The Apparatus Architect

In the last installment of The Apparatus Architect (November 2010), we reviewed some concepts for maneuvering through the bid-procurement process to ensure your department and community will receive competitive bids for your next piece of apparatus...


In the last installment of The Apparatus Architect (November 2010), we reviewed some concepts for maneuvering through the bid-procurement process to ensure your department and community will receive competitive bids for your next piece of apparatus. Much of the groundwork that is established early...


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In the last installment of The Apparatus Architect (November 2010), we reviewed some concepts for maneuvering through the bid-procurement process to ensure your department and community will receive competitive bids for your next piece of apparatus. Much of the groundwork that is established early with your committee will pay off dividends in the end with a smooth delivery and acceptance process for the vehicle.

As taxpayers are becoming more sensitive to large capital expenditures, we must do our homework to provide for a logical and accountable process from start to finish. While the financial picture may not look bright for the immediate future, this is no reason to sit back and forestall your vehicle-acquisition program. A detailed assessment of your fleet with a well-developed fleet-replacement plan will ensure the needed apparatus and equipment will be available to protect your community. An apparatus architect can provide you with a fleet evaluation and provide your fire department with a detailed fleet-replacement program. With this in mind, in this article we will focus on several departments that recently placed into service well-designed engine apparatus to meet their specific needs.

The La Plata Fire Department in Charles County, MD, operates from a single station staffing two engines, a rescue engine, a tractor-drawn aerial ladder, a tanker and a brush unit. Under the command of Chief Jason Moore, the volunteer department responds to more than 1,400 alarms each year in its first-due area as well as other areas of Charles County. The department had sought to replace its twin 1988 Pierce Lance pumpers with vehicles that had a short, maneuverable wheelbase with a low hosebed for advancing attack lines.

The department apparatus committee met with several prospective manufacturers and after the bids were evaluated, awarded a contract to Pierce Manufacturing for two Arrow XT pumpers. These units were constructed on a 169½-inch wheelbase with an overall length of just 30 feet. Each engine carries a 1,500-gpm pump and 500-gallon, FDNY-style water tank and is equipped with six pre-connected attack lines together with supply- line beds for three- and four-inch hose. The apparatus bodies are fabricated from stainless steel with extensive tool and equipment mounting. Each pumper is equipped with several safety components such as front down-view mirrors, backup cameras, reinforced front bumper and LED warning lights. These new pumpers prove that "bigger is not always better" and are a good example of well-designed engine apparatus. While some departments continue to "supersize" their apparatus, the officers and members of the La Plata Fire Department worked diligently to design a pair of practical, short-wheelbase units to meet the needs of the community.

In upstate New York, the Syracuse Fire Department operates with 10 engine companies, six truck companies, a rescue company and several aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) apparatus from 12 strategically located fire stations. The department, under command of Chief Mark J. McLees, annually responds to more than 20,000 alarms, employing well-developed tactics for structural firefighting. The department uses two-piece engine companies to deliver both EMS and suppression services. This concept dates back to 1972, when the department embarked on a radical reorganization plan to modernize operations with the construction of seven new fire stations and a complete replacement of all front-line apparatus within five years. All truck companies are provided with Sutphen aerial towers with a four-piece rescue company that is staffed with seven personnel. Each engine and truck company is staffed with four personnel on each shift. Each engine company operates with a full-size pumper together with a mini pumper that is used as an EMS first-response vehicle. These smaller four-wheel-drive units are equipped with composite bodies and reduce wear and tear on the larger apparatus.

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