WFC News

Posted: May 5, 2014

Product News

Mohawk's four-post lifts for fire apparatus repairs range in capacity from 19,000 to 75,000 pounds and can accommodate all fire trucks and other emergency vehicles. The four-post design provides full under-vehicle access with no obstructions and features direct-drive lifting cylinders at each post, which means no cables to stretch. Mohawk's four-post lifts are available with rolling "wheels-free" jacks to raise the tires off the tracks for tire and axle service., 800-833-2006

Scott Safety Air-Pak X3 SCBA and Air-Pak 75 SCBA have received National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1981, Standard on Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) for Emergency Services (2013 ed.), and NFPA 1982, Standard on Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS) (2013 ed.), approvals and will begin shipping immediately. The Air-Pak X3 features a user-friendly sweep gauge with an external HUD to provide air status to other team members. The Air-Pak 75 (AP 75) offers redundancy of safety features, ease of use, and low cost of ownership., 704-291-8300

POWER HAWK Technologies Inc. C-1604 Shredder rescue tool slices through the high-strength construction materials that are used in today's new cars and trucks. The Shredder cutter is a plug-and-play add-on to the POWER HAWK® P-16 Rescue System, a patented battery-powered and gear-driven (nonhydraulic) rescue tool that provides interchangeable spreader and cutter attachments. The C-1604 Shredder was developed to handle the increasing challenges rescue personnel face during vehicle extrications because of new car designs and the tougher materials used that provide greater protection to its passengers in a crash. The Shredder attaches to the P-16 Rescue Tool in seconds., 800-PWR-HAWK

Streamlight® Inc. industrial-duty, high-lumen portable scene light enables fire and rescue personnel to use it almost anywhere for scene lighting purposes-from wide, open places to tight, confined work areas. The light uses six C4® LEDs and wide-pattern parabolic reflectors to provide two selectable beam widths and three levels of light intensity ranging from a super-bright flood beam to a low setting with ultra-long run times. The light features a rotating head that can be extended on a telescoping pole to an overall height of 72 inches. The light also features a 90-degree swivel neck. On the high setting, the light delivers 3,600 lumens, 31,000 candela, and a five-hour run time over a beam distance of 352 meters. On medium, it provides 2,400 lumens, 20,000 candela, nine hours of run time, and a beam distance of 283 meters. On low, the light runs for 18 hours and offers 1,100 lumens, 11,000 candela, and a beam distance of 210 meters., 800-523-7488

Cutters Edge and TheFireStore Vent Boss rescue saw is reliable, fast, and tough so

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Posted: May 5, 2014

Redundancy in Water Delivery

Richard Marinucci

As I write this, many parts of the country are finishing one of the most severe winter weather seasons in many years. There has been extreme cold and a lot of snow.

This has created operational challenges for many fire departments. In some cases, fire hydrants have been covered with snow and the cold weather has made other hydrants inoperable because of freezing. Of course, some folks think there is a simple solution-just dig out all the hydrants and test the hydrants regularly. If it was only that simple!

The point of this article is not to discuss the specific challenges of weather extremes but the need for redundancy in water delivery should the first option fail. As an example, a few years ago an entire water system went down during the summer months because of a power failure. Obviously, many departments were scrambling to come up with an alternate water source.

Have a Backup

Departments should have choices if the first option doesn't work, regardless of why there is a failure. In areas served by fire hydrants, this could be as simple as knowing all the options available for hydrant selection. There should be a procedure that calls for responding units to take alternate routes to approach the scene from different directions. This would generally allow for multiple choices and a backup plan should the first hydrant fail for some reason. This seems so simple and logical that you might wonder why you would even need to tell anyone that this should be a standard operation. But there are some considerations, including organizational discipline, for responding appropriately on each call. Occasionally departments become complacent and don't always remember their basics, especially if a department, a specific station, or even a shift doesn't respond to many structure fires.

There is more to preparation than just driving a different route to the scene. Those who arrive first must leave space if they need subsequent responding units' water supplies. The first-arriving crews also need to be efficient and able to determine early whether or not their first water supply option will work. Departments that are prepared for the second or even third option can transition smoothly. And, very often the public will not even know there was a problem. On the flip side, if you put all your eggs in one basket, everyone will know there was a problem. Not only will this negatively impact your suppression efforts, it could create a political issue long after the fire has been extinguished.

The most important reason for a smooth transition is relative to firefighter safety. Many departments initiate operations with tank water and rely on establishing a water supply from the fire hydrant quickly so that it is seamless for the operation. Firefighters initiate interior attacks, and as long as the continuous water supply is established before the tank water is depleted, there is no issue. However if there is any significant delay, it could place interior units in peril and expose them to additional risk.

