Part 41 Sometimes, it's the little things that count. With all of the activities surrounding the fire service — response to alarms, training, physical fitness, meetings, staffing plans and budget reviews — it is difficult at times to step back and look at the big picture. Apparatus design...
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Engine company operations can often be inhibited when the location of the fire is a greater distance than the longest available pre-connected attack line. For this reason, bulk hosebeds or backstretch hosebeds are necessary to enable engine company personnel to stretch and advance hoselines deep into buildings or into courtyards to provide sufficient hose to reach the objective. Bulk hosebeds or backstretch hosebeds are also necessary to give ladder company apparatus adequate room for optimum positioning, enabling engine company apparatus to be located farther from the fire building, but still have operational effectiveness. Harrisburg Wagon 3 carries a bulk bed of three-inch hose that can be used as leader line to provide this capability. The Kentland, MD, Volunteer Fire Company carries a backstretch bed of attack line connected to a bed of 2½-inch hose that can be deployed rapidly to provide an attack line for long stretches.
The position and location of handrails, fixed steps and scene lighting on apparatus is critical to ensure the safety of operating personnel. If you have the choice between providing a fold-down-style step or fixed step on your apparatus, go with the fixed-step wherever possible. When locating steps, position a non-slip handrail of an appropriate size and adequate lighting to illuminate the area. The Round Hill Community Fire and Rescue Company in Frederick County, VA, operates a well-designed unit that is equipped with a full-width rear step and intermediate step to access the hosebed. The department incorporated telescopic lighting at the rear body, where full-length light poles are provided with a non-slip gripping surface and double as handrails.
These are just a few examples of departments that have carefully thought through their operations and how they could enhance firefighter safety and operations in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Your engine company must be proficient in advancing all types and sizes of handlines as well as deploying all appliances, tools and equipment from the apparatus. Fire apparatus are a lot like tool boxes — the more tools and variety of tools that the apparatus carry, the more able they are to do the job that is required. It may be time to look at your apparatus and consider a "safety spring cleaning" to ensure that you are operating at peak efficiency.
TOM SHAND, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a 33-year veteran of the fire service and works with Michael Wilbur at Emergency Vehicle Response, consulting on a variety of fire apparatus and fire department master-planning issues. He is employed by Seagrave Fire Apparatus LLC as a regional sales manager. MICHAEL WILBUR, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department, assigned to Ladder Company 27 in the Bronx, and has served on the FDNY Apparatus Purchasing Committee. He consults on a variety of apparatus-related issues around the country. For further information, access his website at www.emergencyvehicleresponse.com.