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The Ferrara Multi Vocational Pumper (MVP) has 460 cubic 
feet of compartment space to accommodate a range of 
service delivery requests.


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The Crimson First Response All Calls (FRAC) modular unit on 
display at FRI used stunning graphics to showcase its potential.       
(Fire Apparatus Photo)

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Braun’s Patriot is an ambulance with fire suppression capabilities.

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The Pierce Changeable Response Unit (C.R.U.) with a 
Tempest blower module on the floor in front of the truck. 
(Fire Apparatus Photo by Robert Tutterow)

The 2009 Fire-Rescue International – the annual conference and expo of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) – did not disappoint, as there were several new products and upgrades to existing products. Attendance at the show in Dallas this year was more than most expected, despite a down economy with minimal funds for travel. 

As for apparatus, at least four manufacturers exhibited multi-functional units. This is a theme that appears to be gaining momentum. (See article in the June issue, “A Watershed Year For Do-It-All Vehicles.”)  Three of the four manufacturers were displaying downsized multi-tasking units. The idea is to do more with less. 

Pierce Manufacturing introduced what it calls a Changeable Response Unit (C.R.U.). The concept stems from the popular European platforms on demand (POD) concept. The principle behind the C.R.U. is a primary mover, i.e. one truck that can load and off-load containers or platforms equipped for mission specific responses.

The primary mover is equipped with a hydraulic hook-lift loader to grab the needed unit, pull it onto the truck and respond. Loading is accomplished in 35 seconds and unloading in 40 seconds. The controls are remote, allowing the driver/operator to leave the driver’s seat and have full visibility of where the unit is being placed during unloading. One of the featured units on display was a ventilation module with a Tempest MVU-125. The Tempest unit can deliver almost 132,000 cfm with wind speeds of 110 mph. 

Where the European concept uses medium to heavy-duty trucks as the primary mover, the Pierce approach is a scaled down version with a pickup truck as the primary mover. If your application does not require a huge platform or box, this approach provides a very viable alternative to trailers. Though trailers are very popular, consider their problems:
• They are not very maneuverable.
• They require license plates.
• They require (but seldom receive) maintenance.
• Tires must be kept properly inflated, and there are various other issues with hitches, electrical connections, braking, visibility, driver training and backing – always problematic.

If you are considering a C.R.U., please be mindful of potential center of gravity issues. A dual wheel pick-up might be a consideration for increased stability. 

Examples of C.R.U. units include: brush fire, generator set, ice rescue, USAR, hazmat, ladder tender, refueling, lighting, foam, ventilation, scene safety, first responder, fire investigation, EMS/mass casualty support, rehab, breathing air, ATV/snowmobile/golf cart; transport, RIT; roadway incident safety, water rescue, overhaul support, and bulk transport.

The possible applications are only limited by the imagination.

Crimson Fire showcased its First Response All Calls (FRAC) design at the show. The idea, introduced last year as a concept vehicle, is a modular design on a smaller chassis that can provide capabilities around two of four service needs: fire suppression, patient transport, rescue, and command. Fire departments are struggling to maintain their budgets despite higher apparatus costs, higher fuel costs, few volunteers and tighter regulations.

To meet this challenge, the FRAC offers the capability to meet probably 90 percent of all service requests. Strikingly, the cost of the unit varies from $185,000 to $220,000 – about half the cost of a full-size custom pumper. The fire department selects two of four available modules to be combined on the unit to meet its particular needs. The apparatus is highly maneuverable and offers considerably better fuel efficiency.  The unit on display was mounted on a Ford F-650 chassis. 

The FRAC fire suppression module features multiple CAFS and foam options, removable crosslays, pump-and-roll capability, over 200 cubic feet of compartment space, up to 300 gallons of water and pumping capabilities of up to 1,250 gpm. 

Modular Design

The patient transport module is advertised to provide fully functional BLS or ALS ambulance capability as well as an area for rehab or a RIT team.  The unit on display featured a side loading patient compartment. However, a Crimson representative indicated the next unit will have a rear loading patient compartment. 

The rescue module is touted for its highly maneuverable/rapid response capabilities. It features over 300 cubic feet of compartment space for breathing air systems, hydraulic tool systems, multiple generator options and other rescue tools and equipment.

The command module is offered as a secure, centralized, climate controlled environment for incident commanders. The module features functional workstations and multiple cabinet options.

One of the benefits to this modular design is that it meets a variety of needs.  Since it can be used as the primary response vehicle on probably 90 percent of all service requests, it can be a very affordable and functional back-up pumper and ambulance. 

The Patriot And The MVP

Braun displayed its Patriot unit, which includes limited firefighting capabilities as well as full ambulance capabilities. In addition to patient transport capabilities, the unit included a 250-gallon water tank, a 10-gallon foam cell, CAFS, a one-inch booster reel and limited compartment space. Interestingly, the pump was touted as meeting National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1906 (wildland) requirements rather than NFPA 1901 requirements. The unit was displayed on a Spartan Furion chassis. The Furion appears to be an excellent choice for those who want a custom chassis and improved maneuverability, but at a price a bit closer to that of a commercial chassis. The displayed Patriot had a 30,660 GVWR and a 27.5-foot curb-to-curb turning radius.

Ferrara had many units on display and featured its new multi-vocational pumper (MVP) model. As with the previous three units described, this was designed with multiple service delivery requirements in mind. However, this unit was on a full-size heavy-duty rig, and it did not have patient transport capabilities.

The MVP is designed primarily as a rescue pumper, but with a whopping 460 cubic feet of compartment space, it can also provide hazmat and other functions.  An important safety feature of the truck is the low hose bed. The crosslays are mounted under the cab at frame rail height. The 183-inch wheelbase truck can accommodate up to a 2,250-gpm pump and 1,000-gallon water tank. Pump-and-roll capability is also available. The MVP is available in either aluminum or stainless steel and also on all the Ferrara custom chassis.

Only time will tell if the multi-functional units will catch on. Is this the beginning of a trend or simply an output of an economy in recession? As we begrudgingly must admit, most fire departments have evolved as emergency response agencies to various types of emergencies. Occasionally the emergencies require fighting a fire. Does our rolling stock really match our current mission?

Editor’s Note: Robert Tutterow, who has 30 years in the fire service, is the Charlotte (N.C.) Fire Department health and safety officer. He is a member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Fire Department Apparatus Committee and is on two other NFPA committees, the Structural and Proximity Firefighting Protective Ensemble Technical Committee and the Technical Correlating Committee for Fire and Emergency Services PPE.


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