The Apparatus Architect Part 39 - Apparatus Design on New and Rebuilt Units

Tom Shand and Michael Wilbur explain why, with municipal budgets getting tighter and funds for capital projects becoming scarce, it is more important than ever to develop an apparatus-replacement program for your department.With the beginning of a new...


Tom Shand and Michael Wilbur explain why, with municipal budgets getting tighter and funds for capital projects becoming scarce, it is more important than ever to develop an apparatus-replacement program for your department. With the beginning of a new year, it is appropriate to reflect back on our...


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Tom Shand and Michael Wilbur explain why, with municipal budgets getting tighter and funds for capital projects becoming scarce, it is more important than ever to develop an apparatus-replacement program for your department.

With the beginning of a new year, it is appropriate to reflect back on our travels from 2008 with the many fire departments that we visited and offer a few comments on some of the apparatus fleets that were impressive for many reasons.

With municipal budgets getting tighter and funds for capital projects becoming scarce, it is more important than ever to develop an apparatus-replacement program for your department. Even if there are no funding issues on the horizon for your organization, it is still prudent to have a well-developed and well-thought-out replacement program that will meet the needs of the community as well as provide safe and reliable apparatus for your personnel. If you feel you need help developing a plan, seek the services of an apparatus architect. The help provided could prove to be invaluable.

Whether your present fleet is comprised of units that were purchased new or is made up of new and used equipment, the balance between providing needed services to your community balanced against operating costs is more important than ever. Following are a few examples of departments operating in different areas of the country and how they addressed their apparatus requirements while balancing the total costs of ownership over the life cycle of the vehicles.

Orrville, OH, is in Wayne County, in the southeastern portion of the state, and is home to many commercial and industrial properties, including the J.M. Smucker Co. The fire department protects approximately 11,500 people within a 25-square-mile area and responds to over 500 incidents each year. The department is under the command of Chief Robert Ballentine, who oversees 40 personnel responding from two stations.

The department operates three engines, one ladder tower, a heavy rescue, a tanker and an ambulance with a mix of different apparatus body builders. The department's ladder truck is a 1999 American LaFrance equipped with a 100-foot LTI rear-mount ladder tower. Portions of the aerial device were transferred from an older unit, rebuilt and remounted on the new chassis together with a new fire pump, water tank and body components. After the department took delivery of this rebuilt apparatus, several units within the fleet began to show their age, including an older walk-in rescue truck and an overloaded mini-pumper.

The department sought to design a single unit to replace both older rigs, which resulted in a combination rescue engine equipped with a 1,250-gpm pump, 500-gallon water tank, light tower, hydraulic generator and full complement of rescue equipment. Rescue 63 carries all of the equipment that was previously carried on the other department vehicles and ultimately replaced three rigs, reducing maintenance and insurance costs for the department.

The Mount Horeb Fire Department protects several villages and the greater portion of six towns in Dane County, WI, with a population of over 13,000 people within 125 square miles. The department is led by Chief Charles Himsel, who commands 65 volunteer personnel operating from one centrally located station. The department's apparatus fleet consists of three engines, one ladder, one heavy rescue, a brush unit and an ambulance that are all painted in the unique Mount Horeb "Safety Black" graphics.

Each apparatus in the Mount Horeb fleet has unique design characteristics such as a fully enclosed top-mount pump panel that incorporates crew seating on the Peterbilt chassis, a fully enclosed rear hosebed and low-mounted crosslays built into the pump enclosure. While the department's front-line structural apparatus were in good shape, there was a need to provide a unit with off-road capabilities for rural and brushfire incidents. With this in mind, Himsel contacted the local Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office to inquire about obtaining a former U.S. military apparatus for Mount Horeb.

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