|Building a New Rescue Engine, Part one: Blueprints and Meetings|
|By Firefighter/EMT Amanda Murphy|
|March 3, 2019|
Building a rescue engine is more than putting a body on a chassis, adding battle paint, and equipping it with the “jaws of life.” It takes a collaborative force of engineering smarts, decades of experience, wisdom, and dedication.
In 2017, based on an apparatus replacement plan, members of Po-Mar-Lin Fire Company decided it was time to begin the replacement process of Rescue 36. A select group of tenured members was chosen, known as the Apparatus Committee, to drive the operation. They quickly partnered with Pierce Manufacturing to begin the creation of a new rescue engine.
The members of the committee have over 100 years of combined experience with an understanding of the operations of an apparatus and what is needed on the scene of an emergency.
Fire Chief and member of the Apparatus Committee, Jason Griffith, said, “It was a great group of us that worked diligently to ensure that we are going to get the best possible truck for Po-Mar-Lin and the community we serve. And one that will last us for the next 20 years.”
Over the last year and a half, the committee had numerous meetings and met for several hours at a time to ensure careful, meticulous planning. Often times they would gather around a conference table pointing at and scribbling down notes on a large piece of paper rolled out like a map. This map-like skeleton slowly took the shape of a blueprint for a new rescue engine.
“We started out with the basics, type of truck, the manufacturer of the truck, and what kind of capabilities we wanted the truck to have. For example, the pump size and how much water it would hold,” said Griffith.
They landed on a 2019 Pierce Enforcer Mega PUC Rescue Engine. According to the members of the committee, the size of the new rescue has been the biggest change. A shorter apparatus makes for easier maneuverability.
President and Chair of the Apparatus Committee, Stephen Nuse, said, “Our current rescue is large. With the changing technology and simpler pumps and chassis options we are able to do so much more with smaller equipment. We hope to improve on flaws we have seen over the 15-year life of the current rescue.”
Some of the changes will include a smaller and more condensed pump, lower hose beds for easier access, seating for 6 instead of 8, and battery-powered rescue tools.
“While we plan the rescue engine for our local most importantly, we do take into account what neighbors have and may need for assistance. For instance, Longwood Fire Company has a heavy rescue with much greater capabilities than we have ever had.” Nuse continued, “We do not need to duplicate the equipment. If we need more advanced or additional equipment we call them for additional resources.”
Last weekend, the members of the committee traveled to Appleton, Wisconsin for a pre-build meeting to review final specifications of the new rescue engine with Pierce.
Safety Officer, Trustee, and member of the Apparatus Committee, Jeff Groves, said, “The meeting at Pierce went very well. We were able to look at every specific aspect of the truck and make changes to the specification if needed.”
Manufacturing and assembly should start in about 6-8 weeks. If all goes according to plan, the committee will travel back to Appleton for the final inspection in August 2019. In the meantime, the committee will begin planning and acquiring tools for the new rescue engine. They will work with Glick Fire Equipment Company to design the compartments and cab to mount tools and equipment.
“All of us are really excited to watch this truck take shape. We feel we were able to set this truck up to do everything we need it to. And we are even more excited to see our membership’s reaction to it,” concluded Griffith.
At the end of the day, it’s more than simply building an emergency apparatus. It’s for public service and safety (and maybe a little bit of company pride). There is (almost) no tool more important because, without it, firefighters have nothing when they show up on scene. This new apparatus will carry them safely to an emergency, help them do their job more efficiently, and most importantly: take them home.