Staffing Impact

Redundancy is easier with adequate staffing by dispatching enough units on the first alarm. This can be challenging for many departments that have seen reductions in these areas in the past few years. In this time, the perceived success of many departments may have led to complacency or overconfidence. They have not had any fire hydrant issues or difficulties supplying water. They, and too often those that fund the department, look at this as an opportunity to reduce costs through less staffing and apparatus. Like so much of what occurs in the emergency business, it isn't a problem until something unusual occurs. Then someone is asked to explain.

There are other options to help with creating backup plans. Some areas have access to tanker trucks or water tenders-different terms for the same thing, depending

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Posted: May 5, 2014

Forward-Looking Radar, 360-Degree Cameras Help Prevent Collisions

By Alan M. Petrillo

The safety of firefighters inside fire apparatus when traveling to and from an incident is of paramount importance to all fire apparatus manufacturers, no matter what type of vehicle they are constructing.

Strong structural members, air bags, electronic stability control, occupant detection systems, and other components address the safety aspects of a fire vehicle, but other technologies are also taking hold.

OnGuard technology in E-ONE's ProTech safety system uses

The OnGuard technology in E-ONE's ProTech safety system uses
forward-looking radar to monitor traffic and other vehicle speeds
relative to the fire vehicle it is installed on. OnGuard alerts a driver
if it detects a potential impact and can help avert a collision by
applying braking power if necessary. (Photo courtesy of Meritor


One apparatus maker, E-ONE, has developed a protection system that incorporates an additional two technologies new to fire service apparatus-a forward-looking radar that can detect developing rear-end collisions and a 360-degree bird's-eye view camera system that gives an operator situational awareness of his vehicle on the road.


Joe Hedges, E-ONE's product manager for aerials and chassis, says that his company's ProTech system is a comprehensive safety package for all E-ONE chassis. "It starts with the roll cage cab we build that can withstand two times the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) impact requirements and five times the roof load requirements," Hedges says.

OnGuard forward-looking radar unit is shown here mounted in the center of a pumper's front bumper to allow the clearest look of the road ahead

The OnGuard forward-looking radar unit is shown here mounted
in the center of a pumper's front bumper to allow the clearest look
of the road ahead. (Photo courtesy of E-ONE.)


ProTech also includes front and side air bag systems with integrated seat belt pretensioners; electronic stability control that constantly monitors driving conditions; an occupant detection system that gives audible and visual warnings; backup sensors that warn a driver of potential obstacles at the rear of his vehicle; a 360-degree camera system; and OnGuard, the forward-looking radar system.


"We worked with our brake system supplier, Meritor Wabco, to integrate OnGuard into our chassis," Hedges says. "The system has dual zones-one that takes a wide and close look in front of the vehicle and the other up to 600 feet ahead to detect any kind of developing rear-end collision. OnGuard looks at thousands of items ahead of it but tracks in great detail six vehicles as to their speed relative to your speed."

Hedges says that OnGuard bases its calculations on the driver's steering position, the vehicle speed, whether or not brakes are being applied, and what the objects in front of the vehicle are doing. "If OnGuard detects a potential impact, it watches if its driver is doing something about it-for example, steering to avoid. If he is and that path is not clear, OnGuard will intervene. It's constantly watching all elements."

Front and side airbag systems for the driver and officerRead more
Posted: May 5, 2014

Internal or External? That Is the Question

Doug Miller

During the past several years, shrinking budgets have forced many fire departments to reconsider how they do business. Every expenditure is viewed under a microscope to make every dollar count and spend limited funds wisely.

Too many departments have had to delay purchasing much-needed apparatus during this time. This can only be put off for so long as aging apparatus may pile up huge repair bills, not be as safe as they should be, or not be the proper tools for the changing mission of your department. If this sounds like your department, then apparatus replacement should be one of the top line items in your budget. But, will you replace an old, worn out pumper with something that has nearly the same layout?

New Apparatus ConsIderations

Consider many factors for the new pumper, including the following:

  • The vehicle's mission: What has changed since the previous truck was built 10, 20, or more years ago?
  • Cab design: How many firefighters are available to ride the new rig?
  • Overall size: Can a smaller unit be just as effective?
  • Pump capacity rating: How much water is really available now and in the future?
  • Compartment size: How much equipment do we need to take along to cover the various missions?

