The New Fire Apparatus: Multi-Purpose Units Meet Variety of Needs

Editor's Note: This article is part of a continuing series on fire apparatus maintenance and design found within Firehouse Magazine and For more on multi-functional vehicles you can view the "Firehouse Roundtable: Multi-Purpose Apparatus...

Oyen said one of the keys to making apparatus multi-purpose is to use all the all available space and use of available truck "real estate" can make apparatus more versatile.

He said Rosenbauer apparatus typically has Class A pumps, but where it is placed can be negotiated. Rear-mount pumps often leads to improved compartments space and even kicking the pump off to one side, or moving it to non-traditional locations can free up space used for another purpose.

That's the premise for Crimson Fire's FRAC and Transformer apparatus, said Doebler. Using every inch of the apparatus is critical to making it multi-functional.

The Europeans have learned how to use every bit of space on apparatus, Doebler said.

"Not one inch is wasted," Doebler said. He predicted as much as 30 percent of the new items introduced at Intershutz Fire Rescue show will make its way to North America within the next five years.

"There's a desire for apparatus that offers the total solution," he said. "We are always looking for the next big thing."

Today, Saulsbury said, 50 to 75 percent of all engines sold are considered rescue pumpers with lots of compartment space with rescue tools, light towers and a variety of other equipment historically dedicated to other apparatus.

There's a trend suggesting apparatus has become more and more versatile over the years, a trend that is worldwide, Saulsbury said.

Saulsbury is scheduled to present his thoughts and findings at Firehouse World, the Firehouse trade show and training conference in San Diego, Calif., Feb. 26 to March 2. Titled "The Future Impact on US Fire Apparatus with Innovations from Intershutz and Around the World," the presentation will look at what's new in apparatus, from 300-foot aerials to, ultra-high pressure pumps to "compact" multi-purpose rescue pumpers.

Apparatus in the United States is becoming increasingly influenced by European designs and Saulsbury said that trend will continue, especially as NFPA becomes more accepting of overseas designs.

"The apparatus we see today is much like what the Europeans were doing in the '70s and '80s," Saulsbury said, noting that he hopes the barriers keeping European designs out of the U.S. will begin to relax some giving firefighters in the U.S. more selection creating multi-purpose apparatus to help them do their jobs.

"Apparatus, worldwide, is evolving, with PTO pumps coming on, rear-mount pumps, compact designs and Bronto-style aerial devices," Saulsbury said. "And it's coming to the states as well."