Telescoping, Articulating Boom Aerials Prove Flexible for Many Scenarios

Rosenbauer's T-Rex
(1) Rosenbauer’s T-Rex has a three-piece main boom, 97 feet long, and an 18-foot-long articulated jib boom that allows the aerial to work 18 feet below grade. (Photo courtesy of Rosenbauer.)
Rosenbauer's T-Rex
(2) The Rosenbauer T-Rex platform has a 1,400-pound capacity and can swivel 48 degrees left and right of the jib boom. (Photo courtesy of Rosenbauer.)
Bronto Skylift
(3) Pierce Manufacturing is the exclusive distributor in North America for the Bronto Skylift and is able to install it on four of its chassis models. The Bronto Skylift is available in 100-, 116-, 138-, and 168-foot lengths. The Bronto is shown here working off a highway overpass. (Photo courtesy of Pierce Manufacturing.)
Bronto Skylift
(4) Pierce Manufacturing’s Bronto Skylift, with its articulating boom, can go up and over parapets to reach a roof. (Photo courtesy of Pierce Manufacturing.)
Snozzle telescoping boom aerial
(5) Oshkosh makes the Snozzle telescoping boom aerial in midship-mounted 50- and 65-foot models. The 65-footer can carry two monitors, as well as a piercing nozzle. The Snozzle is an exclusive product of Oshkosh and Pierce Manufacturing. (Photo courtesy of Pierce Manufacturing.)

Several fire apparatus manufacturers make aerial devices that have both rescue and waterway applications similar to their straight aerial ladder and aerial platform brethren, yet have a distinctive profile and unusual abilities not found in typical aerials. These are the telescoping and articulating boom aerials, a breed of aerial that’s designed for quick setup, working in narrow and confined spaces, getting up and over obstacles, and working below grade.

Examples of telescoping and articulating boom aerials are the T-Rex, made by Rosenbauer; the Snozzle, by Oshkosh Corp.; and the Bronto Skylift, made exclusively for Pierce Manufacturing Inc.

Working Below Grade

Rosenbauer’s T-Rex is a rear-mount articulating platform that stows behind the chassis cab so there’s no front or rear overhang of the platform, allowing greater maneuverability and letting the 228-inch wheelbase aerial get in and out of tight spaces, says Todd McBride, Rosenbauer’s apparatus specialist. The T-Rex carries a three-piece main boom that’s 97 feet long and an articulated jib boom 18 feet long. “There are several advantages of working with an articulating boom aerial platform,” McBride says, “and the main one is you can go up and over a roofline or parapet while still keeping the firefighters on the platform instead of having them dismount onto the roof or ladders.”

Another advantage to the T-Rex, he says, is its below grade aspect, allowing the aerial to work 18 feet below grade. In addition, the T-Rex can put its boom in a straight down attitude. “If a department has to operate off a bridge, the operator can put the boom in a ‘V’ configuration and can almost get under the bridge for a below-grade rescue,” McBride points out.

The T-Rex has a 1,400-pound capacity, which means its platform can carry five firefighters at 1,250 pounds and 150 pounds of equipment, according to McBride. The T-Rex has a 93-foot horizontal reach at 1,400-pound capacity but can go out to a 102-foot horizontal reach if its capacity is reduced to 500 pounds. Also, the platform itself can swivel 48 degrees left and right of the jib boom, an ability McBride says is handy if the operator needs to get up and around the corner of a building or to alight the platform with a window.

“It’s a completely automatic ladder, so it always knows its capacity and whether or not the outriggers are fully extended,” McBride says. “It uses real-time load monitoring so it will not allow itself to operate overloaded. The aerial is always monitoring the platform load and outrigger positions.”

McBride says the T-Rex also can be used as a crane, able to lift 8,800 pounds from the base section and up to 4,400 pounds from the fly section, depending on the extension of the fly boom. Its waterway can flow up to 1,500 gallons per minute (gpm) and the T-Rex is equipped with a Hale 8FG 2,000-gpm pump and a foam system, a 300-gallon water tank, and a full complement of ground ladders.

T-Rex features a target control system that allows the operator to move the aerial from the ground to the target roof or window, dodging trees and streetlights along the way. Using a joystick, the operator can use an auto return function to bring the platform back to the ground along the same path as the outbound one, then use the target control system to send the platform back along the same path up to the target, instead of having to manually navigate around the obstacles a second or third time.

