1. #1
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    Post Are ladder trucks with fire pumps killing ladder company operations?

    It is my belief that ladder companies are quite often trying to play catch up on the fire ground. Quite often this is because we can’t get to the scene as fast as an engine (since there are less ladder companies) or because there are not enough truckies on scene to make truck work as quick as stretching a line.

    So when a ladder has the luxury of arriving ahead of the engine (I’m not talking several minutes ahead either), why do so many ladder officers want to start stretching lines? It may be because we have too many people in the fire service who believe that if you are not on the nozzle you are not a real firefighter. This has happened for so long that that these same people are now being promoted and instilling this attitude into their new guys. This is a viscous cycle and whether or not you believe it the proof is in the lack of truck work being performed on so many firegrounds nation wide.

    The fact is we seldom get the best position on the fireground, between engines, chief’s cars and on street parking by the public. We rarely get the chance to set up for ventilation or forcible entry prior to the first line being stretched. To make things worse, when a ladder company decides to perform engine functions, truck work gets delayed even longer or worse, does not happen at all. So should we leave fire pumps for engine companies or is it possible to get the nozzle jockey mentality out of our ladder companies?

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    I believe you are right. A dept. with good S.O.G.'should leave room for the ladder. The truck officer on scene should size up the building to see if venting is needed at that moment or if it can be done as you are doing an attack. More and more I see ladder and engine company's not laddering the building. This dangerous, if a vent crew or attack team needs to<br />bale out.

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    Ladderwork is fast becoming a lost art. If you are on a big city dept or an active volly dept and you have luxury of having 4 or more ff's on the truck it can get done. However any less than that everyone has to learn to operate independently on all functions of truck co. ops.<br />Add a pump and even minimal truck ops become neglected. Today we are seeing less gound ladder<br />placement, outside ventilation, and search being done. If the members of the truck co. are given the task of stretching lines and pumping a fire without calling for another ladder, than the whole operation can probably be written off
    "I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we know the work which a fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

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    the7tuwer

    You could try using this forum for something constructive. Instead of trying to pick apart every typed word, be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

    Some of us look at the fire service as a whole and not just at our own department.

    [ 01-13-2002: Message edited by: Truckman ]</p>

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    the7tuwer, it is becoming more apparent to me that everytime you reply you make a complete a** of yourself! What is your problem with union ff's?<br />Jealousy? To let you know I was a volly for 5 yrs<br />prior to my appointment. I am still active socially and do trainings for them. I do not have a complex about, In am no better than them because I get a paycheck. In that town (4 sepearate depts) one runs a 75 ft quint with 200 gal and 1500 gpm. This is first out for them but guess what? Their first and second due districts are unhydranted! How far does 200 gal go? About 3 min max maybe. I have seen quite a few fires where they were commited to pumping and a.ran out of water with 2nd due 10 min away, b.parked too far out to make any use of the aerial c.manpower not utilizing an equal amount of engine and ladderwork ie: two lines off instead of one crew<br />with a line and the other doing ladder work. What happens? You lose the buildings! NOT COOL!<br />In reply to union FDs against the Quint concept.<br />We have to protect our livlihood just the way that you may have to protect yours (whatever that maybe). Combining companies that are manpower rich ie:6 on a quint vs 3 on an engine and 3 or 4 on a ladder doesn't last long once the bean counters realize that they can reduce it to the level that was once on the separate co's. A nearby career dept to mine has bought 4 quints 2 to be assigned to engines and 2 assigned to ladders. The writing is on the wall and eventually this will lead combination with the other 3 standard engines reduction of manpower. And to your reply that we replace the paid ff's with vollys it isn't feasible most of the people who live in both my paid city and the volly town wouldn't consider vollying. Why? Attitude is they pay their taxes when they call 911 they want a fire truck or ambulance there period. Most people are too busy to commit. What doctor or lawyer wants to work all day till 8pm and go hang around a fire house after that, not many. So instead of knocking paid guys and attacking my livelihood try to be part of the solution and realize that <br />comparing career and volunteer staffing is like <br />comparing apples to oranges.
    "I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we know the work which a fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

