Safety Design Features Emphasized on New Philadelphia (PA) Fire Department Pumpers

Alan M. Petrillo   Alan M. Petrillo

Firefighter safety in mounting and dismounting apparatus, as well as when pulling hose and accessing equipment, was a major concern for the Philadelphia (PA) Fire Department when it chose a vendor for new pumpers.

Once the department performed its due diligence, it chose Spartan ER (then Spartan ERV) to build two pumpers that got it what it wanted in terms of safety and also performance.

1 Spartan ER delivered two pumpers to the Philadelphia (PA) Fire Department that are built on Spartan Metro Star chassis and cab with a 175-inch wheelbase, an overall length of 31 feet 8 inches, and an overall height of 10 feet 5 inches. (Photos courtesy of Spartan ER unless otherwise noted.)
1 Spartan ER delivered two pumpers to the Philadelphia (PA) Fire Department that are built on Spartan Metro Star chassis and cab with a 175-inch wheelbase, an overall length of 31 feet 8 inches, and an overall height of 10 feet 5 inches. (Photos courtesy of Spartan ER unless otherwise noted.)

Matching Specs to the Real World

Battalion Chief Robert Corrigan says that one of the challenges for Philadelphia in fire apparatus design is that it often is different on paper than it is in real life. “Our office of fleet management writes the specs and starts out with what we got last time and then moves on from there,” Corrigan says. “When these two pumpers came in with flat roofs, after getting firefighter input, we decided we needed more headroom, so we went to 10-inch raised roof models for the next four pumpers on the contract.”

Corrigan notes that the department worked closely with Campbell Supply, which he called “one of the best vendors in the country,” to work through the various safety options that Philadelphia wanted to incorporate in the new pumpers. “We had seen an increase in mounting and dismounting injuries in the department,” he says, “so we aggressively pursued all the safety features available. We went with LED lighted exterior grab rails and a low hosebed to assist with pulling hose because all of our 1¾-inch hoselines deploy from the rear of the pumper so firefighters can do that from the ground instead of the back step. It’s a very popular feature and one that was our first safety request in the design.”

2 The Philadelphia pumpers built by Spartan ER each carry a Waterous CSU 1,500-gpm side-mount pump and a Pro Poly 500-gallon water tank
2 The Philadelphia pumpers built by Spartan ER each carry a Waterous CSU 1,500-gpm side-mount pump and a Pro Poly 500-gallon water tank.

Brian Connely, account manager for Spartan ER, says his company worked closely with Philadelphia and Campbell Supply to get the hosebed as low as practicable. “We went with an L-shaped water tank that allowed the hosebed to be much lower than is typical,” Connely says. “We sent a team of engineers and design people to listen to the challenges they had on previous builds and talk with them about what we could offer. We wanted to stay away from the pitfalls they had encountered in the past and give them the kind of pumpers they needed.”

Connely adds, “If there was a safety item that we offered, Philadelphia wanted it put onto the pumpers. So, we put on the LED handrails, door open indicators, cornering lights and ground lighting for backing up to assist drivers, and optical warning devices.”

3 Each of Philadelphia’s new pumpers carries a 10-kW generator, an FRC LED Spectra brow light, telescoping LED light at the rear, LED traffic warning lights, LED backlit exterior grab rails, and an OPTICOM traffic control system. (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Fire Department
3 Each of Philadelphia’s new pumpers carries a 10-kW generator, an FRC LED Spectra brow light, telescoping LED light at the rear, LED traffic warning lights, LED backlit exterior grab rails, and an OPTICOM traffic control system. (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Fire Department.)

Working Relationship

Chuck Yeoman, vice president of Campbell Supply, says his company’s association with the Philadelphia Fire Department goes back to the mid 1970s “when we were selling them Seagrave pumpers and tractor drawn aerials. In the 1990s, they went to American LaFrance vehicles and got into Spartan ER pumpers in 2008.”

He adds that the delivered pumpers (and the four being built) are on Spartan Metro Star chassis and cabs with full-depth compartments on both sides. Overall length is 31 feet 8 inches, overall height is 10 feet 5 inches, and wheelbase is 175 inches.

