WFC News

Posted: Jan 10, 2014

Pennsylvania Department Replaces Two Apparatus with One

Alan M. Petrillo

The Hummelstown (PA) Chemical Fire Co. No. 1 needed to replace an aging pumper but wanted to do so by building a combination vehicle-one that could serve as a first-line pumper as well as a rescue truck. The department found what it needed with Alexis.

"We're an all-volunteer department and sometimes have scarce staffing during the day," says Charlie Cogan, Hummelstown chief. "We had a pumper that needed to be replaced, and our rescue truck runs a lot because it handles a lot of mutual aid. So, we decided to spec a vehicle that can handle almost anything with a crew of five-whether it be fire suppression or a rescue."

The Hummelstown (PA) Chemical Fire Co. No. 1 chose Alexis to
build a rescue-pumper that would replace an older pumper and
worn-out rescue in the department's fleet. (Photos courtesy of

Cogan says the department put together a committee composed of line officers and the fire company president and treasurer. "We determined what we wanted on the vehicle and started out with a $1 million truck. [We] tweaked it back to what our budget would stand," Cogan notes. "Once we got a good idea of what we wanted in the vehicle, we sent our specs out to a list of different manufacturers to see what they could do for us."

Ultimately, five companies placed bids for the Hummelstown vehicle. "We wanted a pumper first and a rescue second, along with a Class A foam system and a light tower," Cogan points out. "This is our first vehicle with a light tower, and we wanted a big enough generator to handle that light tower as well as all the other power requirements on the vehicle. Alexis is the one we chose to build the truck."

The rescue-pumper carries a Hale QMAX 150 1,500-gpm pump with a left-side pump panel, a 750-gallon water tank, and an integral 30-gallon foam tank

The rescue-pumper carries a Hale QMAX 150 1,500-gpm pump
with a left-side pump panel, a 750-gallon water tank, and an
integral 30-gallon foam tank.

Filling Multiple Roles

Rick Debroisse, owner of I.M. Apparatus, the Alexis dealer for Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, acknowledges that Hummelstown wanted to design a multifunctional piece of apparatus. "They wanted a front-line pumper merged with a rescue because this apparatus would be their first-due piece in their own district as well as for mutual aid," Debroisse says. "They wanted all the multifunctional capabilities we could offer, including space for all the equipment that goes along with it."

Dirk Jordan, lead sales engineer for Alexis, says the rescue-pumper design Alexis came up with for Hummelstown "allows a combination of the best of both worlds. They wanted a low hosebed, lots of compartment space, and upper storage compartments on the roof." He adds, "When you go for a low hosebed and a big water load, it's a challenge to put in deep compartments because there is only so much space available, but we were able to do it. In addition, Hummelstown wanted a short turning radius on the vehicle, which we also were able to give them."

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Posted: Jan 10, 2014

Apparatus/Equipment News

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Posted: Jan 10, 2014

Ryan O'Donnell, President, Lion Training Resource Group

By Chris McLoone

How has the ATTACK™ Digital Fire Training System been received so far?

It's going well. The ATTACK training system is a product that we've had in development for several years. The idea actually came from hands-on training instructors at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) who were looking for a way to simulate the seat of a fire in an acquired structure, obviously couldn't have live fire, but had a lot of training to do and a lot trainees to get through different evolutions. We worked with them over a couple of years to develop a system that used some LED technology, sound, and smoke to simulate realistic fire conditions without live fire. We were proud to launch the product, and the launch has gone quite well. We've got several units sold, and we're having a lot of conversations with customers around the country. And, they seem to get it. It seems that a lot of departments are facing the same challenge of having an acquired structure or a burn tower [in which] they can't have as large fires as they used to or they can't have fires at all anymore because of the structural implications and are looking for a way to engage in realistic training.

How has the transition to Lion ownership gone?

