The Apparatus Architect - Part 30: New Apparatus Success Stories

Tom Shand and Michael Wilbur review several fire departments’ efforts to detail the design criteria for their new rigs.


The previous installment of The Apparatus Architect series highlighted two well-designed new units, one an engine from the Mount Joy Fire Department and a tractor-drawn aerial ladder from the Eden Fire Company, both in Lancaster County, PA (January 2007). Both of these departments did their homework...


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The previous installment of The Apparatus Architect series highlighted two well-designed new units, one an engine from the Mount Joy Fire Department and a tractor-drawn aerial ladder from the Eden Fire Company, both in Lancaster County, PA (January 2007). Both of these departments did their homework to develop specifications that would result in a new apparatus which would meet the needs of the department and their first-due areas. In this article, we will review several other departments' efforts to detail the design criteria for their new rigs.

The Syracuse Fire Department in upstate New York operates 10 engine companies, six truck companies, a rescue company and several aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) units from 12 stations that are strategically located throughout the city. Beginning in 1972, the fire department underwent a major restructuring of operations with new stations and relocation of companies to deliver services more efficiently.

As part of this transformation, the department's apparatus fleet was completely replaced in a four-year period. Small attack units were termed "mini pumpers" and each carried a 250-gpm PTO-driven pump, 200-gallon water tank, two crosslay lines and a bed of supply line. The term "maxi pumper" was coined to describe the first newly delivered pumpers. At the time, these engines were equipped with 1,500-gpm single-stage pumps, 500-gallon water tanks with Rapid Water, 50-foot TeleSqurt booms, four crosslays and rescue-style body compartments. For its time, when combined with automated pump controls, remote-control hydrant valves and the associated mini pumper, the standard Syracuse engine company was a formidable force on the fireground.

Over the years, certain technology worked well and was adopted on all later apparatus acquisitions throughout the department. The department's current engine fleet is equipped with the 50-foot version of the TeleSqurt, 2,000-gpm pumps, class A and B foam systems, front trash lines and four crosslays that are all piped with 2½-inch full-flow valves and plumbing. Hinged body doors have given way to roll-up shutter doors, the chassis are equipped with automatic onboard lubrication systems and all bodywork is fabricated from stainless steel to combat the harsh upstate winters.

The Syracuse Fire Department is under the command of Chief John T. Cowin and protects a city of approximately 150,000 residents in a 25-square-mile area. The fire department Apparatus Advisory Committee is headed by District Chief David Reeves. Reeves and representatives from the maintenance division, training, officers and company members provide the necessary input to allow the department to fully develop its specifications for all new apparatus. Over the years, as each batch of pumpers was delivered and placed into service, one could notice subtle changes and improvements that reflected feedback from the companies as well as from the maintenance shops, which developed a history of each rig and its performance with respect to down time and any other problems.

The most recent deliveries were American LaFrance units placed into service at Engine Company 3 and Engine Company 6. These units were built on the ALF Eagle 134 cab with a 200-inch wheelbase. With an overall length of 31 feet, seven inches, these units are very maneuverable in the inner city and are designed to be compatible with other units in the fleet. In particular, the pump panel and operating controls are laid out in a logical fashion for the driver and all controls are color coded to match the crosslay lines. Cab interiors are outfitted with EMS cabinets with a roll-up door and side-facing scene lights improve lighting around the perimeter of the apparatus.

Each of the engines is also equipped with a portable Task Force Tips Blitzfire monitor that can be supplied by 200 feet of lightweight attack line. Together with the four crosslays and the TeleSqurt boom, a Syracuse engine company can easily develop over 2,000 gpm at working fires. Each engine is equipped with split beds of 700 feet of four-inch hose and with a very strong, largely gravity-fed water supply, the fire department has the ability to develop both handline and large-caliber streams at any incident.

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