One Operator, Multiple Fire Attacks

Troy Padgett, Oshkosh’s product director for the Snozzle, says the Snozzle fits into a particular market for articulating boom apparatus, allowing firefighters to quickly switch from an offensive attack on a fire to a defensive one if necessary.

The Snozzle is available in midship-mounted 50- and 65-foot models, both radio-controlled so the operator doesn’t have to be on the lower control platform to operate the aerial. It can be mounted on single-axle pumpers, and its two sections fold to the rear and then forward over the cab so there’s no overhang.

Padgett says both Snozzle models allow for options like color digital and heat identifying forward looking infrared (FLIR) cameras to be mounted at the tip, as well as high-powered LED lights.

The Snozzle can carry a piercing nozzle that folds back along the boom when not in use and will flow up to 300 gpm. “The piercing nozzle is a 48-inch-long aluminum tube with a two-piece nozzle assembly,” Padgett says. “There’s a two-inch-long hardened steel tip, and behind that is the nozzle assembly, which is drilled on a tapered steel shaft in such a way that the first holes the water reaches are drilled toward the rear and then they gradually angle forward, creating a ball of water 20 feet around the sides and forward of the nozzle.”

Both models are available with a 1,250-gpm nozzle, in addition to the piercing nozzle. But, on the 65-foot Snozzle model, Oshkosh offers the option of installing a second nozzle. In such a case, a nozzle above the midpoint of the boom at about the 50-foot level would flow up to 1,500 gpm, while a second nozzle at the tip would flow 500 gpm. “Customers have the option to put any brand, flow size, or pattern shape nozzle on the Snozzle that they wish,” Padgett points out. “But we find that almost all our customers choose to have a piercing nozzle.”

Padgett notes, “The Snozzle is a really good device to use on buildings that are close together or near the street where a straight stick aerial device might have more difficulty setting up and operating. Because the articulating boom is usually up close to the building when fighting a fire, it’s beneficial to using the piercing nozzle.”

Padgett also observes that with a two-nozzle setup, an operator could use the two nozzles for exposure control, to work multiple locations of a fire, or to attack a fire from both high and low. “The two nozzles allow two separate operations to be conducted with one operator,” he says.

Padgett notes that the Snozzle currently is an exclusive product to Oshkosh and Pierce, both domestically and internationally.

Articulating Cage

Tim Smits, Pierce’s senior manager for national sales and product support, says Pierce has an exclusive distribution and supply agreement to market and support the Bronto Skylift line of aerial platform devices throughout North America. “This includes the 168-foot RLP, the tallest aerial platform in North America, as well as the 100-, 116-, and 138-foot Skylifts,” Smits says. “We’ll install the products on our Arrow XT, Impel, Quantum, and Velocity custom chassis.”

The Bronto Skylift line features enhanced up-and-over and below-grade reach to enable effective rescues in a wide range of scenarios, Smits observes. The Bronto also has a telescopic cage boom that provides a large rescue platform for firefighters, as well as a side egress ladder mounted onto the side of the boom to allow continuous egress.

Smits says the Bronto has a 1,400-pound dry tip load and a 1,150-pound tip load when flowing water. The four-inch stainless steel waterway will allow a flow of 1,250 gpm and can satisfy either a single- or dual-monitor setup. “The booms are made of 90,000-pound-per-square-inch (psi) steel and the articulating arm has a 172-degree range both up and down,” Smits points out. “The structural safety factor on the Bronto is 2.5:1, it has a 31-mile-per-hour (mph) wind load rating, up to a quarter-inch ice load rating, and 22-inch ground penetration stabilizers. All the stabilizers can be deployed and set up in 40 seconds or less automatically by a computerized control system.”

Smits adds that the Bronto models have collision avoidance built into each unit so the aerial can’t hit the vehicle’s cab or body; envelope control, to keep the aerial in a safe zone of operation; and an auto stow feature.

“The Bronto lends itself well to a river rescue or other below-grade rescue,” Smits says. “An operator can articulate the basket down, and the basket can pivot 50 degrees left or right. The articulating arm also allows the operator to get around obstacles like power lines, trees, and parapets on the fireground.”

Smits says a fire department recently used a Bronto on a fire scene where the building roof caved in. “The department was able to get over the top, articulate down into the building, and knock down the fire with a straight bore tip,” he says. “There’s so much versatility because of the articulating arm.”

Smits says the most popular size Bronto thus far has been the 116-footer, which has a maximum horizontal reach of 88 feet. The 138-footer, he adds, recently got a redesign, which improved its horizontal reach to 93 feet.

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based freelance writer and is 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.

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