The Apparatus Architect

For some time, The Apparatus Architect articles have discussed the importance of defining the mission of the apparatus prior to the development of specifications and meetings with manufacturer’s representatives.Beyond the importance of justifying the...


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For some time, The Apparatus Architect articles have discussed the importance of defining the mission of the apparatus prior to the development of specifications and meetings with manufacturer’s representatives.Beyond the importance of justifying the financial expense for any new apparatus, a fire department must ensure that the final product when delivered and placed into service will meet the operational needs of the fire department and not just simply be the new pumper to replace the oldest unit in the fleet. This article will review several examples that highlight fire departments that focused on designing practical and efficient pieces of apparatus that would enhance the safety and support their operational needs.

At times, it is admittedly difficult to embrace all of the missions that a department must provide while focusing on the most important one of being able to effectively combat any type of structural fire. As many agencies provide a multitude of services including technical rescue, hazardous material mitigation and EMS responses, our basic mission is to provide fire protection and at least some of our apparatus must be designed to meet this need.

 

Meeting local needs

In Prince George’s County, MD, several departments have recently placed new apparatus into service to meet the needs of their response districts. In Fort Washington, Allentown Road Station 32, under the direction of Chief Nick Finamore, operates a short wheelbase Spartan/Crimson pumper with an overall length of 27 feet, six inches. Engine 823 was designed to operate in tight areas and is equipped with a 1,500-gpm pump and 500-gallon water tank. The rear hosebed is just 58 inches from the ground with four attack lines at 1¾, two and 2½ inches. The new apparatus enhanced Station 32’s engine company operations and proves that units do not have to be large in size to provide good service to the community.

The College Park Volunteer Fire Department operates as Station 12 in Prince George’s County and protects the University of Maryland campus with numerous high-rise buildings. Chief Bill Corrigan oversees the department’s fleet of two engines, a foam unit, a ladder truck and two ambulances that responded to 4,073 incidents in 2011. Engine 122 is a 2012 Pierce Arrow XT 2,000-gpm pumper that was designed by the department’s apparatus committee to meet the unique needs of its first-due area. The engine is built with a 174½-inch wheelbase with an L-shaped, 500-gallon water tank. The major attack lines come off the rear of the apparatus with a bumper mounted attack line and trash line provided at the left side pump panel. The high-rise packs are carried above the right-side body compartments, which allows personnel to safely deploy them without having to use steps or running boards. Additional safety items include a windshield down-view mirror, backup camera and reinforced stainless-steel bumper.

 

Busy squad unit

For a number of years, Rescue Squad 27 from the Morningside Volunteer Fire Department has been one of the busiest squads in Prince George’s County, responding to more than 2,000 incidents each year. The station in the past had also operated with two engines that account for another 1,200-plus runs. With this in mind, the members set out to design a rescue engine that could operate as a backup to the rescue squad and provide engine company service when required.

Rescue Engine 27 was built by CustomFIRE Apparatus on a Spartan Gladiator chassis after many hours of specification development and work by Captain Mike Poetker with the station’s apparatus committee. The rescue engine was built on a 199-inch wheelbase, overall length of 33 feet and height of 116 inches. The stainless steel body has full-depth compartments on both sides with the ground ladders stored under the hosebed. Using an L-shaped, 500-gallon water tank, the hosebed is 66 inches from the ground with six pre-connected handlines in three different locations. The tool and equipment mounting was done by CustomFIRE to maximize the available space inside the cab and body.

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