20 Years Of Service

Then & Now Apparatus: 1974 Maxim aerial 1996 Pierce aerial platform Weight: 46,000 pounds 70,000 pounds Height:  10 feet, 4 inches 11 feet, 5 inches Wheel base: 200 inches 263 inches...

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Then & Now

Apparatus: 1974 Maxim aerial 1996 Pierce aerial platform
Weight: 46,000 pounds 70,000 pounds
Height:  10 feet, 4 inches 11 feet, 5 inches
Wheel base: 200 inches 263 inches
Overall length: 36 feet, 2 inches 47 feet
Engine: 8-cylinder 350 hp, 2,300 rpm, 6-speed transmission 6-cylinder, 470 hp, 2,100 rpm, 5-speed electronic transmission, retarder
Fire pump: 1,000 gpm, 2 stage 1,500 gpm, single stage
Booster tank: 200 gallons Not available
Ground ladders: Wooden Aluminum
Aerial ladder: 100-foot, 3-section all steel, 250-pound tip load 102-foot heavy-duty climbable, 3-section all steel, 1,000-pound tip load
Hose bed: Split type, 2 compartments with 500 feet of 21/2-inch hose, 150 feet of 3-inch hose for ladder pipe, cross lays with 150 feet of 11/2-inch hose 1,000 feet of 5-inch hose with 5-inch hose intake to feed pre-piped waterway with crosslays of 13/4-inch hose
Cab: 5-person semi-enclosed with jump seats 10-person fully enclosed with air conditioning and heat
Platform: Not available Equipped with breathing air, 110-volt electricity, 13/4-inch hose, 3-way intercom, 4 spot/floodlights and 2  monitored nozzles, one manual, one remote-controlled
Air horns: Roof mounted Bumper mounted
Generator: Small portable, gas-powered Onboard, 1,200-watt diesel
Retarder: Not available Yes
Automatic chains: Not available Yes
Heated mirrors: Not available Yes
Heated pump: Not available Yes
Cost: $110,000, including trade-in of 1956 rig $651,322

It is only fitting, that on Firehouse® Magazine's 20th anniversary, that in this column we compare driving emergency vehicles today vs. 20 years ago.

The first place to look is the apparatus we drive. What is the same? What is different? What technological advances have been made in apparatus manufacturing and accessories?

For this apparatus comparison we will use the aerial apparatus from the McQuoid Engine and Ladder Company in the city of Middletown, NY. In 1974, Middletown purchased a 100-foot quint from Maxim Motors of Foxboro, MA. This past summer, Middletown replaced the Maxim Quint with a 1996 Pierce Lance 102-foot aerial platform (see chart for comparisons).

Already we see a lot of changes. First, Maxim Motors is out of business and Pierce Manufacturing went from little known in 1974 to a major fire apparatus supplier in 1996. (A lesson to be learned here is that fire apparatus manufacturing is a volatile business. Many old-time manufacturers went out of business for a variety of reasons Ward LaFrance, Hahn, Ahrens Fox, Maxim, Peter Pirsch, Crown Coach, FMC, Young and Sanford, to name just a few. It is my advice to get a Dun & Bradstreet financial outlook on any potential bidder for your new apparatus purchase. This may help to prevent future problems.)

The overall size of the 1996 model dwarfs the 1974 unit. The Pierce is almost twice as heavy, one foot taller, 10 feet longer and has a wheel base 63 inches longer than the Maxim. The 1996 diesel engine has fewer cylinders, doing fewer rpm and creating more horsepower. The new transmission has one less forward gear and electronics have been introduced.

The trend for fire pumps is to go from two-stage 1,000-gpm units and this is likely to continue with gasoline engines being phased out in favor of diesels that can create much more horsepower to power pumps.

Wooden portable ladders are being phased out in favor of lighter-weight aluminum ladders. This trend will likely continue as obtaining sufficient manpower for initial fire suppression becomes a bigger problem. Also, large-diameter hose has grown in popularity over the past 20 years. Two reasons come to mind: we can flow more water with less hose and modern-day master streams require more water for operation.

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