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    Default Auto-Levelers

    I am curious as to what people are thinking of the auto-leveling systems that are currently out there on aerials?

    Greatest thing since sliced bread ? Extra expense with little benefit? Unreliable or reliable?

    In your experience has the need for personnel training increased or decreased because of auto-leveling features on aerial stabilizers? TL

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    Auto levelers can be an asset if by some chance you don't have a greatly experienced operator, are on a grade that you just have to make sure it's alright, etc.

    Auto levelers should not be a justification for less training on an aerial. If you've previously had an aerial without it, the same level of training should still apply with extra time added to show off the new tool. It is not inteded to be a solution for less training of your operators. You may sneak by and get away without training an operator to properly use the manual controls for levelling, but what happens if the tool breaks? They need to know how to operate the system.

    It's just another tool that we can included in our toolbox, or rather, on it.
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    KME's system has been pretty flawless on our tower. We still train on manual ops, particularly for short jacking. The vast majority of our set ups are of the 2 button variety. One to extend, one to level.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SSIaerialmanTIM View Post
    I am curious as to what people are thinking of the auto-leveling systems that are currently out there on aerials?

    Greatest thing since sliced bread ? Extra expense with little benefit? Unreliable or reliable?

    In your experience has the need for personnel training increased or decreased because of auto-leveling features on aerial stabilizers? TL
    Blind faith in new technology has forced many FD's into "screw the pooch" situations... I'm sure it's a nice to have, but when it craps out on you with people hanging out a window with the fire searing their backsides.. you need to be able to set the jacks/stabilizers manually.

    Murphy is alive and well and living in the firehouse!
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 07-01-2007 at 05:54 PM.
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    "KME's system has been pretty flawless on our tower".


    I actually had to read this a few times. My guess is that there is atleast one exception to every rule!!

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    I work off of 2 sutphen towers, they do not have self levelers buy I was wondering if any units out there have a self bedding feature. THE ALIGNMENT LIGHTS SUCK and it would be sure nice (especially when another call comes in) to be able to bed via automatic controls vs trying to feather the thing perfectly (which if you have a skud-phen it take a lot of time.... and yes I practice it all the time)

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    Our KME has been in service about 2 years and it has also been flawless. I guess that's 2 exceptions to the rule.

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    We have auto-leveling on 2 of our 10 ladders. We have had this system in place for about two years now on those trucks, and it has worked without a hitch in every fire situation and weather condition that we have tried it in.

    There are limitations with the auto level feature on our rigs. For example, extreme grades need to be manually leveled, as do any short jacking options. So while the feature does come in handy in a number of situations, as other have already mentioned, it does not replace extensive training with manual leveling.

    I am an instructor on our ladder trucks, and I make sure that if I am training a newbie that they first learn how to manually level the apparatus in every thinkable situation before I show them the auto level function. It is far more important for them in the long run to know how to manually run the truck rather than to rely on the auto-level feature.

    That being said, once an operator is proficient, it's a great feature to have on the truck, and one that can in certain situations greatly reduce set up time.

    But again, training on ALL aspects/functions/feature of the truck is vital. To use an analogy, just because an airplane has auto-pilot doesn't mean that the captain and co-pilot don't need to know how to fly the airplane on manual controls!!!

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    I am not a fan of the system at all.

    Firstly, I don't think it does such a hot job. Sure, it gets the truck "level", but often times the height at which it raises the truck to do so is ridiculous, and by taking the front wheels off the ground, limits operation over the cab (yes, it's a midmount).

    Secondly, it just contributes to the further dumbing down of firefighters. Just like a guy who is brought up and trained on a pump that has all electronic controls, automatic relief valves, etc. usually has no clue about the inner working of the pump, same goes for the guy who relies on the auto level system. Can he level the truck by operating the four outriggers manually without making a big production out of it? I'd rather not find out in the heat of the moment.

    Yes, this is where training and discipline come into play, and yes the system can be helpful, but all in all I have to say it's just a gimmick. A properly trained operator can level the rig just as fast, if not faster, manually; and often times do a better job at it in regards to the amount the truck is raised (i.e. not excessively).

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    Hello Everyone, I take it you guys that are afraid of technology don't fly! Metz has had a self-leveling turntable since 1921 and I believe all European and Japanese Aerials self level one way or the other. When self leveling the suspension is held tight to the frame and the rear tires are only one inch off of the ground. If the Electronics crap out there are manual controls to continue the operation. I am sure that in the near future all North American Arials will self level.
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    METZ AERIALS: "SO EASY A CAVEMAN CAN USE THEM"

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    Are you guys talking about the same thing?

    Those Metz units look like auto-levelling turntables, and I thought the original poster was talking about auto-levelling outriggers only?



    I agree that it certainly will become the norm, but like everthing else a manufacturer tries, there is a develpment and practical learning stage. He is right to research the option first.


