Apparatus Engineers Roundtable 2005

Firehouse Magazine conducts a Q&A with the chief engineers of apparatus manufacturers and discusses apparatus safety.

Firehouse Magazine recently asked fire apparatus manufacturers to join a roundtable to discuss the all-important issue of vehicle safety. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reports that vehicle crashes represent the second-leading cause, or about 25%, of firefighter line-of-duty deaths. The USFA...

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Cab/chassis safety dynamics – Suspensions (the TAK-4 independent front suspension system improves vehicle handling, ride control and braking in every situation), Roll Stability Control (uses ABS circuitry to decrease the chances of a rollover situation by retarding engine output and vehicle braking systems), Side Roll Protection (properly protects occupants in situations where side rolls are eminent), Tire Protection System (a new addition, the Tyron tire system monitors every tire and in the event of blowout or flat tire, allows operators to maintain full vehicle control and continue to drive under a run-flat condition) and wrap-around instrumentation (provides drivers with access to truck functions without having to take their attention off the driving environment).

Electrical systems design – Command Zone advanced electronics system (takes electrical systems to whole new level of performance, reliability and user control) and Mission Critical Programming (protects operational functions in the event of a partial or full system failure). Enhanced telematics, camera systems, vehicle diagnostics and direct communication links to Pierce service technicians are made possible with Command Zone interfacing.

Fire suppression systems – Our engineers and product specialists provide in-depth, hands-on foam and CAFS training for our customers and visitors at the Pierce Fire Suppression Training facility. Pierce-designed Hercules CAFS systems provide four times the knockdown power while using lighter hoselines, thus reducing fatigue. The drafting capability on the Pierce-designed Husky foam systems allows firefighters to train without using costly foam and is capable of filling the foam tank without transversing a slippery hosebed area. Also, the VLH self-venting cap reduces the risk of injuries caused by the inadvertent release of lines containing trapped residual pressure.

Improving safety while working on top of the truck – Pack Mule ergonomic hosebed (takes the firefighter off the top of the truck by lowering the hosebed to safe heights and lets firefighters repack hose without having to lift or pull up and on the truck), roll-up hosebed cover (in the event firefighters have to go on top, the cover provides a safe, skid-resistant cover for them) and Overhead Ladder Gantry (ladders stored on top of the truck are rotated down to an ergonomic height, which lets firefighters safely remove ground ladders).

Here are some of the areas Pierce will be investigating to introduce more safety technology into the fire industry: advanced suspensions, improved ergonomics and cab interior utilization, superior foam and CAFS technology integration, advanced communications/vehicle monitoring/telematics/prognostics/geo-fencing, and hose restraint systems.

Firehouse: What can be done to reduce the rollover potential of apparatus, such as wider tires or suspensions, when drivers steer apparatus near the edge of road surfaces?

Decoster: The frequency of side roll conditions in the fire service deserves attention.

Pierce has focused on this issue from several avenues, from designing trucks with lower center of gravity and torsionally stiff, 13-inch frame rails to offering TAK-4 independent front suspension. TAK-4 not only improved braking and ride quality, but also improved vehicle handling in adverse situations that can lead to rollovers. Pierce also offers roll stability control, which uses ABS circuitry and advanced technology to reduce rollover situations.

Our Side Roll Protection systems protect occupants when side rolls are imminent.

Although technology offers many features that prohibit side roll situations or protects during side rolls, training drivers how to respond to critical situations is also very important. Knowing how to apply correct steering inputs versus over-correcting or abrupt steering input can help avoid side roll situations.

Pierce Manufacturing takes pride in each design. We place our design efforts on integration of systems. This integration approach is critical to make fire apparatus seamless, not just bolted together components.

We feel, in the end, our designs contribute to moving the industry forward, providing safer fire apparatus and contributing to firefighter safety.

Tim Klein
Senior Design Engineer
Rosenbauer America
Tim Klein is the senior design engineer for Rosenbauer America, where he has been for the past 20 years. He earned an associate’s degree in mechanical engineering from Northwest Iowa Community College and is a Certified Manufacturing Engineering Technician. Klein is also a firefighter with over 27 years of experience, currently serving as a captain in Sioux Falls, SD.