You Call, We Come

The Ashburn Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department took delivery of the first Ferrara Igniter TDA. (Photos by Mike Sanders.)
The Ashburn Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department took delivery of the first Ferrara Igniter TDA. (Photos by Mike Sanders.)

The AVFRD is located off Route 7 approximately 30 miles northwest of Washington, DC. It consists of 17 square miles with a population of approximately 55,000, including Lansdown, which is the department’s second station. According to Kyle Stephens, assistant chief of operations, the response area consists of numerous subdivisions of single-family homes, apartments, and condominiums. It also includes the Dulles Technology Center, which contains offices of major corporations, universities, strip malls, schools, and other commercial establishments.

The fire department itself is part of the Loudoun County Fire Rescue System. The Loudoun County Combined Fire-Rescue System (LC-CFRS) is made up of the career Loudoun County Fire and Rescue (LCFR) and 16 volunteer companies.

The area has experienced an explosive growth in population and building over the past 10 years; so has the AVFRD. The need for more apparatus to meet the community’s needs was the department’s main concern.

Community Needs

“Since the community grew so much, we had to come up with a new design for an aerial,” Stephens says. “Our 2005 Ferrara/Spartan 100-foot aerial platform was scheduled to be replaced in the coming years, so we began planning for a new purchase back in 2014.”

Since 2010, construction in the area has changed. The streets became tighter, and there is more street parking of vehicles in the area. “We had numerous subdivisions with poor access for our bigger ladders to maneuver in and around,” Stephens says. “What was once a rural area was turning into an urban area. Because of this problem, we decided to go with a tractor-drawn aerial (TDA).”

The committee for the design of the new aerial was made up of several individuals, including Ashburn’s salaried fleet manager, paid firefighters stationed at Station 6, two emergency vehicle mechanics with more than 10 years of experience, chiefs, and volunteer members.

The rear of the apparatus showing easy access steps to the tiller seat as well as a side-mounted 24-inch extension ladder.

During the process, the committee looked at five manufacturers. “We chose Ferrara since we had dealt with them before in purchasing several engines in the past, “Stephens says. “Since we are an independent fire company, we can purchase and choose who we want; we didn’t have to go to bid.” The only stipulation the committee has was that it had to meet the Loudoun County minimum standards or could exceed them. The ladder had to have a prepiped waterway and rollover protection and meet National Fire Protection Association 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus.

“One nice thing that we had going for us is that we dealt with Ferrara directly,” Stephens adds. “There were no salespeople. We worked with the president and vice president of the company and their engineers.”

Vehicle Specs

The truck was ordered in October 2015, and the specs were revolving since this was going to be the first TDA that Ferrara built. The entire first year the committee worked with Ferrara’s engineers on planning and engineering drawings.

After that, they worked on body design. The cab seats six plus the tiller person, which matches the department’s other Ferrara engines. “We will carry a mirror image of tools on each side of the body of the truck,” Stephens says. “It consists of six rescue tools, two spreaders, two cutters, two combi-tools, and four rams.”

The 100-foot aerial is manufactured by Smeal with a prepiped waterway. The ground ladder complement includes 16- and 24-foot ladders that are side mounted, two 35-foot ladders, two 28-foot ladders, three 16-foot ladders, and a 13-foot Little Giant step ladder. As with all truck companies, it will also carry a full complement of saws, forcible entry tools, hooks, and rope.

“Since this was a new type of vehicle for us, training our members was a priority,” Stephens says. “We were able to lease an older 1990 Seagrave TDA for our members to train on over a year and a half in advance. This gave the members a great deal of operational training before we took delivery of the new truck, saving a great deal of time before we put it in service.” The department hopes to have 80 drivers trained, and the trainees are undergoing 20 hours of cab familiarity and 20 hours of tiller training. Trainees start out with a parking lot and cones and then area training and operation. They will all receive Virginia emergency vehicle operator IV certification when done.

“Overall, working with Ferrara was good,” Stephens says. “We had some minor cosmetic changes and had to redesign a heater in the tiller cab, but that was mainly it. A few other departments looked at our design while the truck was still on the line at the factory.”

Training In Advance

The AVFRD had planned well in advance of this major purpose. The vehicle was planned and designed to resolve a maneuverability problem that the department had with previous aerials. The committee took into consideration the tight streets with past and future building in the area. Along with Ferrara engineers, the department designed what it feels will solve this problem.

One of two extrication tool compartments.

Since training was of the utmost importance, the AVFRD was proactive in thinking by leasing a TDA and having the members trained on its operations since this was a new type of apparatus for them. While they will still have to train on the new delivery, training in advance on the leased unit will save them months of training time. They will be able to put the new aerial in service a great deal sooner.

Preplanning in design of a new vehicle for your response area and pretraining on an apparatus if you can lease one is a great idea, if you can afford it. The main idea here is having the proactive thought process to decide what your priorities are.

Ferrara Tractor-Drawn Aerial Specs

  • Ferrara Ignitor seven-person cab.
  • 100-foot Smeal steel aerial with piped-in waterway.
  • 450-hp Cummins nine-liter diesel engine with Allison EVS 4000 automatic transmission.
  • Onan 30-kW hydraulic generator.

Ashburn (VA) Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department

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August 2017
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