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    I really doubt this is a hardware problem. It should be entitled "Are Officers and freelancing firefighters that don't understand fire attack killing ladder company operations" If your department has strong SOP's that support a comprehensive fire attack, then the truck work will get done. We run a quint first out on all structure fires in our first due and several surrounding ones. The SOP is simple, if you arrive sufficiently ahead of the engine you can stretch a line and your riding assignments switch from truck to engine (ie, you were force, now your nozzle). The next in engine switches from engine to truck. It works very well, we do it in a majority volunteer system and its not a problem. An interesting point is our guys would rather be the truck. They like having the quint because it gets us out the door first (many Chiefs are worried about anything arriving first with no water), but on location they would do most anything than stretch a line. The truck we have ordered and are waiting on now is designed for several crews to operate off of and is based on our experiences with our older quint.

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    Puffy,

    Good points.. but they are problems with poorly designed rigs.. not enough water, etc.. and poor use of them (parking too far away).

    I completely understand the union firefighters concern when the rigs are looked at for consolidating or reducing companies. They are much more versatile pieces, but without the right manning, useless. A big problem that I have heard from several cities where one or more quints were dropped into a engine/truck system is that it was done with no planning or training. What a waste of money not to figure out how it will be used and tell the men before you get it!.. virtually guarantees a negative reception.

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    Interesting question, although the original question seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle here. I don't believe that quints are killing the ladder company ofperations. The purpose of the quint is to allow versatility of apparatus for departments that either don't have personnel, funds, or need for a ladder with no flow capability. The other side of this is that if our training is geared towards versatility, why cannot a FF function on a truck as well as a pumper. Cross training is common, although there seem to be a few that still believe that a FF on a pumper can't swing an axe, or make a rescue. In the largest of settings where units are running fires back to back for 12 or 24 hours and their system is set up for this, more power to them. But then how many stations in the country run that kind of volume? Part of the problem here is Smaller dept. that want to play like the inner city, heavy run houses but don't have the call volume, or experience to back it all up.

    For those people I would have to say (IMHO), Believe it or not, you don't have to have a ladder set up, or a specific "Truckie" company on every working fire. Yes, forcible entry, search, overhaul, and truck work must be done. For us normal operations, typical size departments, these jobs can be done by Quint companies, engine companies, squads,, who gives a sH**? As long as the work gets done, the fire goes out, and everyone goes home safe does it matter?? We need to keep in mind that the emphasis should be on what is best for the area that we work in. If you have the people, and resources, and call volume to justify a true blue Old School Truckie company then use it. I have seen a quint come into a large inner city department, and run as a truck company with no water, no hose, with axes strapped to the valve handles at the pump panel, strictly due to the fact that they were a ladder and they felt that to use it as a quint was a danger to their jobs. Now (IMHO) that was possibly the shortest and most concentrated line of bullsh** that I've ever heard. I'm a union member like any else, but my job is to protect the persons living in my response area, and part of that protection SHOULD be that we as a Dept. spend THEIR money as efficiently, and as appropriatly as we can. That is what builds trust, not gouging the citizens for every Friggin' cent we can muster to make our bargaining power stronger! <img src="mad.gif" border="0">

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    Let me clarify this, the "super quint" I was refering to was not in the same volly house that I was a member of. It was a different company in the same town and I nor my company have any role in specing or training with this piece of crap. This is the discretion of their chief and their company and if the7tuwer had read carefully he would have understood this. I train the people I train on realistic situations and procedures. To suggest that we are all freelancers is wrong. In the volly house there are variations due to the district (my volly house is very disciplined!!)<br />My career dept is very disciplined, very tactically sound and it is apparent that a certain person roled my previous post into what he<br />wanted, an attack from an "expert". One of the hallmarks of good ladder crew is the ability to operate independently yet performing tasks yet within the realm of a sharp officer who knows who is where and who is doing what.
    "I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we know the work which a fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

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    When someone talks about ladder company operations you have to talk about manpower,not the type of apparatus. If ladder company operations are not being accomplished it's because not enough firefighters are being assigned to this task. True truck and engine company tactics cannot be accomplished simultaneously by the first arriving company even with 3 firefighters and a officer. One evolution or the other will have to suffer in a fire on a floor of say a 2 1/2 story frame.

