1. #1
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    Default Bigger v. Smaller

    At FRI last weekend, according to an article published on Firehouse.Com, Dr. Stefan Svensson - a Swedish firefighter & research and development engineer - said, "the nation's apparatus which he claimed is getting bigger while all of Europe is going with smaller and smaller apparatus that are smarter and smarter."

    How do you feel about this assessment? With more than 70% of runs today involving EMS in the United States, is the European theory of smaller, better packaged apparatus that maneuver much more easily and which address 99% of the calls practical in the United States?

    In today's economic environment, as well as the environment in which the focus of the fire service has shifted, does it make more sense to think smarter about apparatus?

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    1. Have you ever seen the inside of a European fire station's apparatus floor? They are huge, and for a reason- Because they have about 30 pieces of apparatus inside each firehouse, because they are all tiny little things and they need 30 of them to carry what we do on 3 pieces of apparatus.

    2. Streets in most European cities are extremely tight, hence another reason for the tiny pieces of apparatus. Our streets- bigger that are friendlier to our apparatus. Granted inner cities of course are tighter, but you get the idea.

    3. This swedish guy is an idiot of infinite proportions. He wouldnt know a fire if someone doused his azz with gasoline and lit it off.
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    I would have to guess their lawyers are not as sue happy either or they could have some common sense rules and regulations.....nahh doubt it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TruckFan View Post
    At FRI last weekend, according to an article published on Firehouse.Com, Dr. Stefan Svensson - a Swedish firefighter & research and development engineer - said, "the nation's apparatus which he claimed is getting bigger while all of Europe is going with smaller and smaller apparatus that are smarter and smarter."

    How do you feel about this assessment? With more than 70% of runs today involving EMS in the United States, is the European theory of smaller, better packaged apparatus that maneuver much more easily and which address 99% of the calls practical in the United States?

    In today's economic environment, as well as the environment in which the focus of the fire service has shifted, does it make more sense to think smarter about apparatus?
    I think there's a fair bit of truth to the claim of apparatus getting bigger in the US. Looking at "new delivery" pictures on-line or in magazines and at fire expos, I've seen a lot of "large" apparatus. However, there's also been a good number of smaller sized units too - including the engine I work on (28' OAL, 165" WB).

    I don't think you can simply look at a bunch of apparatus and determine that overall our apparatus is too large. You have to really look much closer and almost down to the individual department to truly make that conclusion.

    Two of the largest forces driving our current apparatus size is economics and manpower (as in lack of both). In the past, many departments had the money and the manpower to be able to acquire and staff more "single use" apparatus. Now as budgets continue to get tighter and available manpower drops (layoffs and less volunteers), many departments are attempting to streamline their operations and creating "multi-use" apparatus and attempting to put the equipment of 2 or 3 units onto just 1 large unit.

    If that's the case, as long as the unit can still get where it needs to get in the response area and be functional, then so be it.

    Now, I've also seen some departments with some rather large apparatus that probably could have been, at worst, equally served by a more compact unit.

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    FWD is right about the Euro fire depts. They have small rigs out of nesecity.
    As far as american rigs being bigger, thats true too. There are a few reasons as to why our rigs are getting bigger. From the want for more leg and head room in the cab, to all of the extra EPA/Emmissions crap that MFG's have to put on the rigs & the need for more airflow to keep the engines cooler because of the emmissions crap....to name a few.
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    You also have to allow for differences due to construction methods and materials, as well as tactics.

    Most European cities are hundreds of years old. FWD was 100% right in his assessment- those places were old long before the internal combustion engine was invented. Additionally, as well as size and handling concerns, they use a lot more stone, brick and concrete than we do, and buildings are typically smaller and tighter.

    We need big pumps, big hose, and big tanks, because of our reliance on wooden and lightweight steel construction. Not to mention the vast amount of combustable crap we stuff into them. There's a reason we discarded the use of booster type lines for attack lines, and why those accross the pond have great success using that same type of line and flow. Using a small pump and a booster line to attack a fire in a super wally world, or an east coast brownstone or triple decker would likely get somebody killed. The same thing in a euro-stlye stone or concrete building with smaller rooms would probably be sufficient, using the current 3d fog tactics.

    They design rigs to face the fires and other calls they respond to and we do the same. I still can't stand the sound of their two note high/low horn/sirens... lol I'll take my Federal Q any day.

    This also means we carry a lot of gear they may not- our fires tend to spread easily throughout the building, meaning a lot more work ventilating, overhauling and searching.

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    to all of the extra EPA/Emmissions crap that MFG's have to put on the rigs & the need for more airflow to keep the engines cooler because of the emmissions crap
    I believe they have had the extra emission stuff much longer then we have. DEF has been common over there for a while.

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    Oh,THAT'S where that schit came from. T.C.

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    On our last engine, I tried REALLY hard to keep the engine small... then reality hits.