As needs have changed, apparatus manufacturers have responded with many more options for nearly everything apparatus-related. To get more compartment space to carry all the equipment departments need to take along and to keep the overall size of the rig within reason, some areas in truck design have seen much change. Many new options involve pump location, the pump operator's location, and pump drive options.

Recently the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers' Association (FAMA) Technical Committee's Pump and Plumbing subcommittee embarked on a project to research and report the various pump configurations available today. The results will be published later this year as educational document TC024: FAMA Pump Selection Guide. The report will be available at The goal is to educate, to an awareness level, those responsible for fire apparatus layout and design-i.e., fire truck specification committees and apparatus sales representatives.

As the investigation has evolved, many configurations have been discovered, all with pros and cons. Since space is limited in this article, I have chosen one topic that seems to come up on all pumping apparatus: pump intake valves.

The question is: What is the best choice for your primary pump intake valve when specifying your next apparatus? Let's compare different types of valves used to control water flow into the main (steamer) connections of your pump.

In general, there are two main types of valves: internal and external. The internal valve is an integral component of the pump intake plumbing. The external valve is mounted outside the pump and pump panel. They both perform the same function-controlling incoming water to the pump through one or more of the pump's primary water intakes. Both valve types must have a means to expel air from the hoseline when first charged. This prevents a slug of air from moving through the pump and hoselines to reach the firefighters at the nozzle. Either valve will also incorporate an automatic pressure relief feature to keep unwanted pressure surges in the supply line from impacting the pump, hoselines, and firefighters.

Pros and Cons

Let's look first at internal (integral) intake valves.

Pros include the following:

  • Most can be controlled remotely from the pump operator's po
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Posted: May 5, 2014

Apparatus Purchasing: the Booster Reel

By Bill Adams

What is revered by traditionalists, belittled by progressives, dismissed by many, and misunderstood by most?

It has been around for 140 years and has seen plenty of fire. It has adapted to changes in the fire service, yet its popularity rises and falls like the tide. It's the booster reel. Although this article is specifically directed at today's booster reels carrying 200 feet of one-inch hard rubber hose, the history of the booster reel will allow a better understanding of it.

1957 C85 Mack destined for the FDNY

This factory delivery photo (before graphics) is of a 1957 C85
Mack destined for the FDNY. The rear-facing booster reel became
an FDNY standard for many years. (Photo courtesy of Mack
through Harvey Eckart.)


Chemical Hose and Reels

Flexible rubber hose was made possible by vulcanizing, a chemical process patented in 1844 enabling rubber to be formed into specific shapes and sizes. Also in the mid 1800s, Boston, Massachusetts, pharmaceutical professor James Babcock discovered that mixing sulfuric acid and bicarbonate of soda created a gas that could force water through a hose. The ratio of two pounds of soda and one pound of acid to five gallons of water could generate 200 pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure-enough to "boost" the mixture through the line. Early nozzles did not have shutoffs because the original rubber hose could not withstand the pressures generated. According to fire apparatus historian Walt McCall, Babcock chemical engines with ¾-inch noncollapsible rubber hose were introduced in 1873. Storage reels for the rubber hose followed in the 1880s. The Babcock chemical hose thread (CHT) became and still is today the fire service standard for booster hose.

Akron Brass reel

This Akron Brass reel is floor-mounted in the rear compartment of
a flat-back-design pumper. A roll-up door is provided above the
reel, and a hinged drop-down door serves as a rear step. (Photo
courtesy of Akron Brass.)


Chemical hose and chemical reels were also known and advertised as booster hose and booster reels. McCall elaborates that Seagrave was the first manufacturer to introduce chemical reels on motorized apparatus around 1910. He says that in 1913, Ahrens Fox introduced the first water tank and hose reel used exclusively with plain water and an onboard fire pump. The Cincinnati (OH) Fire Department received 10 1913 Model D Ahrens Fox Booster Cars with reels vertically mounted beneath the driver's seat. A photo of a similar reel installation is in the late John F. Sytsma's book The Ahrens-Fox Album. Don't ask for it today-it's out of print. Eric Hannay of Hannay Reels says, "Vertically oriented reels tend to have a lot of problems over time-weight of the hose collapsing on the bottom disc, the misappropriation of radial bearings in that axis, and so on." Despite the differences between chemical and plain water systems, the booster description became synonymous for both as well as for the water tank itself.

Akron Brass reel

This photo shows a reel mounted high in the upper section of the
rear step compartment on this Spartan ERV pumper. Room is
provided beneath the reel to store loose equipment. (Photo by
Allan Smith.)

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