    That is why apparatus specifications should meet your department needs not someone else. Unfortunately,many departments spec out their apparatus to standout and be the best looking rig,but no thought is really given into making the apparatus firefighter friendly. Equipment should be purchased to assist firefighters in doing their job. Firefighters put out fires not equipment. When a department tries to write a specification for apparatus to handle all different situations they usually end up with something that has hose and equipment 7' in the air.

    But if your city or town is not diversified enough that your department can handle each district with one type of apparatus I say go for it. Remember you need enough firefighters to put out the fire,not the do all apparatus.

  11. #11
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    No, quints aren't killing truck work.

    Tunnel vision might be, but not quints.

    The great majority of this nation doesn't have the density of companies that some of the major northeastern cities known for their truck work do. I'd dare say that New York and Boston pack into the area most departments cover with one station their entire first alarm assignment. The speed and consistency those departments can deliver dedicated truck companies does affect the tactics you can use.

    In most fires, in most buildings, most of the time the single most effective action that can be taken for life safety is placing a line in operation -- first to defend the interior stairs, and if that's accomplished to attack the fire. Fire goes out, no more life hazard. It's not surprising most officers most of the time if they have water but don't have another engine coming in on their tail will want to put water on the fire. Sometimes the life hazard is so great you try to go ahead of the line -- but the risk is great also -- remember Keokuk where the fire flashed on an engine crew that was attempting a rescue ahead of a line being in operation.

    If truck work is being neglected, it's for the same tunnel vision why you see a heavily involved commercial building...with the 1.75" line deployed. Crews that always train to pull 1.75" and always pull 1.75" lines on fires perform as trained at the big one -- they pull a 1.75".

    If your firefighters are always doing engine work and never truck work...well, one of two things is happening: They're never training, practicing, and doing truck work...or the Chief keeps forgetting to assign them to do truck work.

    While there is "engine-work" and "truck-work," it's wrong to think of firefighters as hosemen or truckmen. We're firefighters, and should be able to handle whatever the task at hand is. Few departments have the luxury of dedicated companies -- if your on a quint and arrive first, put water on the fire. If you're an engine and arrive behind the quint, you grab tools off the quint and start being truckies. If you're on a later arriving truck and the Chief tells you to bring another big line up to meet the engine crew, you do that. No excuses folks -- laying out who does what by order of arrival is an easy SOP to write. It doesn't take long or cost much money to cross-train personnel assigned to an engine about the truck, and vice-versa.

    As for "Quints cost manpower" I sympathize, but the bottom line in most cases the City is going to do the cutbacks anyways. I'm sure most of us would love to see every station have a two-piece engine company, a six-man truck, and heck why not a 2 man Emergency mini-pumper to run the medicals while the fire crews are waiting the big one. Reality is far different, and quints often offer a compromise between function and cost that's effective.
    IACOJ Canine Officer
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    Thank You for the well thought out responses. Now that I’ve gotten your attention;

    We all know that the effectiveness of a ladder co. is a result of the people who ride it, not the rig. Also having enough firefighters on the scene to perform those necessary functions is crucial. The fact remains that getting these tasks done is a problem for most (not all) city and rural fire departments. Speaking specifically in NC, I can say for a fact, that many of the department statistics on staffing that you read in firehouse magazine are window dressing. I also believe that there is a general attitude that hoselines and PPV are all you need for a successful operation. I am fortunate that in Charlotte we have good staffing and quite a few dedicated "truckies" that believe in doing the job.

    When speaking of the rig that they are riding, I am not addressing department SOPs’, freelancing or anything of the sort. I am talking of the psychological aspect of the officer and crew. So going back to my question, let me change it to, “Does it contribute to the problem?” When talking to firefighters from departments, who have gone to the total quint concept, I have been told that they have seen a decline in their truck work.

