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Must have items on new engine

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  • Must have items on new engine

    Our fire dept has recently started specing a new engine and I am the chairman of the committee. I was wondering what some of you think are the must have features on a new engine. We are mostly a rural area but our station sits along a main road (heavy truck traffic) and there are small towns to the north and south which most of the time we are on their second alarm.

    I need opinions on such things as a front bumper trash line, custom or commercial (we have enough $ for custom), preconnected blitz line, top or side mount, how much foam, ect.. We are looking for what works for you and what some good things to stay away from might be.

    This is our first new engine since '85 so as you can see the new one will be here for probably 20 years. I want our committee members to get some input from elsewhere in the fire community besides our own county here in western Pa.

    Thanks in advance

  • #2
    1) Get a custom chassis. With a GVWR that has room to grow over the 20yrs you expect to have the truck.
    1.5) Easy exit from cab with SCBA on. For your biggest guy on FD.
    2) Don't paint rollup doors. I personally like them but don't paint them.
    3) 12v scene lights to get you going until the hydraulic gen or diesel gen is up and running your 120/240v lights. Controlled from in the cab.
    4) Keep the generator if you have one out of the compartment.
    4.5)(Sorry) Get cord reels with portable lights attached for immediate use at night. Preconnected ready to hit the messing around. Lights allow us to not trip over something in the yard at 3am..... ones on reels allow us to put them out back.
    5) Light weight suction. (pretty obvious, but you can get them longer than 10ft sections and save space.
    6) If you are rural, get front/rear suction and have all needed tools for that operation at the front or rear.
    7) If rural and the engine will have folding tank, get the size that will allow your first in tanker to dump and run. No waiting to dump the last 300-500gallons left over.
    8) Figure out how you will supply the pump you spec and spec the hosebed / equipment to match. If you know your normal lay is 1000ft+ that one 4"LDH will not supply that new 2250gpm pump.
    9)Spare air bottle compartments in wheel wells.
    10)Arrow Stick traffic controller....
    11)Lots of reflective striping.
    12) RED, that is what God intended fire trucks to be.
    13) Q2B, 200w electronics and Grover Airhorns.... but they still won't here you at 10 foot away. (brain damaged people....)
    14)Get a copy of the NFPA 1901 Standard. Read it, put it down for 1 week and then read it again. Let it sink in and get to know it before you get too far down the road with dealers.
    15) See what the ISO people suggest you have for equipment and total pump capacity.
    16)TIC in truck mount charger.
    17) HORSEPOWER... you can't change it or add it later.
    18) Automatic transmission. If you have an auto in the 1985, the new ones are totally different.
    19) A/B foam system with enough B foam to at least make foam with your engine and tanker(s) onboard water.
    20) Whatever your department thinks it "MUST" have on the truck.
    21) Try to standardize location of equipment compared to the other vehicles if possible.

    Sorry for this being so long but I have to start thinking along the same lines myself.... if nothing more the items above will get the ball rolling.


    • #3
      1. Like chiefdog said, horsepower and torque are important features, which you can not go back and change without huge costs! Better to allocate and spend the money now, rather than regret it later going up a large western Pa. hill. Spec a 60 Series Detroit, or a C-12 or C-13 Cat.

      2. Auxiliary Braking Devices: Nowadays a truly desirable, necessary feature, especially if you are in hilly western Pa! Many options are available these days- Engine Brakes such as the well known Jake (Jacobs) Engine Break, or the lesser known Blue Ox. There are also Retarders- Exhaust Retarders, which close off the exhaust and create back pressure (these are more common on smaller engines, such as 40 Series Detroits or "C" Series Cummins engines) Another brand of retarder is the Telma Electromagnetic driveline retarder. This is a system that is built in after the transmission- it's sort of like an electric motor in reverse. See

      Like Chiefdog also stated, Transmissions are not the same! Which brings us to the last type of braking device, the integrated Hydraulic Transmission Retarder. All auxiliary braking devices have their pros and cons, and should be studied before making a decision!

      More Chassis/Driveline stuff:
      3. Specify high quailty components! You'll pay more at the beginning, but in the long run, high quality components plus good preventive maintenance equals lesser breakdowns/failures and less downtime!
      "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."


      • #4
        When specing out the truck...remember this...

        the bitterness of poor quality remains long agter the sweetness of low price"
        ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
        Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY


        • #5
          I'll just go through your list of what you are inquiring about, and then add a few other things.

          Bumper mounted trash line-On our newest engine, we have a compartment below the cross lays that holds 50' preconnected forestry hose, with another 100' that can be connected to that sitting below it. This sits on a pull out tray in the compartment for ease of packing. That might be a better idea, keeping somebody from walking in front of the truck, and leaves the bumper open for more important things, like a Q, electronics, lights, etc.