    We have almost no hydrants, so we need at least 750-1000 gal of water. Need a big pump, takes up a lot of real estate. Want to carry 8 guys? Extends the cab... no more jump seats, all enclosed.

    You start adding in all the features you need (not just want) and the truck gets longer and longer... Throw in how strongly these vehicles are made, the safety features, etc.. and that adds size as well.

    You tell me right now that MACK will build me another 1984 CF and I'm a buyer! However, those days are mostly gone.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    Oh,THAT'S where that schit came from. T.C.
    Yeah, THANKS Europe... ya tossers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    On our last engine, I tried REALLY hard to keep the engine small... then reality hits.

    We have almost no hydrants, so we need at least 750-1000 gal of water. Need a big pump, takes up a lot of real estate. Want to carry 8 guys? Extends the cab... no more jump seats, all enclosed.

    You start adding in all the features you need (not just want) and the truck gets longer and longer... Throw in how strongly these vehicles are made, the safety features, etc.. and that adds size as well.

    You tell me right now that MACK will build me another 1984 CF and I'm a buyer! However, those days are mostly gone.
    You got it, Chief. 1000 gal of water, a big hosebed full of 5" for those long driveways and commercial structures, a pump large enough to supply a good size fire attack from draft; Truck gear for those fires the ladder can't even get near, etc etc- it adds up quick! Start adding stuff like enclosed ladder and suction storage, and your "compact" attack engine isn't so compact any more... We were able to shorten the wheelbase and overall length on our 4Guys pumper considerably vs the Pemfab/Sanford one it replaced, but the body and cab are definitely bigger.

    At least the guys in the back don't have to ride in the rain, snow, slush, and sleet any more. This one is also stainless steel, so it won't need refubishing every few years to repair the body rot...

    Don't get me wrong, I loved that old engine- it was a beast! I just like this one more.

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    A NEW Mack CF? SIGN ME UP!!!

    Our Mack CF is a 1974 and is just about to be replaced. We bought it used and it has served us well for around 14 years. The truth is NO ONE builds a tough, reliable, long lasting rig like that anymore.
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    He's right that our apparatus are getting bigger and bigger, but I don't think we need to switch to euro-style apparatus. I think we need to be smarter about what we want to carry. I've seen a lot of crap on fire trucks that barely ever comes off, along with the need to enclose every item makes these trucks grow. We could definitely be smarter about how we design apparatus.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nameless View Post
    He's right that our apparatus are getting bigger and bigger, but I don't think we need to switch to euro-style apparatus. I think we need to be smarter about what we want to carry. I've seen a lot of crap on fire trucks that barely ever comes off, along with the need to enclose every item makes these trucks grow. We could definitely be smarter about how we design apparatus.
    I agree. There's got to be a better way to keep those bulky, but rarely used items handy, without filling up front line rigs. As well, we should take a hard look at what tools we NEED to have, and how best to carry them.

    A few random thoughts:

    - perhaps a refurbed rig could be used for say, hazmat supplies, water rescue gear ( the main cache, it could also tow a boat if you own one), or trench/ collapse materials and the tools to fabricate.

    - Trailers. Along the same lines as the modular/roll off system used with a single truck chassis.

    - those with a regional/ local specialized team available might not need to carry more than a minimum of basics.

    - preconnect whatever you can, and store stuff at the point of use.

    We did a good job of freeing up cmpt space when we went to enclosed cabs with SCBA seats, wheelwell storage for spare cylinders, and in cab mounted tools. Sadly, those empty compartments just collected more stuff...

    - if you rarely use class B foam, do you need it on EVERY rig?


    The enclosed stuff makes more sense to me- born and raised in the Northeast, with crappy winter weather, roadsalt galore, and tree limbs just waiting to clean the stuff off the outside of your truck- or jam it up. It also became a safety and expediency issue- keeping bulky, heavy items low to avoid injuries and speed up deployment. ( ground ladders, suction hoses and drop tanks come to mind.) Nothing like watching the chinese fire drill that ensues when you need to set up a draft or use the deck gun in portable mode...

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    I'm from the northeast also, and never had an issue with our ladders or other tools being stored on the side of the rig. We have ladders that have seen many winters on the side of an engine with no issue. I don't even know what to say about taking the deck gun or hard suction off the rig, that shouldn't be difficult at all.


    I've seen some real excess, rigs with hydraulic tools at the front and back or the left and right side. They claim its so they can work off whatever side is closest to the wrecked car or whatever they have. I understand having the hydraulic connections on both sides, but why two full sets of tools?

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    One of the best ideas to come out of Europe is the use of Roll-On/Roll-Off Pods for things like haz-mat, confined space, technical rescue, LDH and even tanker or brush pods for departments that use these speciality resources in frequently. Another option would be an increased use of trailers.

    I would suspect that even firefighting pods could be developed.

    While there may be some slight increase in response time as the pods would have to be loaded or trailers connected, the costs savings would be significant.