    I don’t have the answer to this question. That is why I brought it up. I do feel that if you do your job the way you are suppose to, the rig you ride should not matter. However, no matter how well you define the roles of the specific unit, you still have to have quality people who know those roles and want to do them.

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    Truck.. from where I'm sitting, the pump being on the truck just gives me another tool. If i'm first in with it and an engine is close by, we do truck work. If i am going to be on my own for awhile I can attack the fire. Again it comes down to making sure that someone is doing the truck work. We have riding assignments for Engine, Truck and "Quint in Service" which basically swaps the duties of the first due truck and engine. Our guys take pride in being a truck company and really would rather force entry and search than stretch a line. Maybe its just an overall difference in philosophy. PPV is rarely used in this area for anything other than clearing smoke after a fire. This is a suburban area, but most fires still get a truck at least 2nd or 3rd due.

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    Exclamation

    Maybe this is a bit off cue but I would imagine that having a quint at your disposal would be beneficial for two reasons. 1.It has been said that it is useless if it's first on the scene but from what I learned in "probie" school your not going to vent without water and 2.if you can use the 200 gallons to knock down a fire where peoples lives can be saved in the time it takes for a dedicated water supply to be established...then doesn't it make sense to utilize this??

    What it seems to be is that departments are buying apparatus that either they don't need or they are not training properly. Maybe they don't understand the functionality of the apparatus.

    SOP's and good fireground leadership is vital to accomplishing our goals. Poor is a craftsman who blames his tools. If the leadership is not qualified and not willing to look at other options then it's time to change the leaderships thinking. Chief's shouldn't be near the fire scene to begin with. It occludes their view of the scene and engines should be giving the truck companies the room they need. I agree that the engine/truck seperation is disappearing as companies are being cut back and members quit in the case of volunteer ranks. We need to have the cross training and cooperation of all firefighters on the scene.

    Oh and in the case of most surburban settings...most every engine I have ever seen carries at least a 24' ladder a 14' roof ladder and some even have 35' ladders. This is a great advantage as an engine can accomplish almost all fireground operations. Just a thought...
    Jeffrey D. Grey-Lieutenant
    Roosevelt Fire District-Hyde Park,N.Y.

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    I dont believe that quints are the sole purpose for the loss of truck work, but I would have to say in some places a quint is a contributing factor.

    Answer this, at what time is salvage work to be performed during a fire? From the very beginning correct. So most people are carrying tarps on their quints, and also engines and trucks, but is salvage getting done at the appropriate time? Now if there was still such a thing as a salvage company, what would they do on arrival, Salvage.

    It is not equipment that is hurting or basic fire operations, it is the lack of proper staffing to perform the necessary job functions on the fireground. We continue to accept what political figures have dealt us with staffing cuts, or accept low staffing as volunteers, because we are afraid to go to leaders and demand staffing help.

    Its like the cure all "escape rope", put a rope in your pocket, instead of having the building covered with ladders. The quint can be a good piece of apparatus, but im afraid the majority of the fire service has accepted it as a panacea for staffing problems.

    Get people on the fireground, they are the key, more than any apparatus configuration.

    Be safe

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    To all,

    Some very interesting replies and now to add my two cents.

    I began my "career" in the late sixties as an Auxiliary with a busy truck company in Brooklyn, New York (Ladder 132) and am now a Captain in a volunteer department North of Houston, Texas. I am a TRUCKIE (no apologies !!!).

    What the problem regarding lack of truck work is NOT pumps on quints but rather a lack of emphasis.

    My department regularly includes "truck ops" in its training curriculum. The Guys "love" truck ops classes. However, get to a fire and they all start the "I gotta have the nob" syndrome. "If I ain't got the nozzle, I ain't fighting fire" and "If I ain't got the nozzle, I ain't doin' nothin'else".

    The prevailing "local attitude" towards ladder companies is "When the stick goes up, the building comes down" (i.e. a defensive tool only) or "Trucks are for salvage only".

    Our chief doesn't help the situation either. Our "ladder truck" is a 65 ft telesqurt and it is assigned on the initial alarm for commericial "boxes" only. It is nor scheduled to roll to a house fire until the second alarm. You tell me, how effective is that.

