EDITOR’S OPINION CHRIS Mc LOONE
Firefighters and fire departments are thieves. It’s true.
They will blatantly steal a good idea when they see it.
That’s not to say they will claim cred-
it for the good idea, but they will quickly
steal it if it works. It could be an apparatus
design, a new piece of equipment, a new
training evolution—anything if it is good
for the department. It’s even better when a
fire department takes an idea and ends up
improving it in ways the originator didn’t
conceptualize. That’s what the fire service
is all about.
So, it’s not a bad thing that fire depart-
ments steal from each other. Or, maybe emu-
late each other is a better way of describing
it. But, it’s an important aspect of the fire
service because if you emulate or steal an
idea and don’t adapt it to your department’s
deployment methods, there will be repercus-
sions when you design the rig.
I’m no stranger to stealing ideas. Through
the years, I’ve traveled to trade shows and I’ve
certainly taken my fair share of pictures of
fire apparatus, the way equipment is mounted, the locations of the equipment, how cabs
are configured, etc. But, forwarding along
such pictures has always carried a caveat
that it might not work for our current truck
or future truck, and we need to look at things
first before jumping in.
This is why this month’s article by Bill
Adams, “Apparatus Purchasing: FDNY-Style
Hosebeds,” is so important. Although it
refers to a specific hosebed style, its caveats
cross all aspects of apparatus design. It’s
not only about hosebeds—it’s a cautionary
piece that transcends spec’ing hosebeds.
There is a give and take with almost every
item on an apparatus spec. Some are simple. To reduce wheelbase, for example, you’re
probably going to have to narrow the pump
panel or reduce your compartment space.
Going with a walk-in vs. walk-around rescue will cost you compartment space as well.
Adding more compartments and, therefore,
more weight through increased equipment
may cause you to go from a single axle to a
tandem axle—often increasing a rig’s length.
And certainly, there are many decisions made
that require the rear hosebed to be higher
than some would prefer.
Beyond tradeoffs, what Adams explains
is that you really need to know what it is
you’re asking for, and simply asking for an
FDN Y style or low-hosebed style doesn’t
really define what you are asking for.
Unless an apparatus manufacturer spe-
cifically has a low-hosebed configuration
option that details length, height, cubic
footage, etc., then a fire department must
be ready to provide its own definition of
what a low-hosebed style is. Otherwise, it
is extremely likely that it will get a truck
that isn’t exactly what the department
expected or wanted. Additionally, sim-
ply spec’ing a hosebed in use by another
department means that you’re assuming
that you will use the same amount and
type of hose packed the same way as the
department you are emulating.
Ultimately, thievery among fire depart-
ments isn’t a bad thing—provided, of
course, they’re not stealing equipment
from each other. The fire service’s success
is predicated on improving on the past,
mastering the present, and looking to the
future. There will always be a better or
more efficient way to do something, provid-
ed that however your department decides
to do something more efficiently, members
practice it often. There’s nothing wrong
with adopting something from another
department as long as it fits your first due
and allows you to provide expert service.
There is also nothing wrong with
forward thinking, and it ends up being
pretty flattering if your department
is the one being emulated. There are
certain things my fire company has done
through the years where it would have
been pretty cool if other fire companies
or departments looked at something
we did and emulated or even improved
it. If a design worked for us, we drilled
on it, and we were able to deploy the
equipment efficiently. Ultimately, that is
what counts the most.
The fire service’s
success is predicated
on improving on the
past, mastering the
present, and looking
to the future.