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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Joint purchasing arrangements between departments on a regional level are becoming more common. Pierce developed a proposal for a variety of apparatus configurations for the Northeast Municipal Purchasing Cooperative - a joint effort by departments in the greater Chicago metropolitan area. It allows Pierce to take advantage of economies of scale in engineering, manufacturing and purchasing, while the departments benefit from volume pricing and simplified purchasing. When departments can agree on purchasing similar apparatus, manufacturers are in a position to offer multiple-order discounts. Likewise, many fire departments consider tagging on to large municipal orders to obtain discounted pricing. For example, the city of Los Angeles leads the trend in apparatus configuration and selection in Southern California. In addition to the 33 Pierce apparatus purchased by L.A., similar configurations are being ordered by surrounding communities.

American LaFrance: Standardization and the use of tried and proven components, technology and vehicle configurations are among the best methods for customers to control the rising costs of new equipment. Specifying equipment that has been tested for compliance and durability is also critical. In addition, vehicle leasing and new fleet management practices, maintenance agreements and extended warranties can all be used to lower the total cost of ownership to the fire and emergency services.

Ferrara: One way is refurbishing their old apparatus. They can also lean toward manufactured program trucks rather than customizing.

KME: Bid specifications that do not require brand-specific components allow manufacturers to provide accessories that have already been incorporated into their vehicle design. Additionally, it would be highly recommended, upon completion of a department's bid specification, to have a vehicle manufacturer do a design review of the specified unit to ensure that the bid requirements will not require an excessive amount of engineering on any proposed apparatus.

Saulsbury: To reduce the cost of apparatus a fire department should work with the manufacturer to utilize standard production techniques that will not require extensive engineering and testing. Keep the unit simple and not complex. If it is complex to design and build, then it is also complex to operate or maintain.

Where is the industry heading in regards to braking systems, multi-wheel-drive and engine size?

Pierce: With the advent of ABS systems the fire industry has caught up quickly with the auto and the over-the-road trucking industry. ABS is standard on all Pierce chassis. Above and beyond this we allow for electro-magnetic driveline brakes, engine brakes and transmission retarders to assist in braking. Pierce already offers optional systems which warn if it is clear to make a lane change or advise how close the vehicle is to another object while backing up. Future braking systems may allow for optional systems which warn drivers that they are encroaching on an vehicle or object ahead of them, thus allowing more time to react when braking.

Multi-wheel-drive systems are becoming more popular, particularly for urban/wildland interface applications and in areas that require advanced mobility. Pierce offers all-wheel-drive configurations on the majority of custom chassis. If you need extra traction on a Pierce chassis, we have it with up to 500- hp engines to move you around. It's likely that the offering of all-wheel-drive trucks will only increase.

We will see a big demand placed on the horsepower ratings applied to all of the engines used in the fire industry. With the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) issues that will be enforced in the year 2002, efficiently cooling engines while maintaining horsepower ratings will be the primary challenge. To effectively cool engines under the new EPA guidelines means that larger radiators will have to be installed or additional radiators with electric fans will be added. Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) will also be added to the engines, and they will have to be cooled properly. All of this could mean changes to the cab design to accommodate more space for the engine.

Saulsbury: Chassis manufacturers are already utilizing the use of antilock braking systems and a secondary braking device; these requirements are staying current with the heavy truck requirements. Multi-wheel-drive units depend upon the topographic area and fire department requirements of the area. Engines are becoming larger and more powerful.

American LaFrance: The primary challenge facing manufacturers with the development of fire and emergency service vehicles is market size. The cost to develop components that are unique to the fire and emergency service is prohibitive. Therefore, as in the past, the challenge will be to locate and utilize componentry and technology that has been developed for commercial vehicles and apply it to our vocation.