          Custom or Commercial Chassis-This one depends on what kind of horsepower and torque you want to create, and the seating configuration you want. If you want to be able to seat 5 guys in the back, you are going to want to go with a Commercial chassis, like a Pete, Kenworth, Sterling, etc. so that you can have the back half of the cab set up the way you want it. This also includes the means of egress from the cab when wearing turn-out gear and an SCBA. The bigger the back door, the easier it is to get out of the truck (who woulda thunk?).

          Preconnected Blitz Line-Now, are you talking a cross-lay, or another device such as a Blitzfire? We have at least two preconnected cross lays on each of our engines. Off the back, we have a 3" line preconnected to a Blitzfire.

          Top or side mount-Three of our four engines we have now are top mount, two of them, the twins, are enclosed top mount panels. This way, the operator is inside, out of the weather, and has a better chance of hearing the radio when the attack crew calls for water.

          Foam-We have almost completely switched over to using FireAde 2000 batch mixed in the tank, which has worked for us. Don't have to worry about buying an eductor.

          Now on to the things that ChiefDog stated.
          For a folding tank and suction, ladders, pike poles, etc., we have all of that mounted on top of our two big trucks, air operated, that swing down to the side. Kinda like a gullwing door, but they come down to the side instead of going up. Tank on one side, everything else on the other.

          On sirens. Do not go with JUST an electronic. The Q' moves traffic a lot better than ANY electronic EVER will. The only trucks we use an electronic on all the time are the ambulances and the command cars. With the ambulances, we get near intersections, we use the Q.

          On pumps. The bigger the pump, the better. You don't want to be stuck with only being able to put out 1750 when you need 2150 or better. It isn't very often that you are pumping at full capacity, but it is nice to have the ability to put more water on the fire with a bigger pump than a smaller one.

          And now the other things, like engines and trannys. Get the biggest engine you can. It might be considered over kill to have a bajillion horsepower, and gobs of torque, but with hills, you WILL need it. You don't want to be stuck going 15 mph up a hill to a fully engulfed structure. And then you need to get a tranny that can hold up with that kind of power. An auto tranny is your best bet.

          And as stated, get some form of engine retarder added on to the engine, if it doesn't already have one. Jacobs Engine Systems has two different types of retarders, and engine brake, which turns the engine into an air compressor by opening the exhaust valves as the engine nears top dead center, and an exhaust brake, which closes a butterfly valve in the exhaust to create back pressure. The engine brake is the one that makes my favorite sound, and you know which one that is. The exhaust brake is actually somewhat quiet.

          That's all for now. I have other stuff to do now.

          Air Force Medic


          • #6
            We recently put a new engine in service so this is fairly fresh in my cluttered brain.

            I was fortunate enough to have a heavy equipment mechanic on my committee so we got extra in the powertrain area. Just like the others already stated, you can't add it later.

            The other guys made most of my points already, but one thing I didn't see mentioned was take into consideration your existing equipment that will be transferred to the new unit. Make sure they fit! We overlooked our larger airbags and had to do some serious srambling and adjustment from the envisioned layout plan to get them to fit.

            Take into account ergonomics (My 10 cent OSHA word of the day ) Think about the repetitive tasks you do with your engine, from climbing in and out to getting tools out of compartments to racking hose. Some things like seating and door size need to be designed for the largest guy, but on the opposite end of the spectrum your equipment mounting, etc needs to be for the smaller guys.

            Consider options such as drop-down shelves, pull-out tool board and roll-out trays. It helps to eliminate the awkward reaching into compartments for things and risking a back, shoulder, etc injury.

            Consider a headset system for the cab. Keeps the driver's hands on the wheel for times when the hot-seat is empty and it helps the crew hear what the IC's orders are first hand rather than relayed via 3rd party (it also doubles as hearing protection from road noise and warning device noise)

            Just a couple of thoughts....hope it helps a little bit


            • #7
              Actually with the big"3"engines you CAN add HP later.All the new engines are electrically controlled and "laptop"adjustable within 100-150 HP.CAUTION: If you buy a "detuned"big engine make sure you buy a big enough Allison automatic to withstand the END input torque.IE if you buy a Detroit 500hp "detuned" to 350hp make sure the tranny can stand the strain if you decide to dial it up.The new Allisons are really nice,adjustments(limited)to these can also be done electronically.Make sure you get enough compartmentization and adjustable boards/trays for future growth.We just got done building one,and as hard as you try,you'll find something you overlooked.Good luck,T.C.


              • #8
                As FFTrainer stated, make sure you make your compartments big enough for the equipment you have. We have two trucks that are almost identicle twins, that carry the same equipment, and the newer of the two has three compartments that are COMPLETELY empty.

                If I remember correctly, NFPA 1901 now states that all tools must be held down in some fashion. Your best bet is just to read through it a few times, know it from front to back.

