|New Haven, Conn., has an all-white Seagrave tractor-drawn aerial in service. Of all the current aerial builders, it’s fair to say Seagrave has the most TDA’s in service.|
|Montevallo, Ala., received this Crimson Fire rear-mounted aerial platform built on a Spartan Motors cab and chassis. (Crimson Fire Photo)|
|The compact design of this 80-foot High-Tech Metz aerial ladder qualifies it specifically for narrow places and difficult traffic situations. It can be built on a single-axle chassis with an extremely short wheelbase and an overall length of only 28-feet. (Metz Photo)|
|The Columbia (Mo.) Fire Department recently took delivery of a 65-foot dual nozzle Crash Rescue Snozzle. (Crash Rescue Photo)|
|This mid-mount Snozzle is shown in action at a fire in Central Mat-Su, Alaska. The unique design of the pedestal facilitates mounting the unit above the pump area. (Crash Rescue Photo)|
|San Diego, Calif., purchased a Crimson Fire tractor-drawn aerial. Note the special lifting cradle design at the turntable and the hydraulic jacks just behind the tractor duals. (Crimson Fire Photo)|
|Since introducing the Rear Admiral in the late 1960s, Seagrave has produced over 1,000 single and tandem axle rear-mounted aerial ladders like the one in service in Franklin Park, Ill. (Seagrave Photo)|
|Crash trucks are often equipped with a large tank, Snozzle and a piercing nozzle.|
|Mount Vernon, N.Y., has a 95-foot Aerialscope. Its design is close to those units supplied to FDNY. Note the jacks on the front bumper. (Seagrave Photo)|
|Arlington, Texas, bought a 100-foot Crimson Fire rear-mount aerial. Its striped bumper makes the unit standout on the highway. (Crimson Fire Photo)|
There are major changes due for apparatus this year that include modifications required to accommodate the tightened emissions standards for the 2007 engines. Hotter exhaust temperatures, increased cooling and more room required under the hood are just a few of the ramifications.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1901 standard is under revision, and safety upgrades are under consideration.
The recent increase of apparatus at vehicle accidents could result in increased requirements for striping at the rear of our vehicles. It also would be logical to have a traffic safety vest for each seated position as well as a set of six or more traffic cones to assist in directing traffic flow.
If you have any other suggestions, especially safety related, send them to Carl Peterson – email@example.com. Peterson is the NFPA staff liaison to the 1901 committee. You may also send your ideas to me through this magazine by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, we will review aerials by Seagrave, RK Aerials, Crimson Fire and Snozzle.
Let us look at Seagrave first. Sometime after the Civil War, Frederick S. Seagrave opened his company in Detroit. It moved to Columbus, Ohio, in 1891 and then, after being purchased by FWD Corporation, apparatus production was relocated to Clintonville, Wis., in 1963.
The company has an interesting history of aerial ladder developments. In 1881, the company was issued the first patent for truss ladders. In 1902, Seagrave introduced a spring-loaded raising mechanism and, in 1908, it began offering a tractor-trailer aerial apparatus powered by a whopping (for its time) 90 hp engine.
The innovation continued in 1911, with the company’s first straight frame aerial and in 1917, it introduced a non-articulated, rear-mounted water tower. Seagrave produced wood aerial ladders until 1955, when they completed an order for 25 units for FDNY.
Today, Seagrave offers a full range of steel aerials and the Aerialscope midmount aerial platform, acquired from Baker. These are all are produced in the Clintonville plant. Its rear-mounted aerial platforms are currently supplied by R.K. Aerials of Fremont, Neb.
Seagrave’s ladder construction design uses an “I-beam type” base rail with its two sides formed in special tooling and then welded together in fixtures. The inside walls are coated to prevent corrosion and “K” bracing is now standard.
Other features on newer units are Teflon-coated, easily replaceable wear strips and Polygon greaseless bearings.
Seagrave produces the chassis and aerial as well as a full line of pumpers and other miscellaneous units.
Next up is R.K. Aerials, a company founded in Fremont, Neb., in 1988, by Rob Kreikemeier with a contract with Maxim Fire Apparatus to produce six 109-foot aerial ladders per year for three consecutive years. After delivery of the second unit, Maxim went bankrupt and the company was left without an aerial customer.
