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  1. #1
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    Post Engineer In Training

    I'm looking for some help from experienced engineers. I'm an engineer trainee and have some reservations. I know that you take on a heck of a lot of responsibility when you climb into the driver's seat of a truck; That combined with some of our wintery weather makes me more than hesitant to complete my training. I'm hoping some of you out there can give me some rules of thumb that you go by, maybe some lessons you've learned the hard way or not so that I can learn from your mistakes and successes. Thanks in advance for anything you can contribute!


  2. #2
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    elishua,

    First you have a good attitude. I would much rather have someone who has a healthy respect for the responsibility of being an engineer than one who just likes the lights and siren.

    Start by learning the apparatus inside and out. Basically you should be able to crawl in through the radiator and come out the tail pipe and know all the components and how they relate to each other.

    Learn "back up procedures" for when the high tech stuff quits working. Can you engage or disengage the pump manually? Do you know how to "wet prime" when the primer quits?

    Learn the physical handling qualities of the apparatus and yes, it will handle differently on ice and snow.

    More later

    Stay Safe
    IACOJ

  3. #3
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    Take some time to watch professional truck drivers, those who own the vehicle they are driving. Notice how slow and easy they accelerate and go around corners and how gradually they slow down to a stop sign. Drive your apparatus accordingly. Don't use full throttle to get from one stop sign to the next. Use the retarder if provided to the fullest so you barely have to use the brakes. Downshift the engine to help slow you down, it won't hurt anything to do that agressively. If policy dictates that you don't use a retarder during incliment weather then slow to a crawl. Your brakes are no better without the retarder if it is raining than they would be if it was dry.

    Imagine what it would be like if a brake hose blew out as you were approaching a busy intersection. Do you take agressive enough slowing action beforehand that you would be able to compensate? Imagine if an outside dual tire was flat as you went around a hard left turn. Would you be going slow enough to stay upright?

    And finally sound your siren at all intersections, stop fully at red lights and stop signs with no exceptions, and don't exceed the posted speed limit by more than about 10 mph.

    These simple actions in my estimation will allow you to avoid almost any situation that could result an at-fault accident and many that would result in an accident that is somebody else's fault. Every time we operate outside these bounds we are rolling the dice. How many times can we roll the dice before we get snake eyes?

    Birken

  4. #4
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    We don't have alot of ice and slick conditions around here, but I would think it would be better to use the jakes than to step on the brakes if on ice.

    I am thankful of the senior officers of my locale who invested alot of time and energy in my engineer training. When I was a rookie, I went to the panel alot of times with them, paid attention, took notes, and learned alot along the way. For me, I learned alot more about the apparatus in actual fires and evolutions than I did in a classroom, or station training. But I am a hands - on kinda guy.

    My advice to you is just get in their, pay attenetion, and don't be afraid to ask questions. I know the job can be a little stressful at times, when you are going balls to the wall, but if you know your stuff, and can retain some professional calm, you will be alright.

    As for the inclement weather driving....unless it is a dust storm, I don't have any advice for you.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the pointers. I appreciate the support and advice. When I pass my engineer's test, I'll be the first female engineer in my department. That, of course, is not the only or even the greatest ambition behind me doing this but it can be a powerful motivator!

    Please, keep the tips coming. I'd rather learn from another's mistake than my own if possible.

  6. #6
    Forum Member SCOOBY14B's Avatar
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    As far as using the Jake on ice...do it and it'll be a fun ride. As soon as the Jake is activated it will lock the rears up and around you will go.

    Most new apparatus have ABS. If on ice, you shouldn't be going that fast anyway.

  7. #7
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    I do believe - at least in my experience- the jake is just an engine brake, and has no control over the air, or hydraulic system of the truck. Please, a knowledgable person please correct me if I am wrong, but I understand that the engine brake(jake) just releases enging compression to the exhaust. How does this cause the rear brakes to lock up??? We brought our tanker back from Pierce in Wisconsin, and used it alll the way thru the mountains in Colo. on ice and snow, and never had a problem one. SOMEONE PLEASE ENLIGHTEN ME so I will never steer anyone wrong again!!!

  8. #8
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    Yes, an engine brake is just that-an engine brake. However, the engine is obviously connected to the rear-end via the transmission and driveshaft. In a two-wheel drive configuration, ALL the slowing force produced by the engine brake is on the rear wheels.

    During slippery road conditions, an engine brake may cause the rear wheels to lock-up (braking force exceeds the friction of the tires on the road).

    With 'regular' braking, you are hopefully distributing the stopping power to all wheels evenly. An ABS system in the newer trucks further helps adjust the braking to each wheel. Some other auxiliary braking systems such as a Telma (driveline) retarder or transmission retarder may already be interfaced with the ABS system.

    Many engine brake systems have a low-medium-high settings that can help you match the road conditions with the braking force.

