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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A central emphasis of commercial vehicle development is the development of components and vehicle systems designed to improve safety and operator productivity. There will be continued emphasis on integrated electronic vehicle systems and controls, vehicle stability and braking systems, occupant protection and vehicle collision avoidance systems. Emissions requirements and resulting design changes will dictate how today's engines will be rated for brake horsepower and torque. It is possible that the customer may have to select larger engine displacements/models in the future to obtain the same horsepower and torque that are available today in smaller engines. This will cause departments to scrutinize how the vehicle must be configured to accomplish its intended missions and may lead to increased quantities of smaller, lighter vehicles.

Crash Rescue: I think antilock braking, all-wheel drive and rear steer will become more common. Engines will continue to increase in power while improving in emissions and noise levels. New power sources or drive systems may emerge such as hydraulic drive at each wheel instead of an engine/ transmission/driveline. With hydraulic drive, the engine can be located anywhere on the vehicle.

KME: I believe that as manufacturers of major components, such as engines, transmissions and axles, make new products available, the industry will immediately react to new systems for braking and engine size. Multi-wheel-drive systems will have a lesser impact unless component manufacturers develop new technology to reduce costs.

E-One: The engine size is reaching the limit in the average fire apparatus. New advancements will be in obtaining the same 350-400 horsepower, but with less weight. The larger engines really impact the ergonomics of the cab interior.

E-One was the first fire truck manufacturer to go to ABS on all vehicles. We continue to lead in this area, making conscious improvements and going beyond all regular standards. We do not believe there is any trend to multi-wheel-drive. This is really driven by geographic location and is currently available if a department requests it.

Are there any new advances in rust or corrosion protection?

Smeal: Yes. Technology is always improving and will continue to do so.

E-One: E-One has new patented treatments to aluminum allowing major advancements in our paint coating and our primer systems. Thus, we have the best warranty (if not the only warranty) on the paint of a fire apparatus. The industry, as a whole, continues to advance by much more standard use of aluminum and stainless steel bodies and plumbing.

Crash Rescue: Corrosion protection will come in the form of new materials - composites, fiberglass, plastic compounds, carbon fiber, etc.

American LaFrance: The use of composite materials in place of the more traditional ferrous and non-ferrous materials used today will increase. These materials are more corrosion resistant, contribute to reduced vehicle weight and are significantly easier to maintain. Once tooled, the replacement cost of these parts is also lower, which could provide a lower cost of ownership over the life of the vehicle. The primary drawback from the use of these materials is the initial high cost to develop the tooling required to manufacture these components. To make these components cost effective for manufacturers to consider there must be volume, which ultimately requires various forms of standardization within the product lines offered or within the industry as a whole. But, I do see these products and processes having increased usage as today's more traditional material costs increase and there is increased pressure to develop more components that have the ability of being recycled.

KME: Stainless steel is still one of the best defenses against corrosion. New technology in paint and corrosion inhibitor systems as well as material scuff protection finishes will be incorporated into apparatus of the future.

Pierce: With the elimination of lead and chromates in paint, this has been a challenge for all apparatus manufacturers. Process controls, the isolation of dissimilar materials and the use of specialty fasteners are all helping. There is a renewed interest in petroleum-based spray-on products that keep water and salt out of body crevices.

Saulsbury: Saulsbury is primarily a builder of stainless steel apparatus. This material does not require a rust or corrosion protection material.

How will future electrical systems and load management be incorporated in overall design and use?

American LaFrance: As with today's commercial vehicles, the fire and emergency vehicle vocation will continue to see an increase in the integration of the vehicle electronic systems. This will increase its dependence on the networking of these systems to eliminate redundancy and cost and also to improve diagnostics and communication with the operator of these vehicles.