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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Saulsbury: Transport of personnel to and from the scene is done in the chassis portion of the apparatus. Saulsbury is primarily a body manufacturer and we work with our suppliers to influence and keep up with safety in their cabs.

Hackney: Safety and crashworthiness has always been a paramount issue to the major apparatus manufacturers, if for no other reason than to reduce liability exposure. For instance, Hackney limits the type of seating configurations to only those that have been independently tested to meet FMVSS requirements. We no longer offer a configuration that forces the occupants to sit sideways while the apparatus is in transit. The risk of serious injury is greatly increased in this position should the apparatus be involved in a frontal zone crash. Where there is potential for upper torso contact with interior objects, shoulder restraints are required, whether the buyer wants them or not.

With the advent of electronic engines and transmissions, many safety features can be incorporated into the design of the apparatus. For instance, Hackney provides a mandatory transmission-disable circuit whenever a telescoping light tower is installed that prevents the apparatus from being moved anytime the tower is not nested. This prevents accidental electrocution should someone drive the apparatus under power lines.

Pierce: Ironically, custom fire truck cabs are among the strongest structurally built vehicles in the world. Our cabs are the heaviest built and most crashworthy cab-overs in the truck industry. Commercial truck cabs won't likely change unless FMVSS changes their standards.

Are there ways for fire departments to reduce overall costs of purchasing apparatus?

E-One: Yes. One of the best ways for departments to reduce costs when purchasing is to use the old "80/20" rule. The objective is to spec 80% of the vehicle without customization. By setting a goal of keeping the customization of the vehicle below 20%, fire departments create the opportunity to reduce their overall costs. Another good idea is to have several small communities get together, follow the 80/20 rule and then purchase all of the vehicles as a group. A fleet approach could also save the departments some money.

Smeal: Many departments "over spec" their trucks. A truck committee needs to do its homework by researching new technology and then applying it to what is really needed for their department. Their specs should be written accordingly. Many departments try to design the truck that has everything and then they want the manufacturers to build it. This is a "custom truck" industry, but there is such a thing as overkill. Beyond a certain point, the price of an apparatus raises considerably.

Hackney: There are always ways to reduce apparatus purchase cost. Typically, procure costs soar when an apparatus is designed by the infamous "committee," meaning each member wants to incorporate something that turned them on at the last exhibition they attended. The end result is an apparatus that no one single manufacturer can build without the purchasing agency incurring greatly inflated manufacturing cost. The ideal means of reducing cost is to purchase an apparatus that provides an efficient means of accomplishing the designated mission for which it is to be purchased to accomplish. Each manufacturer works with his own manufacturing standards. If allowed to work within those parameters, the purchase price will be significantly reduced. Typically, stretching the compartment sizes isn't a cost issue.

Crash Rescue: The most significant cost reduction is for multiple vehicle purchases. I think you will see more departments going together on a single design to reduce cost.

Pierce: Leasing programs are gaining popularity and may be a way of reducing costs to purchase apparatus. Tax-free municipal leasing has been available for years. Now available are true leasing programs that are attractive to fire departments that are operating on limited budgets. Departments can acquire a fire truck for low annual payments, which can be considered part of the operating budget, freeing up much-needed capital. Basically, departments pay for what they use. Pierce offers the most comprehensive package of leasing options on the market to allow departments to improve their replacement programs and acquire the latest technology on an on-going basis.