|By Sam Massa|
A seasoned executive from a leading fire apparatus manufacturer once said, “Fire apparatus are like snowflakes and fingerprints. They are all extremely unique, and even with sister trucks, no two are ever exactly identical.”
These rigs often have more than 100,000 individual components, and many of them are specifically called out by the apparatus spec committee prior to sending out for bid. Good, bad, or otherwise, the apparatus is built to the spec provided. The decisions regarding configuration of the rig ultimately lie in the hands of the spec authors.
Is it realistic to expect that every committee of firefighters tasked with putting together a spec can effectively argue for or against a given component or configuration? Do firefighters understand the legal ramifications of the specifications they write? Without a tremendous amount of time and travel meeting with each component category’s subject matter expert, it’s not likely.
For 30 years this January, the Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA) has been working tirelessly to give apparatus committees and other firefighters a nonbrand-specific forum to ask questions. The goal is to allow the attendees to learn from multiple subject matter experts in one location and delve deep into the topics that come up in a committee meeting and often are difficult to answer without an expert on hand. In partnership with the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers’ Association (FAMA), on January 15-17, 2018, the FDSOA will be hosting fire departments all over North America for the 30th Annual Apparatus Specifications and Maintenance Symposium. The event will be held at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.
This event is the only conference dedicated to providing a better understanding of fire apparatus and ambulances to the emergency services industry. Presentations from leading industry figures, as well as apparatus and equipment manufacturers, provide the attendee with a wide range of factual data. Breakout sessions and networking events provide a forum for sharing personal experiences with peers. Combined, the resources at this event can be used to form a better educated conclusion when writing specs, which ultimately can help keep your crews safe while answering calls for service.
This year’s sessions and speakers include the following: “Legal Issues Regarding Apparatus Design” by Brad Pinsky, attorney and chief; “Our Fire Department’s New Motto: “ ‘Good Enough Is Good Enough’ ” by Gary Briese, executive director of the Colorado State Fire Chiefs; “Apparatus Safety” by Bruce Varner; and “Investigating Apparatus Crashes” by Gordon Routley, chief of the Montreal Fire Department.
FAMA member companies will provide lessons on the following topics:
Aerial Maintenance: Every aerial device requires attention. Although certain tasks are specific to certain makes and models, there are basic maintenance concepts common to all. Attend this session to learn what can happen if you neglect maintenance and what you need to do to keep your device operating safely and efficiently.
Ambulance: The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a standard for reburbishing fire apparatus; now it is time for an ambulance refurbishment standard. Attend this session for a review of the work that both the NFPA and the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services are doing in this regard and how it may affect ambulance remounts in the future.
Apparatus Equipment Weight: Overweight apparatus is an epidemic in the fire services. Attend this session to hear how one department is tackling this issue and get detailed training on how to prevent the issue with your next apparatus purchase.
Apparatus Fluids: Your apparatus requires thorough maintenance, and this starts with the right fluids and lubricants. Attend this session to gain a better understanding of the fluids used to keep your apparatus running well.
Apparatus Incident Risk Assessment: The University of Arizona, in conjunction with the NFPA Research Foundation and several fire departments, has been studying risk mitigation in fire apparatus. Attend this session to learn the results of this industry-leading study.
Corrosion Prevention: Newer methods of deicing roads such as the use of magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride, beet sugar, and others can wreak havoc with our apparatus. Attend this session to learn about ways to combat it.
Foam and Compressed Air Foam Systems (CAFS): As technology advances, the use of foam in the fire service gets simpler. Attend this session to learn about advances in foam and CAFS and controls.
Connected Vehicles/Haas Alert: Robots, self-driving cars – what’s in the future for emergency vehicles? Attend this session for an insight into how some apparatus may digitally interface with the world around them.
Pump Maintenance: Your water pump is the heart of your pumper or aerial apparatus. Attend this session to learn what you should be doing to keep your pump in top shape.
Tires: Apparatus tires have traditionally been specified by the fire department. New Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations may influence tire treads on future apparatus. Attend this session to learn about the EPA regulations, low rolling resistant tires, and the details of tire specification and performance.
Water Monitors: Water monitors, whether used as deck guns or on platforms, provide many benefits on the fire scene. Attend this session to learn about the latest advances in performance, capacity, and control methods of these devices.
Wildland: The wildland urban interface is changing with climate change. Is your fleet prepared for the challenge? Attend this session for a discussion of wildland apparatus and techniques.
For more information about the 30th Fire Apparatus Safety Symposium, brought to you by a partnership between the FDSOA and FAMA, or to register for the event, please visit www.FDSOA.org.
FAMA is committed to the manufacture and sale of safe, efficient emergency response vehicles and equipment. FAMA urges fire departments to evaluate the full range of safety features offered by its member companies.
SAM MASSA is the president and chief technologist for HiViz LED Lighting, a manufacturer of specialty scene lighting equipment with a primary focus on the fire and emergency services market. He is a North Carolina firefighter, an emergency medical technician, and an active participant to the NFPA 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus, technical committee.