At the time, the business survived by subcontracting metal fabrication to Nebraska area industries and by producing aerials for a few apparatus builders.
In the 1990s, it expanded its aerial sales relationships and, today the company is producing aerials for 14 different fire apparatus manufacturers and employing 80 workers.
In January 2000, Rosenbauer America joined with R.K. Manufacturing, becoming R.K. Aerials. LLC.
R.K.’s latest building and office expansion added 37,000 square feet, for a total of 77,000 square feet.
The company started producing platforms in 1996, and today they have five different mid- and rear-mount platform sizes. R.K. has developed seven different aerials that range from 50 to 109 feet. In 2006, R.K. introduced its 68-foot “Roadrunner,” a Telescopic water tower.
R.K. is the only aerial manufacturer offering hot-dipped galvanized aerials, providing the customer with a virtually maintenance-free aerial. According to Mr. Kreikemeier, a galvanized aerial will out last the life of a chassis, which offers the user the ability to transfer the aerial from one chassis to another.
Other options include a Smart aerial control system that prevents unsafe operation when operating in a short jack position, and Soft Touch electronic over hydraulic controls for smoother operations in tight quarters.
An optional remote control allows an operator to control the ladder movements up to 300 feet away.
Let us take a look at Crimson Fire, a company formed when Spartan Motors bought two long-time apparatus builders and combined them under one name.
One company was Luverne Fire Apparatus, opened in 1911, in Minnesota, producing its first truck in 1912. The other business was Quality Manufacturing, located in Talladega, Ala. Spartan Motors bought the two truck builders after Freightliner bought a group of independent builders in 1997. The two businesses were combined under one name, Crimson Fire, in 2003.
In June that same year, long-time LTI employees and aerial ladder experts, Jim Salmi and Reid Wissler, were hired to develop Crimson’s aerial ladder line. Production of the first unit started in Crimson’s Pennsylvania aerial plant in October 2003, and the unit was introduced at the 2004 Fire Department Instructors’ Conference Show in Indianapolis.
Crimson’s aerials feature “X-style” outriggers, an auto-leveling system, an innovative specialized ladder lift cradle and a unique ladder roller system that allows easy maintenance.
The current line includes tractor-drawn aerial ladders, aerial platforms and straight ladders offered exclusively through the Crimson apparatus dealers.
Another aerial to review is Snozzle, a 50-foot lightweight, elevated water tower, invented by Ed Garnett, who also designed the Baker Aerialscope and an American LaFrance 75-foot ladder. Boardman Fire in Oklahoma City was the first to offer the Snozzle to the fire service.
In 1991, Bob Relies of Crash Rescue Equipment Service of Dallas, Texas, purchased the patents and manufacturing rights to build the Snozzle and moved all production to Dallas.
In the 1990s, Crash Rescue added new features such as a piercing nozzle, a TV camera and electronic remote controls. Initially, they were aggressively marketing the unit to crash truck purchasers. Only 10 percent of production was sold to the municipal fire service during this time period.
In 2005, a 65-foot version of the Snozzle, with dual nozzle capabilities was introduced. Production is now split almost 50-50 between crash trucks and municipal pumpers. Over 350 units have been produced since Crash Rescue acquired the product.
There are two other aerial devices currently marketed in the USA. The Bronto (owned by E-ONE and made in Finland) is an articulating boom device with heights from 50 to 300 feet. Bronto’s are sold all over the world through a range of apparatus builders. E-ONE is the exclusive dealer for US and Canadian sales.
Rosenbauer of Linz, Austria, purchased the German Metz ladder company several years ago. Metz ladders are generally lighter than U.S.-made ladders as they are used primarily for rescue in Europe.
Metz has an excellent electronic control system, a sit down control station and, because the units do not carry all the equipment typically seen on U.S. ladder trucks, it is not uncommon to see an 80-foot ladder on a short wheelbase, single-axle chassis.
With that, we wrap up our series on aerial devices sold in the USA. Overall, there is something for everyone depending on your needs, budget and operating requirements.
Before you purchase your next aerial, take the time to research the features of each builder and then decide what is best for your department.
Remember, one size does not fit all!