    Engine brakes are a must in our hilly area of Connecticut. As part of our driver's training, we also practice with the engine brakes set to the off position so the drivers know what to expect if they do have to shut them off. A 'Jake' brake can save a lot of wear and tear on the vehicle brakes and can allow you to drive more 'aggressively', but you have to know their limitations as well.

  9. #9
    Forum Member Maverick9110E's Avatar
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    this was posted in the firefighter general section in a post:

    by resqtek


    The engine retarder brake slows the vehicle by altering the operation of the engine exhaust valves so that the engine acts as a power absorbing air compressor. This does not activate the brakes but it does apply slowing or retarding action to the wheels through the drive shaft. This can cause a loss of traction on slippery and icy roads. It would be similar to driving a car on icy roads at 60 mph and dropping it into first gear. Most newer engine brakes are designed to cut out at a certain rpm to avoid stalling the engine but by the time the engine brake cuts out you may already be sideways.

    by nmfire

    Think about it this way...

    Your going 40mph and the road is slippery. You apply any kind of wheel-slowing force, the momentum of the truck will just drag the wheels on the slick surface. This puts you into a skid. The same thing would happen by applying brake pressure but not enough to lock them. It will still drag the wheels because of the momentum and not having traction.

  10. #10
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    Default

    You can practice and practice and the first time you roll up on a working strucuter fire youll probably forget how to do something, dont worry everyone does it!! Good luck

  11. #11
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    Some basic rules;
    1. The truck does not move unless everyone (including the officer) is belted in.
    2. Never drive faster than you are comfortable. The first time I drove to a fire, the truck (a fast attack based on a Ford F550) felt 'heavy', so I drove slower than the speed limit on a downhill curve. FF in the back seat was going crazy, telling me to go faster. I told him "We help no one if we don't get there! We are supposed to be the solution, not part of the problem!" {The truck drives differently with 700+ pounds of FF in the back seat.}
    3. It's the officer's job to handle the siren, radio, etc. YOU DRIVE THE TRUCK!
    4. Never back without a 'backer'. It's too easy to hit something you cannot see.
    5. Learn the pump operations until you can do them with your eyes closed. Make a 'cheat sheet' for yourself. Remember, smooth is fast. I go to the station alone some times, to run through the operation of each truck. I also made cheat sheets for friction loss for all our pre-connects - for everyone.
    6. Find and read the owners manual! My department has been doing a number of things incorrectly, because "we have always done it that way!" I watched our Chief have problems starting our CAFS unit yesterday, because, even though he is a heavy equipment mechanic, he had not looked at the owners manual.
    7. Every day a school day. Go to classes, read everything you can find about FF/Engineering. I found a maker of automatic nozzles who says they are "not reccomended for handlines", although another local department uses them on their handlines. I even read the sales catalogs for fire equipment. There is lots of good knowledge in them.
    8. Male/Female does not matter. Desire to learn and do the job matters.

  12. #12
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    Cool

    Hang in there sister! Being a Driver/Engineer is an awesome responsibility, but it can bring with it real satisfaction. When your crews are out there putting the wet stuff on the red stuff, and YOU are keeping them supplied with water, at the right pressure, you have the right to be proud!

    I am a fairly new Engineer myself, but I had a wonderful mentor. He was patient and thorough, and he made sure I knew what I was doing before he told the Chiefs that I was ready. They now have enough confidence in me, that I am the designated D/E whenever I am at station. That is a great feeling.

    There have been many good tips and suggestions from our fellow D/E's, so read up, and take the bull by the horns. You CAN do it!

    Steve
    Lt./D/E
    Rainbow Lakes Fire Rescue
    "The Fighting 14"

  13. #13
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    Awesome advise from everyone. Nothing more to add really other than be familiar with the truck, know what it is capabilities are. Just remember whos emergency this is - dont turn it into yours.

    Ahhhh engine brakes - its all physics. I think Firedawg803 is in the same boat as me. We are used to driving in less than ideal conditions. You learn to feel the road and are able to judge driving conditions accordingly and how your apparatus will react. We use engine brakes in less than ideal driving conditions because we are used to the apparatus - if its a real crappy day without good traction the engine brake is off.

    Downshifting is a great way to save on brakes - just remeber downshifting on ice is just as bad as having an engine retarder on, drive wheels will slow faster than the momentum of the truck causing a yaw and possibly a spin out.

    I find getting to the scene to be 90% of the battle - pumping is the easy part.
    Good Luck
    Dave

  14. #14
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    FireDawg803:
    The engine brake does not lock-up the brakes,
    these are two separate systems.

    However in icy conditions the engine brake
    can overcome your traction, stopping the
    drive wheels and unless you are very quick
    also kill the engine. This will cause the
    loss of power steering.

    We are now at the beginnig of an adventure.