    To use an analogy,

    Our pumps are all one or two buttons to start now with automatic pressure management, but we still need to know where and how to manually engage the gearbox, and how to use the engine RPM's to control it if that fails.

    No difference here.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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    Quote Originally Posted by redbaron View Post
    I take it you guys that are afraid of technology don't fly!
    Who the heck said anything about being "afraid of technology"? Our Pierce midmount was one of the first fully multiplexed aerials on the market, that didn't stop us from buying it. Quite the opposite, in fact. My dislike for the auto-leveling system isn't out of fear, it's out of common sense. I can level my truck faster and a lot more accurately by manually controlling the outriggers than by using the auto-level system. Sometimes technology DOES have limitations, you know. Just because they try to make fire apparatus idiot proof, which leads to the dumbing down of personnel, doesn't mean we all have to drink the Kool-Aid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MEAN15 View Post
    Our KME has been in service about 2 years and it has also been flawless. I guess that's 2 exceptions to the rule.
    It is good to hear firefighters talk about Kme trucks in a positive way for a change, our Kme rig has all so been very flawless and in service 2 years!....

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    Chauffer6 - I don't have any experience with the Pierce system, we couldn't even get one to look at when we were buying. We did look at ALF/LTI and did several head to head demos. The auto level was absolutely faster in every case. I'm all for training for the worst case, I'm also all for technology that makes life easier. We push a button to extend the jacks, a second to level the rig and if it is too high we bump the "Lower Truck" button a few times. We do train quite a bit with the manual operation, mainly for short jacking. I only have experience with one rig and it's positive, as they say on TV, your results may vary!

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    Glad to see you guys for the most part think the same thing I do: That learning how to manually level should always come first and that automation can’t replace the operator. I have trained many people on trucks with stabilizer auto level systems and I always concentrate on manually leveling and the weaknesses of “auto-leveling”. Then we talk about the benefits (which are fewer than the advantages I think).

    Baron, yes actually I was talking about stabilizer leveling only but you’re welcome to post on the Metz turntable. I think it should be noted that leveling from the turntable up really doesn’t help with actual apparatus stability on slopes though. I personally think it is a lot of money in the wrong place. All it will do is give the climber a level ladder side to side by a few degrees. I doubt you will see this on US ladders anytime soon (if ever). Losing compartment space, ground ladder space and gaining all the weight from the componentry (and then paying for it ) isn’t worth the trade off just to slightly reduce the pucker factor in my opinion. But it is slick. TL

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    "and paying for it" Here's the surprise.Item for item,foot for foot,the Metz is priced comparably with any of it's US counterparts.As we are currently looking to replace our aging ladder and the Metz is one of several considerations.Personally,I don't care if it autolevels or not,it HAS to be better than a screw jack.Red Baron was involved with one of the first Metz to hit the shores(and that was a LONG time ago)and has been since.He's got a reasonably good grasp on the machines workings having oh say probably a couple thousand hours(or more)on one. Let the bidding begin,T.C.

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    SS Tim I can't agree with you on the stability issue and componentry. Starting with components we use two cylinders and a black box to the PLC to level the turntable which weighs in under 10,000# and can level the aerial on a slope of 16 degrees. With outrigger leveling you are forced to pick up a truck that weighs between 60 and 80 thousand pounds to produce the same end result of the ladder being level at the base. Lets think about stability.
    We maintain the front wheels on the ground with enough weight to enable the front brakes to help hold the truck in posistion and to deploy wheel chocks on both sides of the tires. When you suspend the truck in mid air you do not have the ability to take advantage of the trucks brakes or the ability to chock the wheels. You must also remember that although you have leveled the trucks deck the pads with a total area of approx. 6 square feet are still sitting metal to metal on the original incline. The chances of a stabilizer leveled truck being able to operate on extreme slopes are slim to none. Again, the componentry takes up very little room evidenced by our storage of ladders in the torque tube and full depth compartments on both sides. Also the comment about giving the climber a level ladder a few degrees from side to side is really very misinforming. The ladder will self level automatically to any slope where you have set-up the truck.
    METZ AERIALS: "SO EASY A CAVEMAN CAN USE THEM"

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    Sure, the Metz is great if you don't plan on carrying much equipment or ground ladders since that turntable takes up most of the body's real estate; and if you don't plan on squeezing more than two fully geared guys in the shopping cart they call a "platform" (and even that's a very tight squeeze). Our neighbors to the south have had one for 5 or so years now, and many of the guys admit the novelty has worn off for them. In fact, the dept just purchased and put into service a 100' ALF midmount tower ladder, so we'll see how much use that Metz gets now. I'm not completely knocking the Metz, there are some things I do like about it, the incredible compactness being one of them. Very hard to find a 100' ladder (I don't really consider it a true tower ladder) mounted on that small of a single axle chassis with a quint rating.

    By the way, T.C., not to break balls but for all the ranting you do AGAINST multiplexing, I have to laugh that here you are singing the praises of one of the most computerized rigs out there.

