Apparatus Technology

Sometimes, unfortunate circumstances yield good results. Such is the case for the Apex, NC, Fire Department. One of its front-line engines suffered a catastrophic pump failure at a fire scene and was suddenly out of service. That meant Apex was in need of a new engine and in a hurry.

Fortunately for Apex, E-ONE had just finished its first eMAX pumper and had it available as a demonstrator. Apex Fire Chief Mark Haraway said the city council voted emergency funds to have the department buy a replacement apparatus, something available immediately – either used or a demonstrator.

“E-ONE brought it in for a day and let us try it out,” he said. “We liked it so much, we decided to move forward with the purchase.”

E-ONE’s eMAX series of pumpers is the latest model of apparatus the company has designed to fit the changing needs of the fire service. As the fire service fights fewer and fewer fires, the company reconfigured apparatus to meet the new demands.

“Firefighters today need more space for equipment,” said Joe Hedges, E-ONE’s product manager. “That’s why we developed the eMAX rescue pumper.”

That fact was not lost on Haraway. He recognized what it could do for his department. At the same time Apex found itself looking for a new pumper, Haraway realized that another piece, a 1992 rescue, was at the end of its life expectancy. So, almost serendipitously, Apex was able to retire its aging and broken-down rescue and replace it with the new E-ONE eMAX.

“It was going to serve two-fold, as an engine and as a rescue,” Haraway said. “It was like getting two for one.” Needless to say, Haraway and his crew went ahead with the purchase, taking only a couple of tweaks to the truck to meet their needs and it was quickly in service – the very first eMAX built.

“After six months with the truck, we realized it was the best thing we had ever done,” Haraway said, noting that his department is ordering another and his county’s apparatus committee is finalizing details to make the eMAX configuration standard for the county.

Apex has four stations, running 2,700 calls annually, 60% EMS and 40% fire calls, and the new eMAX operates out of the community’s busiest station.

“It can do double duty and cover both types of calls,” Haraway said. “It’s a Class A pumper and it’s a medium-duty rescue with all the tools and rescue equipment, as well as our RIT equipment.” With the one purchase, he said, the apparatus provides “dual credits” for coverage serving as a rescue and a pumper.

“We reduced the fleet by one, but we were able to enhance service by fielding a four-person company,” Haraway said, noting that previously the crew would have to split if both the engine and the rescue were required for response.

Another eMAX early subscriber was Chief Laney Stearns of the Plantation, FL, Fire Department. His department worked on the specifications for a new truck for six years while waiting for funds for the purchase.

“We had just spent eight to 10 hours working on the pre-build specifications and were headed out of town when we got a phone call about this new eMAX apparatus,” Stearns said. “We took a look at it and realized it was exactly what we were looking for, so we decided to go ahead with it.”

And, like Haraway, Stearns said it was one of the best decisions his department had made, noting that firefighter safety was the number-one vision the department had from the start of the process.

“Our goal was to build a truck that once we got out of the cab, we would never have to leave the ground again to do anything, or get anything we need,” Stearns said. “Safety was number one.”

One way to achieve that was to have a lower rear hosebed and Plantation’s came in at 60 inches off the ground. It makes all the supply lines and pre-connected hose that much easier to pull, Stearns said.

Other features Plantation built in included speedlay trays that are 47 inches off the ground and can be reloaded in the station on the floor and then placed back in the apparatus, Stearns said. Plantation also ordered a remote-controlled deluge gun, which keeps firefighters off the top of the apparatus while it is deployed.

“Everything we did was done to try to reduce injuries,” Stearns said. “We have to remember we have to design trucks for the people who are going to be using them.”

Stearns said his department is an all-E-ONE station and he hopes that within 10 years, he will be able to convert his fleet to all-eMAX-configured apparatus. He added that because E-ONE builds aluminum bodies, he is planning to re-chassis apparatus as the cabs and chassis wear out. “We’ve had (E-ONE) Hushes for a long time,” Stearns said, “but the new eMAX is three feet shorter and much more maneuverable, while still carrying everything we need.”

And that was the whole purpose behind the eMAX design, which was launched in 2011, said Product Manager Hedges.

“We recognized the fire service roles are changing,” Hedges said. “We know firefighters don’t need the five-foot-long pump panel any longer. They need shorter apparatus that are more maneuverable while still having enough space for all the equipment.”

Grady North, E-ONE’s product manager for pumpers, said configurations like eMAX just make sense these days.

“Fire departments are fighting actual fires maybe 5% of the time and 95% of the time they’re doing something else,” North said. “Yet they’ll devote 50% or more of the apparatus body to firefighting.”

With the new eMAX design, firefighters can get Class A pumpers for the instances when they are needed, Hedges said, noting the apparatus can be configured with 1,250- and 1,500-gpm E-ONE proprietary-designed pumps that offer pump-and-roll capabilities. The new pump location also means bodies can be built to provide up to 586 cubic feet of storage space.

“Right now, we feel 1,500 gpm is the sweet spot for these apparatus,” Hedges said, adding the design is capable of accommodating compressed air foam systems (CAFS), direct-injection foam systems or eductor systems that are deployed at the scene.

One benefit of the eMAX configuration is the scalability of design, with more or less compartment space as needed and wheelbases kept to a minimum to meet urban/wildland interface needs. “We can build on super-short chassis,” North said. “And we can build on custom or commercial cabs and chassis. It all depends on the budget.”

As of now, the eMAX configuration can be built on an E-ONE custom cab and chassis or on International or Freightliner commercial cabs and chassis. Among other features are 530- to 1,030-gallon polypropylene tanks, wheelbases as low as 162 inches and multiplex electrical systems. The custom apparatus are powered by MaxxForce engines that are designed to meet 2013 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions standards and are available in ratings up to 350 hp.

For Haraway, it’s a winning combination. “I am definitely sold,” the Apex chief said, noting he ordered a second eMAX pumper in mid-July. “In this economy, when staff sizes are being reduced, it just makes sense to consolidate apparatus.”