No matter what the size of your fire department or other operational characteristics that may influence the makeup of your apparatus fleet, every department generally operates some type of pumping apparatus. In your area it may be referred to as an engine, pumper, wagon or triple, but the mission of...
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No matter what the size of your fire department or other operational characteristics that may influence the makeup of your apparatus fleet, every department generally operates some type of pumping apparatus. In your area it may be referred to as an engine, pumper, wagon or triple, but the mission of the engine company apparatus is to successfully deploy personnel, a fire pump, hose and water to the incident in a safe and controlled manner. For this reason we will spend the next several articles describing some of the concepts that you should consider when developing specifications for engine company apparatus.
Not so long ago, it was fairly common practice to simply “buy up” one pump and tank size from the last-purchased apparatus. For example, if the engine purchased in 1992 was equipped with a 1,500-gpm pump and a 500-gallon booster tank, the next vehicle purchased would be provided with a 1,750-gpm pump and a 750-gallon water tank. This practice has continued to the point where in some cases we are buying rigs with 2,250-gpm pumps and 1,000-gallon water tanks simply because we can! In Part 1 of The Apparatus Architect series we talked about defining the job of the apparatus and clearly defining the mission of the unit. Only after doing this can the apparatus committee start out on the right foot to adequately design the engine company apparatus.
Several strategies can be applied when designing engine company apparatus. It is important to consider that anything that the committee does to change or improve upon the previously accepted standard within the fire department may not be met with universal appeal. Remember to engage the other officers, members, training and maintenance personnel when developing the specifications for new apparatus.
One very successful strategy for designing new engines is to look at the unit in terms of a box – a tool box, to be more descriptive. This container has four sides and a top, each component of which is vital to the overall mission of the container. The equipment carried on the apparatus or the lack of equipment can make or break the whole operation. Some departments have chosen to limit themselves by loading up crosslays with two-inch hose and loading up the hosebed with five-inch hose and calling it good. This could be a serious tactical and operational mistake.
Engine companies should be equipped with a variety of hose sizes so that firefighters can deploy the right-size hose with the right fire flow to extinguish the fire in the shortest amount of time. The more tools in the tool box, the better able we are to do the job.
The front of the engine must be capable of deploying suction and discharge lines, as well as having impact protection for the crew. The left side of the pumper will house the fire pump and controls, which must be laid out in a logical manner to enable the operator to safely get water under all types of weather and fireground conditions. The rear contains one of the most valuable pieces of real estate on apparatus that allows us to develop an uninterrupted water supply and extend hoselines for fire control. Coming around to the right side we often find misplaced equipment or ground ladders that are difficult to remove from the engine. Finally, the top of the apparatus carries everything else that we need on our giant pumping machine and often gets overlooked when considering personnel climbing up or down on the engine to deploy equipment or repack hoselines.
By giving careful consideration to each of the areas or sides of the apparatus, we can end up with a much-refined engine company that will successfully meet our needs and make the unit safer for all operating personnel. The goal is not to get bogged down on any one design issue, but rather to focus on the entire unit and how, through a combination of many smaller items and components, the completed vehicle will achieve the desired results using this integrated process. Several fire departments have successfully designed new engine company apparatus with very different rigs. We will take a brief look at each unit and how the design process evolved into the apparatus that they placed into service.