The Future of Apparatus - Part 2

Will aerial devices continue to get larger and reach greater heights? Ferrara: As modern buildings increase in size, the need for aerial units to reach greater heights will be required. Crash Rescue: There may be some more specialized...


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Will aerial devices continue to get larger and reach greater heights?

Ferrara: As modern buildings increase in size, the need for aerial units to reach greater heights will be required.

Crash Rescue: There may be some more specialized vehicles with larger aerials. However, I think mainline units will remain similar to today's units.

Saulsbury: The major concern we have with aerial devices increasing in size is weight factors versus the size of the unit.

E-One: The market trend is keeping most aerial products in the range of 75 to 100 feet. The ISO (Insurance Services Organization) has impacted this trend making it hard to justify anything over 100 feet. However, many departments still have a need for both reach and height. We believe platforms will begin to dominate this category. The new Bronto F118 HDT is a good example. It has a platform height of 118 feet and also has an excellent side reach of 84 feet in order to reach homes that are set back from the road, a very common problem in suburbia. We believe this market segment will grow in North America and that Bronto, the worldwide market leader, will be a major player.

KME: It seems the apparatus manufacturers are trying to make the aerial devices smaller in wheelbase and overall length and at the same time reach the same 75-foot and 100-foot vertical heights.

American LaFrance: The challenge in developing higher aerials is keeping the overall height and gross vehicle weight in check. As the development and use of composite materials and electronic systems for the design of aerial devices and their controls evolve, so will their ability to bear increased loads at greater heights with greater safety and stability than is available today. Aerial devices constructed of composite materials will be lighter and stronger, allowing greater loading and will benefit from improved resistance to thermal effects and corrosion.

These units will use operating envelope control systems and load moment indicating systems that will enable the aerials to reach greater heights without sacrificing stability or increasing outrigger stance.

Pierce: Aerials today are being used not only for rescue operations and elevated water towers, but EMS and engine company operation as well. The architecture in Europe has mandated the use of longer aerial devices for years. In the U.S., it's possible that the physical stature of aerial devices will continue to grow higher, longer and heavier, as these device are being called to do so many different functions. However, according to Pierce's research, longer aerials devices aren't the answer. Firefighters prefer that manufacturers emphasize safety and ease of operation for the wide range of aerials already on the market. According to our customer feedback, an internal attack is needed to effectively fight fire 10 stories in the air in any case, and water at heights above 105 feet are limited due to the pressures needed to pump the water that high. Horizontal reach and high load ratings are more important to effective aerial firefighting than reach.

Smeal: No. The North American aerial market requires vertical reach, but equally important is the horizontal reach with a large live load capacity. The high load capacities of today's aerials, while operating at low angles, are limited by the stability requirements of the machine. NFPA requires that all aerials be tested to 11/2 times the rated load with the aerial positioned in the most unstable condition. Maneuverability of the apparatus is also a concern. The overall travel heights, overall travel lengths and the finished weights of the larger aerial models are pretty much at the limit.

How will comfort and climate be addressed in cab design and riding positions?

Hackney: Larger cabs are growing in popularity. We have seen a big upward shift in the number of custom fire truck cabs this past year for rescue truck applications. Again, this is primarily to provide larger and more comfortable rehab zones or small command centers.

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