                Air Force Medic


                • #9
                  [QUOTE]Originally posted by fdmhbozz

                  Custom or Commercial Chassis-This one depends on what kind of horsepower and torque you want to create, and the seating configuration you want. If you want to be able to seat 5 guys in the back, you are going to want to go with a Commercial chassis, like a Pete, Kenworth, Sterling, etc. so that you can have the back half of the cab set up the way you want it. This also includes the means of egress from the cab when wearing turn-out gear and an SCBA. The bigger the back door, the easier it is to get out of the truck (who woulda thunk?).

                  I do not want to get an argument started here but am I to understand that I can get a commercial chassis with more room than a custom? Every show that I have been to I have compared them both, I was to shows in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh this year. At the present time we are leaning towards a Spartan with either a flat or 10" raised roof. One of the reasons we like the custom is better turning radius. Iwas told by a FD in our county that has HME that "once you go custom you will never go back".

                  Are there any of you out there that can enlighten me on this?



                  • #10
                    In my experiences I have been in both a custom and a comercial cab. Here is a list of what I have observed...

                    Custom cab

                    1. Ease of entrance/exit
                    2. Tool storage. I can put axes and the like inside the cab
                    3. People space. We can put 6 people in the cab and have them put packs on with ease.
                    4. Length. The total lenghth of the truck doesn't includ the engine sticking out of the front like on a comercial.
                    5. Visibility. No hood or engine in the way of my eyes and the road.
                    6. It just looks more like a fire truck

                    Comercial cab
                    1. Cramped quarters. Your punching your neighbor when trying to get the pack on.
                    2. All my tools are in the compartments, no room in the cab.
                    3. It looks like a firetruck wanna be.
                    This we do so others may live


                    • #11
                      I have been in so many fire trucks, it is hard to remember them all. But, since I spend most of my time in a commercial chassis, I know them the best and like them more. Here are my observations in my department alone, since we have both commercial and custom chassis.

                      - Easier to get out of a door that is full width, as compared to the doors on a Spartan, Pierce, HME, or other brand custom chassis.
                      - In our newer rig, we have a pike pole, NY roof hook, two axes, and all of the EMS equipment we need to carry inside the Full Response® cab.
                      - Since we have trouble being able to fully staff our rigs, we only need room for 5 firefighters total, including the officer and driver. There is not a single problem packing up in the cab.
                      -Pump panel is fully enclosed, with plenty of windows for the pump operator to see everything.
                      - Not really able to be considered ugly, like some of the custom chassis' (yeah, I'm talking about Pierce and Spartan).

                      - Louder than a commercial chassis.
                      - Not as much storage space inside for longer items like a pike pole.
                      - Less visibilty from the top mount pump panel if enclosed, since the cab and the body are usually at the same height.
                      - Some of them are just plain ugly.

                      Air Force Medic


                      • #12
                        I'm surprised no one has listed this yet:
                        Spend the extra cash, and put fires out FAST! There is a video out from CAFSPRO (free, I might add), where they dark down a well involved house in 7 (yes, 7) seconds, with 14 gallons of solution. Why not jump to the front of the pack? BTW, Phoenix FD has just ordered 27 new engines, all with CAFS.


                        • #13

                          The only reason that I did not bring it up in my original post is because the idea was shot down in our first meeting. The main problem I have is that I am the only one in our whole department that has been to any fire shows! The rest of the committee is usually asking me questions and most of the times I have the answer. No one has seen it in action to know how well it performs and they are worried about maintenance issues. The other things that always comes up are "Do we really fight enough structure fires to justify it?" or "It wouldn't have done any good on the ______ fire because it was a total loss".

                          You will not get an argument out of me that CAFS is the way to go but I have got a major uphill battle. Myself I will just be happy to have a good A/B system with enough AR-AFFF to do something.


                          • #14
                            Bozz,you gettin' your custom and commercials bass ackwards? I've NEVER seen a commercial with bigger doors than a custom.And quieter?Musta missed something here too.You could hold a party in our new Spartan,our commercials?Ha ha dress on arrival! In regards to the inquiry (not yours) on flat or ten raised I would VERY strongly recommend the ten inch raised. We didn't do Cafs but we did do class A&B with a Foampro 2001.T.C.


                            • #15
                              My .02

                              1) Light Tower with dual tilt head - more bang for the buck

                              2) As stated before, 12V Fixed scene lights, we have Havis Shield HID's that are cab controlled. When we pull on scene at night, there is general area lighting for FF's getting off the truck. Once on scene, the light tower goes up for specific task lighting.

                              3) Hydraulic generator - Smaller physically, larger output, quiet and on with one button.

                              4) Foam system. We originally were going to go CAFS as well, but decided to go with a Class A injection system.

                              5) Stretch the cab and raise the roof. Gives the crew extra space and allows easier entry/exit.

                              6) Air Conditioning

                              7) Front bumper discharge. We have a 2 1/2" front discharge that is gated to a 1 3/4" car fire line and a 1" trash line.

                              8) Leave room for future equipment.

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