Ballam: A Fire Truck Committee Is Born

A truck committee has been formed and the firefighters who will serve on it will sift through all the wants and needs and balance it with budgetary limits.

As our day-time response crew diminishes, seemingly yearly, we’ve recognized the need to have apparatus that will carry a significant amount of water for initial attacks as the chances of rolling either of our tankers simultaneously with the engine, with full crews, is slim to none.

From that foundation, our committee will be looking at other important aspects, like number of persons in the cab, top- or side-mount pump panels, or something completely different. At one of the trade shows last year, I saw a completely electronic pump panel that was stowed in a compartment in the middle of the apparatus. That was pretty neat and saved a lot of compartment space. As the mission of fire apparatus evolves, less fires and more of everything else, it might make sense to think about reducing the space devoted to pumping.

One member of our committee, who is an elementary school principal and a heck of a firefighter with lots of experience, readily admits he knows virtually nothing about the truck specifications, like engine sizes, weight and gear ratios and the related mechanical things. We have other guys on the committee who know that kind of stuff, but I’d rather leave that stuff to the engineers who will be designing what we will ultimately be purchasing. They’ve got the computers and the brains to put that stuff together and I see no reason not to use them. We know enough about apparatus and trucks to know if they’re way off, which I seriously doubt would ever happen. After all, they want to stay in business. Years ago, I heard the late Bob Barraclough, a renowned apparatus guru, say “it’s hard to hide a bad fire truck. Fire chief’s talk to each other a lot.” And I know that to be true.

I’d also like to think about ways to keep people off the top of the apparatus. Hydraulic ladder racks, remote controlled deck guns, lower hose beds, through-the-tank ladder compartments, fold down steps built into compartment doors all help keep firefighters closer to terra firma and, therefore, safer.

There will be lots for our committee to talk about and lots of research to be done. I’ll keep posting progress as we continue.

It’s going to be fun.