the scene while deploying the jacks.
And, the feature that Lt. Francis likes best is found in that handheld control, the automatic leveling system that deploys all four leveling stabilizers with the push of one button. The computerized system senses the ground and levels the truck, automatically.
When operations are complete, the stabilizers can be fully stowed, again with the push of one button.
The under slung outrigger jacks is an exclusive design for E-ONE, according to Stephenson who mentioned that other aerial builders are beginning to incorporate similar features into their aerial designs.
Low Center Of Gravity
“Because we keep all the heavy things down low, like the frame and the torque box, and the lighter things up high, like the aluminum ladder, we don’t need a jack spread as wide as some others,” Stephenson says.
And because they are low, the jacks can often be deployed under or around obstructions, he says. The low, tight to the ground jacks also means there’s space available above the jacks for compartments and equipment, he points out.
Collette and Francis are big fans of the narrow jacking profile the aerial affords. The low slung jacking system, with crane-like straight piston jacks under the aerial makes it very stable with a compact jack spread.
“We have a saying that if you can open both front doors, fully, you can set the jacks,” Collette says.
The firefighters in Burlington have found a quick and easy way to figure out where to put jacking plates as well.
“Put your back against the side and take one stride forward and you’ll be right where the jack will land,” Francis says.
Pulling a handheld control from a compartment right below the mid-mount turntable, Collette starts the process of deploying the aerial. In less than a minute, all the jacks are out, in place and the aerial is ready to use.
During the set up process, the aerial leveled itself, compensating for the uneven surface in a parking lot at a boat launch for Lake Champlain at the city’s shorefront.
As the jacks deploy, the front wheels lift off the ground slightly to make sure the turntable is perfectly level.
Francis remembers the old aerial which hasn’t been gone that long, and the effort it took to get the ladder in the air.
“It took two of us all we had to get the aerial up,” Francis says, noting that one person can get the aerial ready for use without breaking a sweat.
Stephenson says the HP95 stabilization system represents the latest technology, discerned from years of experience in aerials. The self-leveling system is controlled by clinometers that measure the pitch and grade of the apparatus, automatically deploying the four straight down jacks to level the turntable. The apparatus can be setup on surfaces with up to a nine percent grade with full rated loads, according to E-ONE.
The system even increases engine idle speed automatically to assist with the hydraulic deployment, Stephenson says.
Another timesaving feature is the elimination of jack pins, according to Stephenson. Because E-ONE specifies a high-quality hydraulic cylinder, pins are not required.
“We have no outrigger pins so there’s no chance of damage from forgetting to pull the pins,” he says, commenting that some other aerials suffer thousands of dollars damage because the operator forgets to pull the safety pins before stowing the jacks.
Another advantage of the jacking system, new for the HP95 series, is a design that keeps the hydraulic cylinders, connections and lines protected in the jack tube and the stabilizing cylinders contained within the body of the apparatus, keeping them protected from the elements and road hazards.
A Four Unit Bid
Burlington Fire Chief Michael O’Neil says the HP95 platform his city bought was part of a four unit bid that carried a price tag of $2,060,000. The bid, which was handled by Desorcie Emergency Products, St. Albans, Vt., included two engines, a HP75 quint and the HP95 platform, which was the biggest ticket item in the bid.
The 10-person apparatus committee worked with a variety of manufacturers on the specifications before settling on E-ONE to build the apparatus.
“We accepted proposals from several different companies,” says O’Neil, who added that it was largely the committee’s decision on what was finally selected. “For us, service and reputation for good service was more important than cost.”
After some initial “adjustments” with the apparatus, which were promptly addressed, O’Neil says he is satisfied with the performance of not only the 95-foot platform, but all the apparatus.
“They worked very hard to take care of all the issues we had and, I have to hand it to them, they did everything we asked and took care of everything,” O’Neil says, noting that taking delivery of four apparatus at once meant dealing with a lot of little issues in a compressed period of time.
One of the biggest hurdles the department had to overcome was the idea that the aerials offered by E-ONE are aluminum. The department had been an all-steel aerial department for generations.
“It took a lot convincing to get us to go with aluminum,” O’Neil says. “We had a lot of meetings and had a lot of discussions.” He still has a cross-section cutaway piece of an E-ONE aerial in his office, a remnant of that discussion.
In the final analysis, O’Neil says it makes sense the city selected the lighter weight aluminum.
“Like many communities in Vermont, our roads are getting kind of beat up and they’re a little rough,” O’Neil says. “The aluminum ladders means that the apparatus aren’t pounding over the road the way the steel aerial did.” In the long term, O’Neil hopes that means less wear and tear on the running gear and suspension of the apparatus, not to mention the aerial itself. Burlington answers about 5,500 calls annually and its HP95 responds on about 1,000 of those calls, so it sees a lot of service.
Stephenson says E-ONE is a member of the senior class when it comes to aluminum ladders, with the company’s first extruded aluminum ladder offered in the early 80s.
“That may not seem like a long time, but when you consider how many other competitors out there are just now beginning aerial programs, we have an excellent track record,” he says, adding that E-ONE has more than 2,000 aerials in service today.
Aluminum is an advanced metal that has the unique properties of being lightweight and having high strength value, Stephenson says. The HP series of aerials use what E-ONE calls a Diamond Extrusion, an efficient and strong shape that permits a lighter weight aerial without sacrificing strength.
According to Stephenson, the HP95 aerial has a 2.5 to 1 structural safety factor and a total National Fire Protection Association rated weight capacity of 1,305 pounds, consisting of 1,000 pounds dedicated to personnel and 305 pounds of equipment.
The HP95 is rated at 500 pounds while flowing water in a full 180 degree sweep with an additional 305 pounds for equipment.
Stephenson says that because E-ONE makes aerials from the ground up to the tip of the ladder, every component works in harmony and is integrated into the overall design. For instance, the torque box of the HP95 is actually part of the apparatus frame.
Some apparatus builders buy a cab and chassis, buy an aerial device, and then build a body around it, trying to make all the components work together. E-ONE’s aerials are designed as a complete unit from start to finish so innovation is inherent in the design.
As sales of the HP95 take off, with customers like Burlington, E-ONE is confident with its design and product performance, Stephenson says. Yet, he says E-ONE has some new products and new designs “in the pipeline” to further expand the product line.
“There is no such thing as a perfect truck, but we listened very carefully in many customer meetings to understand the features desired before putting together a special mix of performance in the right package,” Stephenson says. “That’s what we think we’ve got with the HP95.”
For information call 352-237-1122 or go to www.e-one.com.