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    One more thing about the Metz...you better watch on congested streets having other rigs too close to it. As seen here, that turntable swings WAY out, even past the outrigger footprint.


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    6,I'm quite familiar with the PLC but thanks for taking time to bring it to my attention.Doesn't really change my mind on multiplexing however.Oh,I suspect our new rig will wind up being a 'plexer but I also expect that feature to cause me problems down the road.With that said,I will tell you that Smeal sends you a link up kit with their multiplexed units so you can use a Laptop to do diagnostics.A nice touch.Now rumor has it that the Rockland roofbreakers have already bent the Alf and it's due back in service shortly.Care to comment on that? Remember I'm a simple person with simple skills.Although I've adjusted nicely to all the modern BS I still remember fondly when Life,the job and our equipment was simpler.And don't park your GD pump so close to my truck,that's why hoses have couplings,hehe T.C.

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    Hello 6
    Where did you ever see a Metz advertised as a Tower Ladder? Metz Aerials are classified for NFPA as Aerials. They are actually a Hybrid that fills a large void between Aerials and Platforms,something that Spec Writer Guru Bill Peters has said should exist in an article he wrote for Fire Engineering several years ago. That is really cute referring to the Rescue Basket as a shopping cart but that shopping cart offers much more room on the end of the Aerial than a set of fold down foot rests. How many guys can you get on your foot pegs. The turntable does not exceed the outriggers, that is a compartment that was added at the request of the customer. Once again I am always willing to put the few sheckles I have on a sure thing. Get your favorite 34 foot long ladder and I'll guarantee you I can have more compartment space than you will. Yo T.C., Rosenbauer also offers the linked system.
    METZ AERIALS: "SO EASY A CAVEMAN CAN USE THEM"

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    Quote Originally Posted by redbaron View Post
    Hello Everyone, I take it you guys that are afraid of technology don't fly! Metz has had a self-leveling turntable since 1921 and I believe all European and Japanese Aerials self level one way or the other. When self leveling the suspension is held tight to the frame and the rear tires are only one inch off of the ground. If the Electronics crap out there are manual controls to continue the operation. I am sure that in the near future all North American Arials will self level.
    Does the Metz come with a 4 foot step ladder to get from the turntable to the first rung on the base section of the ladder?

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    I’m not knocking the Metz Baron but you are misinformed about what makes a truck stable on a severe slope. That is leveling the entire truck on the slope. Not just the turntable. The Metz’s leveling turntable does nothing for true “anit-tip over” stability alone as it is leveling one component on top of the truck while the rest of the truck may be out of level. That is my point.

    I never recommended suspending tires in the air – (e-one is the only one to my knowledge who denies they need tires on the ground for sliding resistance). I always teach and observe tires on the ground wherever possible.

    Baron – all it does is level the ladder sections side to side – that’s it. To say that a leveling turntable affects actual “anit-tip over” stability is what is misleading. It does nothing of the sort. 10,000 lb in componentry is a whole lot of weight, and it does take up considerable space, anyone can see that at a glance.
    Quote Originally Posted by redbaron View Post
    The chances of a stabilizer leveled truck being able to operate on extreme slopes are slim to none.
    Actually your wrong. The chances of a Metz operating on the same slope with the truck out of level and their T.T. leveled is even less. I have operated many US aerials on severe slopes (up to 14 degrees) and turntable leveling wouldn't have done anything to keep the truck from tipping. > 15,000 actual operation hours at the controls and prior NFPA testing work in stability testing for UL have taught me that.

    Anyway – this thread isn’t about showcasing gimic turntable leveling and I'm not trying to start any fight with Metz, but the leveling T.T has nothing to do with WHOLE apparatus stability. Back to the real subject – what these gents think of “auto leveling stabilizers”. I just wanted to see if the guys out there were thinking "auto stabilizers" were as good in all cases as manually leveling and I was glad to hear they don't. TL

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    Quote Originally Posted by ffmedcbk1 View Post
    I work off of 2 sutphen towers, they do not have self levelers buy I was wondering if any units out there have a self bedding feature. THE ALIGNMENT LIGHTS SUCK and it would be sure nice (especially when another call comes in) to be able to bed via automatic controls vs trying to feather the thing perfectly (which if you have a skud-phen it take a lot of time.... and yes I practice it all the time)
    Self bedding could be dangerous if activated with men standing under the lowering ladder. I would think there is good reason that manufacturers are not offering this feature, as I think it would be fairly simple to build.

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    Default Auto Leveling...?

    Auto Leveling is great if you have a parking lot. Keep in mind that auto-leveling doesn't take into consideration cars, curbs, and man hole covers. So unless you have the room to utilize the auto-level system it's pretty much a waste of money.

    T.C. how soo you guys looking to get a new unit and what kind? We in the market as well for a new tower.

    Stay Safe

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