It's gone well. It's interesting for us to be part of a larger organization. We started BullEx several years ago. We've grown pretty quickly and have established a global presence. But, being part of the Lion organization really gives us the foundation to continue to grow and develop innovative products for the fire service. It's been good.

How has coming under the Lion umbrella enhanced what BullEx can offer the fire service?

I would say that it helps us see the bigger picture in the fire service. Obviously Lion also operates worldwide. It is the largest manufacturer of personal protective equipment for firefighters, so there's a broad perspective there. There's a lot of focus on readiness, which I think has a strong relationship to training, and that's how we fit into the whole picture. So, there's a lot of discussion about how we can, as one organization, help fire departments maintain their levels of readiness, whether that's through the right training, the right training equipment, the right personal protective gear, or the right maintenance systems. So, it's helped us see that bigger picture and respond to the needs of the fire service in a way we probably couldn't have before.

What do you think is the most important issue facing the fire service currently?

The issue we hear the most about, from our perspective, and I think it's an issue that has implications beyond just training, is the fact that there aren't as many fires as there used to be. And, why we hear a lot about that, in doing what we do in manufacturing training equipment, is that because there aren't as many fires day to day to maintain the same level of readiness, training has become more important in departments around the country and around the world. Our ability to create the right props, the right training facilities, and the right training tools is important. Working with fire departments to understand how we can best do that has become our mission.

What keeps you up at night?

Other than my two young kids, probably my cell phone! Right now we're working on building training facility projects in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia. So we've got operations that are happening around the clock, and we're honored to be able to work with as many departments around the world as we have.

But, there are certainly some challenges with having a global business, and sleep is one of those challenges! It's a good challenge to have, and again we are fortunate and thankful that we've got that challenge. That's something that keeps me up at night. Probably what's a

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Posted: Jan 10, 2014

The MegaMover®

By Raul A. Angulo

One year I had the privilege of moderating Brennan and Bruno "Unplugged" at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC).

I remember someone from the audience at an FDIC Big Room Session asked the late, great Tom Brennan, former editor in chief of Fire Engineering, about search and rescue techniques-specifically referring to which lifting technique he preferred when carrying a victim out of a building. Brennan looked at Chief (Ret.) Alan Brunacini, Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department, with that "What do you think" look and said something like, " I don't know, I think in the heat of the battle you just grab them and go and hope whatever you're holding onto (skin, clothes, or an arm) doesn't come off!" It's a graphic word picture, but the tongue-in-cheek comment was based on the reality of this job.

The Hummelstown rescue-pumper
The MegaMover measures 40 by 80 inches and is made from
nonwoven, latex-free nylon. This provides a fluid barrier for
protection. Heavy duty reinforced nylon straps are set in a grid to
provide strength and support for the patient. Fourteen handles
evenly spaced are part of the grid system to provide a working
strength of 1,000 pounds with a maximum breaking strength of
1,500 pounds, yet the entire unit only weighs one pound. (Photos
by author.)

When you think about it, whether we're talking about firefighting, technical rescues, motor vehicle accidents, or emergency medical services (EMS), a lot of our job involves moving a person from point A to point B-from a hazardous area to an area of safety. Since the traditional fireman's carry, tools and techniques have been developed to make this task easier. As emergency medicine evolved, a whole new emphasis was placed on spinal stabilization during extrication procedures, which led to the development of specialized spinal stabilizing devices. But tools and ideas don't have to be complicated to work. One case in point is the MegaMover®.