    As far as equipment, some of this is dictated by ISO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nozzle nut 22 View Post
    I agree. There's got to be a better way to keep those bulky, but rarely used items handy, without filling up front line rigs. As well, we should take a hard look at what tools we NEED to have, and how best to carry them.

    A few random thoughts:

    - perhaps a refurbed rig could be used for say, hazmat supplies, water rescue gear ( the main cache, it could also tow a boat if you own one), or trench/ collapse materials and the tools to fabricate.

    - Trailers. Along the same lines as the modular/roll off system used with a single truck chassis.

    - those with a regional/ local specialized team available might not need to carry more than a minimum of basics.

    - preconnect whatever you can, and store stuff at the point of use.

    We did a good job of freeing up cmpt space when we went to enclosed cabs with SCBA seats, wheelwell storage for spare cylinders, and in cab mounted tools. Sadly, those empty compartments just collected more stuff...

    - if you rarely use class B foam, do you need it on EVERY rig?


    The enclosed stuff makes more sense to me- born and raised in the Northeast, with crappy winter weather, roadsalt galore, and tree limbs just waiting to clean the stuff off the outside of your truck- or jam it up. It also became a safety and expediency issue- keeping bulky, heavy items low to avoid injuries and speed up deployment. ( ground ladders, suction hoses and drop tanks come to mind.) Nothing like watching the chinese fire drill that ensues when you need to set up a draft or use the deck gun in portable mode...
    Far too much of this makes sense to me. Our last engine purchase saw the inside storage of ground ladders at a more usable retrieval height, the elimination of a class B foam system that never gets used (two other engines are so equipped), no suction hose carried as the engine is our in-town attack piece and will not see a draft except for annual testing, all items to be used in a hurry are at the point of use, haz-mat, forestry, high angle gear is stored up above and we got rid of the hard mounted deck pipe in favor of the gun stored low and portable and added a pre-connected 3" Mercury monitor as well. Of coruse, in the end we carry more than we did before so the truck is still larger than we'd prefer, but we're still very pleased.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    1. Have you ever seen the inside of a European fire station's apparatus floor? They are huge, and for a reason- Because they have about 30 pieces of apparatus inside each firehouse, because they are all tiny little things and they need 30 of them to carry what we do on 3 pieces of apparatus.

    2. Streets in most European cities are extremely tight, hence another reason for the tiny pieces of apparatus. Our streets- bigger that are friendlier to our apparatus. Granted inner cities of course are tighter, but you get the idea.

    3. This swedish guy is an idiot of infinite proportions. He wouldnt know a fire if someone doused his azz with gasoline and lit it off.
    I agree to all of the above. Especially 1 and 2. Their is nothing wrong with a large rig if it's laid out properly. You get everything you need delivered in one piece of equipment. Nothing wrong with that. Sure, it has limitations in places with very small streets, but that is actually less common then the reverse.

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    Default Bigger Vs Smaller

    I agree with most of what has been said. I feel that their is one item that needs to be taken into consideration that has not been addressed regarding "Bigger Vs Smaller". Considering the economy such as it is and will probably be that way for a number of years. The bigger the apparatus gets the "COST" of it tends to become overwhelming. It is no secret that the cost of a custom chassis Vs a commerical raises the overall cost of the apparatus to between 400,000 to 500,000 thousand dollars. Perhaps we may need to look at designing an apparatus using a commerical chassis. After all there are a large number of commerical fire apparatus that leave the station, arrive at the incident, perform what it is designed to do and return back to its station. It would be very interesting to see what the firefighter's ingenuity is in developing this type of apparatus. Consideration should be given to providing room for five (5) firefighters along with all of the necessary equipment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nameless View Post
    I'm from the northeast also, and never had an issue with our ladders or other tools being stored on the side of the rig. We have ladders that have seen many winters on the side of an engine with no issue. I don't even know what to say about taking the deck gun or hard suction off the rig, that shouldn't be difficult at all.


    I've seen some real excess, rigs with hydraulic tools at the front and back or the left and right side. They claim its so they can work off whatever side is closest to the wrecked car or whatever they have. I understand having the hydraulic connections on both sides, but why two full sets of tools?
    I was mostly thinking of hunks of tree limb caught up in the ladder ( we have some narrow as heck, overgrown drives around here.), or a nice thick coat of half frozen slush or a frozen lanyard. Not a huge deal, but it costs time if you need that ladder to make a rescue. It's also nice to have those 3 section 35's at a comfortable height.

    The other point was just that some suctions are stored waayyy up high, with the strainer in one compt, and the mallet in another. Same for the Stang gun. It's a pita to have to climb up top to grab it, have someone else to hand it down to, and another to dig all the extras out. For depts who don't draft much, or whose pumper-tanker is nosebleed high, it really is like a chinese fire drill.

    I agree with your other point. I'm thinking it's for the preconnected ease of use.

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