    Truck work is an attitude. It does not matter what the apparatus has on it (pumps, towers aerials, etc.). If you have the truckie "frame of mind", any piece of equipment can be used for truck work.

    Sadly, good truck work is becoming a thing of the past. In the name of "good customer service" are we:<br />venting as many windows as we did in the past? opening up as many ceilings or walls as we did?<br />overhauling as thoroughly as we once did?

    Forget about FIRE DAMAGE and LIMITING ITS SPREAD and REKINDLES, the name the game today is GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE (like we worked in a local retail store)and part of that philosphy is limitimg the amount of "damage" done by the firefighter.

    There seems to be a movement afoot recognizing the need for GOOD TRUCK WORK. I, for one, hope it takes hold.

    Thanks for your patience.

    1261Truckie

  17. #17
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    1261 Truckie,good post.I agree with a lot of it,and no pumps on quints aren't killing truck work,the whole quint midi concept is.

    Two nights back we were first in on a worker.So now 2 guys on the quint bring in the first line,the driver pumps and that leaves me to do truck work.Thats right one guy,sure the shotgun from the midi will hook up with me after he helps the midi driver back down a long tight dead end street,get his pack out of the compartment and pull 2 feed lines.I might even get a guy or two from the squad a few minutes later when they show up.What I need (and the guys inside)is help right now,but when your half truck half pumper things get done half assed.

    [ 01-25-2002: Message edited by: Lone Hunter ]</p>

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    Lone, how does that situation differ from what a four-man engine crew would do?

    They'd either divide their crew to do engine and truck work, or they'd do engine work while waiting for the truckies.

    In either case, truck work will suffer, but most places don't have the luxury of both an engine and a truck company turning out together. There's an awful lot of single engine houses out there.
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  19. #19
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    It is my view that Quints should be viewed as ladder trucks with a pump. Not as engines with a ladder! Apparatus placement should be that of a ladder company and be placed in front of the building.

    In the situation mentioned above that stated "If a quint were to arrive first on scene what will it operate as, Engine or Truck?". It should be operate as a ladder company, period!

    The utmost important thing is life safety. If the Quint is the first due unit to arrive and an IDLH is encountered, then I would implement the use of the Quint as an engine until the Engine Company arrives. It is imperitave that a line be stretched between the fire and any trapped occupants before any other task on the fireground can be performed. The Quint officer should inform incoming units of what the company is doing. If they are operating as an Engine Company, then until the first due engine arrives, they will be operating as an Engine Company. Once relieved by the Engine Company, the Quint Company should perform their Ladder Company assignments.

    Manpower for quints has to be delegated very carefully. At the start of the tour members should be informed and understand what their role will be for either situation and be capable of performing that task. This is most important for companies that operate with 4 or less firefighters. Remember, if you have a crew of three and the Quint is used as an Engine then you are one firefighter short due to the Chauffeur position. Now you have 1 firefighter and the officer pulling the first stretch!

    I understand that St. Louis operates entirely on the "Quint Concept" having all of their fire apparatus Quints. First off, is this accurate? If so, is it determined by the run cards which unit will perform engine duties and which will perform truck duties when they arrive on scene? What SOP's have been set forth by having a fleet consisting of only Quints?

    GB

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    Ladder truck duties have to be specified in SOP"s. I agree with 7Tower that most departments don't have a ladder in every station, nor do they perform ventilation at an early stage. How many departments have 4 guys on a ladder?

    The piece of apparatus is hardly at fault. The blame goes to people who spec apparatus without knowing the limitations of their respective departments. You don't spec a truck the way FDNY or LA specs if you have fewer personnel or if you face different situations, which everyone does. A Quint can work, as can a ladder truck, or a pick-up truck, if it is used correctly with well trained officers and personnel.

