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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The Reading, MA, Fire Department set out to replace its aging rear-mount ladder truck. After evaluating its responses, the department acquired a Seagrave Marauder II 100-foot rear-mount ladder equipped with a 500-gpm pump and 300-gallon water tank. The department, under the command of Chief Greg Burns, operates two engines, a ladder truck and a medic unit from two stations with on-duty personnel. The ladder truck was designed to be able to provide an initial-attack line at structure fires if the unit would be the first to arrive as well as for a protection line at vehicle accidents.

The Seagrave aerial ladder was built on a 225-inch wheelbase with a stainless-steel cab and body. The pre-piped waterway is fed from the rear of the unit with smooth-bore tips attached to the ladder pipe. Captain Phil Boisvert and his group worked to develop specifications to replace both engines and the aerial ladder to provide standardized tool, equipment and hose loads on each apparatus.

 

Multi-function apparatus

The history of the Smithfield, VA, Volunteer Fire Department can be traced to 1939, when local residents discussed the need for community fire protection. Today, the department is guided by Chief Jason Stallings and operates three engines, a tower ladder, a rescue squad and a brush unit from Station 50 in Isle of Wight County. The department had outgrown its walk-in rescue truck on a commercial chassis and sought to replace this with a multi-function apparatus, as Smithfield protects a large portion of the county for technical rescue and rapid intervention team duties.

Rescue 50 was built by Seagrave with a 24-foot stainless-steel body equipped with a 500-gpm pump, 300-gallon water tank, 30-kilowatt hydraulic generator, air cascade system and 83 feet of ground ladders. The upper-body compartments are accessed by a pull-down ladder with full handrails. The steel-reinforced front bumper is equipped with a 15,000-pound-rated winch, trash line and rope tie-offs with a 9,000-pound portable winch provided for use at each side and rear of the body.

Combination rescue apparatus can be difficult to design as there are typically many more pieces of equipment that would be nice to have on the apparatus than there is available space to make things easy and safe to access without overloading the unit or making it so large that the squad is difficult to maneuver. The Smithfield Fire Department took many operational aspects into consideration before finalizing the design of its new rescue squad.

 

Smoothing the process

In today’s difficult financial climate, it is more important than ever to be able to specify apparatus that will meet the needs of the response area while enhancing the safety and operation of the vehicle. Designing apparatus that will serve the department and community into the future with a developed apparatus-replacement program will make the procurement process go along smoothly. n