    Be Safe
    Bill

  15. #15
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    1. Some days 60 mph is too slow, and some days 5 mph is way too fast.
    2. Don't ever let a visiting firefighter come into your station and know more about your rig than you do.
    3. The day you become the smartest engineer in the house is the day you start studying again, because by then there is some youngster trying to be smarter than you.
    4. Once you know the basic way to do something, figure out Plan B.
    5. As soon as you figure out Plan B, learn Plan C. (i.e.: regular drafting, backfilling the suction hose, opening the highest discharge, using a jet siphon, using a booster line to jet the water)
    6. There has never been a fire extinguished by a fire truck that didn't arrive on scene.
    7. When I'm driving, it seems the air brakes never release until all the seat belts are buckled.
    8. I'm the oldest regular driver in my department. I'm also the slowest. And the pumper always seems to arrive about the same time everyone else does.
    9. If you can't get water in the line before the crew can mask up, well, you ain't much of a engineer.
    10. There is truly a place in life for the Q2, the electronic siren and the air horns to all be on at once.

  16. #16
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    It is true that using the engine brake does not apply the brakes, hence the name engine brake. The engine brake needs traction on the rear wheels to work, lifting your foot off the accelerator lowering the rpm's the system engages until a certian rpm. If used on icy roads the initial application may cause loss of traction, when the system detects this it will return to normal operation. However, it may be to late by the time all that happens. We have Jacobs brakes on our trucks, go to their web page and download the owners manual it covers the use on slippery roads and will explain how it works. For any other brand I am sure there is a manual available.

    As far a running red lights and siren. Most states have taken the 10mph rule out of the law. Due to litigation. They now state that you must drive with due reguard for the safety of others. In Kansas it states that you are allowed to exceed the speed limit as long as you do not endanger life or property.

    Good luck in learning to be an apparatus driver. It is one of the most important jobs in the department. It dosen't matter if you have the greatest officers and firefighters, if you don't get there or get water out of the truck they can't accomplish their job.
    Last edited by LtTim556; 01-15-2005 at 06:14 PM.

  17. #17
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    A quick overview on how a Jake brake (compression brake) is activated:

    First, the Jake brake control switch on the control panel must be in the on position. The Jake brake activates when the foot throttle is in the idle position (your foot is off of the pedal). The control circuit senses this, so the Jake brake is activated.

    Ed

  18. #18
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    Exclamation

    Originally posted by firedawg803
    We don't have alot of ice and slick conditions around here, but I would think it would be better to use the jakes than to step on the brakes if on ice.
    Don't use your jake in wet or slippery conditions, or you could cause the unit to skid out of control, have seen it happen in the snow

  19. #19
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    Default Question on ABS and retarders?

    Has anyone experienced a problem with the newer ABS systems interfacing with their retarding system? Several engineers here are finding out that sometimes it is better to leave the retarder on "low" rather than to cut it off on slick /snowy/icy roads because of some type of problem with the ABS functioning properly with the retarder off (especially in the newer rigs). And I have noticed I have better control with the retarder on "low" in the newer rigs with ABS systems than with it off. Any thoghts on this??

  20. #20
    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Originally posted by bigjim1301
    1. Some days 60 mph is too slow, and some days 5 mph is way too fast.
    2. Don't ever let a visiting firefighter come into your station and know more about your rig than you do.
    3. The day you become the smartest engineer in the house is the day you start studying again, because by then there is some youngster trying to be smarter than you.
    4. Once you know the basic way to do something, figure out Plan B.
    5. As soon as you figure out Plan B, learn Plan C. (i.e.: regular drafting, backfilling the suction hose, opening the highest discharge, using a jet siphon, using a booster line to jet the water)
    6. There has never been a fire extinguished by a fire truck that didn't arrive on scene.
    7. When I'm driving, it seems the air brakes never release until all the seat belts are buckled.
    8. I'm the oldest regular driver in my department. I'm also the slowest. And the pumper always seems to arrive about the same time everyone else does.
    9. If you can't get water in the line before the crew can mask up, well, you ain't much of a engineer.
    10. There is truly a place in life for the Q2, the electronic siren and the air horns to all be on at once.
    Great advise

    Im not the oldest engineer in my department, but I am the slowest (aka most safe). I get plenty of grief over it but no matter how much they bitch, I wont change. And why should I? Almost 22 years of emergency driving and not even the first close call...Better to get there a few seconds later than not at all.

    Lots of good replys here, a few things I would add...

    Learn EVERYTHING about the rig. When we get a new rig, I get the manual from our mechanic and go over it with a fine toothed comb.

    Know your response area. Unless we are running mutual aid, my CO doesnt even need to open a map book.

    Study your departments SOPs on apparatus operation. The study them again!

    A clean rig is a happy rig (and a happy CO)

    I second the plan A, plan B, plan C...Expect the unexpected.

    If you have an older, experianced and respected engineer that you can tag along with do it.

    And most important, STOP AT EVERY RED LIGHT!!!!!!!
    Last edited by Dave1983; 02-18-2005 at 08:47 AM.
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

    IAAI-NFPA-IAFC/VCOS-Retired IAFF

    "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
    RUSH-Tom Sawyer

    Success is when skill meets opportunity
    Failure is when fantasy meets reality

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