4 Officers and firefighters form up alongside one of Philadelphia’s new Spartan ER pumpers. (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Fire Department
4 Officers and firefighters form up alongside one of Philadelphia’s new Spartan ER pumpers. (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Fire Department.)

The pumpers carry Waterous CSU 1,500-gpm pumps and Pro Poly 500-gallon water tanks, have pass-through Stokes and backboard storage compartments, and have 10-kW generators. In addition, each rig has an OPTICOM traffic control system, high-visibility LED traffic warning lights, an FRC LED brow light, two telescoping LED lights at the rear, an electric cord reel, and a winch receiver under the standard six-inch-wide steel front bumper.

Replacement Plan

Corrigan says the fire department has a five-year apparatus plan, with a goal of having every piece of front line apparatus be 10 years old or newer, with reserve apparatus coming in at 15 years old or newer. “Our plan tries to execute that, and we are very satisfied with the pumper design we have now,” Corrigan points out. “We put the two new Spartan ER pumpers in our busiest companies, and they are very happy with the pumpers. Of the four more on order, one is a squad pumper – a rescue-pumper with a 1,500-gpm pump and 500-gallon water tank that has a pedestal style pump to allow for more compartment space.”

5 One of the features required by the Philadelphia Fire Department was a low hosebed to allow firefighters to safely access preconnected hoselines off the rear of the rigs.
5 One of the features required by the Philadelphia Fire Department was a low hosebed to allow firefighters to safely access preconnected hoselines off the rear of the rigs.

Connely notes that Spartan ER worked with Philadelphia to design pumpers that reflect the operating expenses the department wanted to achieve. “We provided a number of access panels where we typically would not have had them for maintenance of door regulators and sending units,” he says, “and added a composite material in the wheel wells so that when a snow chain breaks loose during winter chain use, the wheel well would resist damage.”

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.

6 The two pumpers for Philadelphia each have all roll-up doors, pass-through storage compartments for Paratech struts, and pass-through storage compartments for Stokes baskets and backboards.
6 The two pumpers for Philadelphia each have all roll-up doors, pass-through storage compartments for Paratech struts, and pass-through storage compartments for Stokes baskets and backboards.

specs

Spartan ER Pumpers

  • Spartan Metro Star cabs and chassis
  • Full-depth compartments both sides
  • 175-inch wheelbases
  • 31-foot 8-inch overall lengths
  • 10-foot 5-inch overall heights
  • Side-control pump panels
  • Low hosebeds
  • Roll-up doors
  • Waterous CSU 1,500-gpm pumps
  • Pro Poly 500-gallon water tanks
  • Pass-through Stokes and backboard storage
  • LED backlit exterior grab rails
  • High-visibility LED traffic warning lights
  • OPTICOM traffic control systems
  • 10-kW generators
  • High-visibility LED FRC Spectra brow lights
  • Telescoping LED lights at rear
  • Electric cord reels
  • Winch receivers on front ends
7 The Philadelphia Fire Department chose to outfit its pumpers with standard front bumpers with winch receivers instead of extended front bumpers
7 The Philadelphia Fire Department chose to outfit its pumpers with standard front bumpers with winch receivers instead of extended front bumpers.

department

Philadelphia (PA) Fire Department

Strength: 2,500 firefighters and civilian employees, 63 stations.

Service area: Provides fire protection, rescue, hazmat, specialty rescue, and emergency medical services (EMS) in 146.6 square miles for 1.57 million residents. The department is broken down into field firefighting/emergency forces in two divisions, a fire academy, an aviation operations division, a hazmat administrative unit, a safety office, a special operations command, and an EMS division.

Other apparatus: The department uses approximately 250 pierces of fire apparatus including 57 engines, 27 trucks, 29 medic units, three rescues, two hazmat vehicles, an urban search and rescue (USAR) Pennsylvania Task Force unit, two mass casualty units, a collapse unit, a decon unit, a grass firefighting truck, aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) units, two air units, and three marine units.

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