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    St. Louis<br />-- 30 Stations<br />-- 30 Quints -- 2000gpm/400gwt/75' Aerial/900' 4"<br />-- 4 Quint "Hook & Ladders" which IIRC are 2 -- 125' Ladders and 2 Towers<br />-- 2 Heavy Rescues<br />-- Minimum manning of 4

    Also as I recall, 1st Quint is an Engine, 2nd Quint goes to Truck, 3rd Quint goes to Engine, 4th Quint goes to Truck.

    The H&Ls almost always do truck, as they are housed with an Engine (Quint) company.
    IACOJ Canine Officer
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    Thumbs up

    Correct you are Dalmation. The six-member Rescue Companies do truck work also.

    I'll also have to agree with an earlier post, it doesn't matter how the truckies get to the fire, ladder, rescue, tanker, or taxi, get the truck work done!!! It's definately a lost art in most of America.

    <br />Steve

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    truck work is losing ground and fast. everyone wants to run for the knob, few people take the time to learn truck ops, they want to ride the truck so they can say they came on that, but if the engine wasnt staffed they would jump on that, so they can have the knob.

    If quints ran as trucks, and operated as truck then they could be called trucks but they dont i have never seen it. they are in fact an engine with an elevated master stream that is all. but unfortunatly if a fire is working all the chief sometimes cares about is water, because that is the only thing he can see from the outside, maybe if the engines as the inside crew will continuasly ask for more ventiltion they would get the point. we need to remember to let them know what is going down, and that we need ventilation, because they cant see how bad it is inside. maybe this will help.

    No one wants to do S&R because they have gotten into the habit of not finding people, so it isnt exciting, they want the garunteed action.

    I perfer truck work, i have grown out of engine work and dont care for it anymore, no one else likes to ride the truck so i dont have to fight over hooks, like the rest are fighting over hose, the truckies at our house are damn good to, at least the salty ones, we rolled a commercail fire in a resturant right on the engines bumper, we finished the primary before they made it to the front door. we were understaffed so we only had an inside crew so after that we went to the roof. loved every minute of it.

    but it is a lost art, actually aggresive firefighting alltogether is losing ground, before long we will be doing car seat checks and not training at all, but that is just me I am cynical. I question the priorities of some departments at times.

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    If quints ran as trucks, and operated as truck then they could be called trucks but they dont i have never seen it.

    How many places have you looked.

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    There are some interesting experinces out there regarding Truck work...and I am glad to see I am not the only one who is concerned with the support functions traditionally provided by the Truck.

    I think there is more to it than just Staffing or run numbers. I think much of the confusion over whether or not a dept. should aquire a quint results from a lack of Strategic goals and parameters.

    Many depts. including my own have bought quints and disbanded Truck companies just because they think it will provide abilites and options not presently found on the fire ground. However many departments (including my own) that I have seen buy the Quints without really considering how they will fit in to their operations "strategicly".

    Some departments have Engine companies that are equiped with generators, brooms & shovels, salvage equipment, extrication tools, large ground ladders, water rescue equipement, ropes, fans, hooks and other equipment that typicaly would be found on a truck. These engines will cost typically in excess of $300,000 and sometimes over $425,000!

    All of this equipment is on a rig that has typical reponses of car fires, Auto alarms, car fires EMS and car accidents. 75% of the equipment is never used on any of these. However the cost of purchasing, maintaining and bringing it along on every call is still incured.

    These rather large apparatus are expensive to run (added wieght leads to more wear on brakes and suspension & higher fuel consumption, etc.)

    If instead they would get simple $250,000 engines with no frills they could easily afford a nice truck and all that extra support equipment would repond on the alarms on a rig with firefighters that are profiecent in the skills and the craft of Truck Company operations. One only has to look at the skills and techiniques that must be masterd by a Truck Company to realize that there are very few Quint companies that can trully master and maintain proficenices on all Engine and Truck Skills!

    A jack of all trades and a Master of NONE!

    Some communites do not require a truck and a quint would be a great improvement...however a mid size or larger department that desires to provide an "Urban level response" should instead of weakening Truck companies should rather look at providing quints to add to engine compaines tools.

    It is all in how it fits in to your operations. Before you buy it ask how many times did we need it and how would it work in practice.

    Thats all I have for now.

    Two cents from a fireman.

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