Enhancing an Old Idea

The MegaMover is based on the old blanket drag rescue technique. Then someone thought, "You know what this blanket needs? Handles!" After a few blankets ripped and patients dropped, someone else thought, "You know, this blanket needs to be made of something stronger than cotton." And, so it went. Although firefighters were still using large, heavy canvas tarps for this evolution, the idea was seized and perfected by Graham Medical, a subsidiary of the Little Rapids Corporation in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The MegaMover is a portable patient transport unit used to transport, transfer, or rescue patients from areas inaccessible to stretchers and for transferring a patient from a gurney to a bed. It could be considered a lightweight tarp with handles. This 40- x 80-inch nonwoven, latex-free, nylon-constructed tarp provides a fluid barrier to protect personnel, equipment, chairs, and mattresses from blood and other bodily fluids. Additional heavy duty reinforced nylon straps are laid out in a vertical and horizontal grid, which gives it the strength to withstand 1,000 pounds. The actual weight capacity is 1,500 pounds, which gives the MegaMover an almost 2:1 safety factor, yet this compact unit weighs only one pound. The support grid incorporates 14 reinforced nylon handles, which are evenly spaced around the tarp.

There are various models of the MegaMover. In the Seattle (WA) Fire Department (SFD), we use the disposable basic 1500 model, named for the weight capacity of 1,500 pounds. The MegaMoverPlus has built-in pockets to accommodate standard backboards for spinal and neck injury transports, and the newest

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Posted: Jan 10, 2014

Personal Safety Equipment Broadens Its Reach Among Fire Departments

By Alan M. Petrillo

More and more departments, large and small, are moving toward providing firefighters with personal safety gear often referred to as bailout kits.

Some styles of this equipment are embedded in turnout pants, like internal harnesses, while others are separate units. But, each type of escape gear is there to give firefighters the ability to save themselves if it becomes necessary.

Growing Market

Matt Hunt, rescue safety market manager for Sterling Rope Co., says Sterling has seen a continued growth in the personal escape market for firefighters. Fire departments are getting used to the idea of issuing personal escape gear to firefighters doing high-rise work, Hunt says, especially those in residential structures like apartment buildings where there are no fire suppression systems like standpipes or sprinklers.

"A fall off of the third story of a structure can be as bad as a longer fall," Hunt says, "depending on what you land on. Realistically we think every interior firefighter should have access to a personal escape system."

Sterling Rope offers the component parts that go into a personal escape system as well as complete systems themselves. "We are now producing our own hook, the Lightning hook," he says, "made out of aluminum instead of steel, to cut the weight by a third, and with a gated hitching slot like a carabiner where you clip in instead of having to thread the rope through a slot."

Sterling Rope makes the F4 Escape Tech kit
Sterling Rope makes the F4 Escape Tech kit that includes its newly
developed Lightning hook, shown here being deployed. (Photo
courtesy of Sterling Rope Co.)

The Sterling-built F4 Escape Tech kit includes 50 feet of Escape Tech rope, an F4 escape device, a SAFE-D three-stage carabiner, and a Lightning hook enclosed in a low-profile bag that hangs below a firefighter's SCBA. Hunt notes that the system weighs 3.2 pounds, and each component is UL-certified to NFPA 1983, Standard on Life Safety Rope and Equipment for Emergency Services. The F4 Escape Tech system also can be configured with a Crosby hook instead of the Lightning hook.

Some departments prefer to build their own kits depending on their needs assessments, Hunt points out, and many of them pick and choose specific pieces of equipment from different manufacturers to develop their own customized personal escape kit. "Most personal escape kits are aftermarket solutions," Hunt adds, "but over time, we will see more integrated solutions where the entire system is designed as a unit to work together. We're also seeing a trend toward integration with some self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) companies offering escape systems built onto their SCBA."

SCBA Integrated System

Mark Williamson, global product manager for supplied air products at Avon Protection Systems Inc., says his company makes a personal escape system that attaches to its Deltair SCBA lumbar pad with two straps. "If it's needed, you could drop the SCBA, hold the release straps (which keep the rescue belt on), anchor yourself, and use the descending device," Williamson says.

The Avon system is custom built through a Fire Innovations design, he notes, to include 50 feet of Sterling TSafe Technora 7.5-millimeter rope attached to a carabiner, anchor hook, and descending device. "The system can be used as a standalone rescue belt too," Williamson points out.

Integrated Class II HarnessRead more

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