If you’ve had the opportunity to serve on an apparatus committee, you know how hard it can be to begin a spec-writing process for an individual engine, ladder or heavy-rescue unit. Imagine the responsibility of managing a fleet of more than 2,100 vehicles, fiscal-year capital and expenses of more than $100 million and an on-hand parts inventory of more than $3 million.
Add fleet maintenance and repair, towing, materials management, vehicle procurement, vehicle allocation, data tracking and fleet analysis to the list, and you’ll begin to understand the challenges facing the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) Fleet Services Division. FDNY tries to replace its engines and trucks every 10 years, heavy-rescues every 7 years and ambulances every 5 years. 2008 marked the year for the daunting task of replacing 70 engines out of the 198 presently in frontline service.
FDNY’s 25-person apparatus design committee comprises officers and firefighters from the field, Research and Development, Training, Safety, Operations, the Uniformed Fire Officers Association and the Uniformed Firefighters Association. When the committee set out to design the specs for the new engines, it wasn’t interested in just getting the same old thing.
“We were determined to design our new pumpers with features to improve drivability and safety, and to operate better in the field,” says FDNY Assistant Commissioner James Basile. “We felt that by listening to everyone’s ideas, we could design vehicles that would be the safest and most efficient the department has ever operated.”
The committee started meeting about one or two times a month approximately 2 years ago. “The specs were not written around any one manufacturer,” Basile says. “We hired an automotive engineering firm to review our specifications and asked them to help us write specs that would be open to all manufacturers to bid on. The end result was that Seagrave won the bid, and met all of our specs.”
The new pumpers reflect some of the challenges the department has faced over the last decade. “After September 11, we decided we needed to have pumpers that can draft out of our surrounding rivers if necessary, because we saw water mains disappear when the twin towers collapsed,” Basile says. “Seagrave engineers worked with us to design what we needed. We made provisions for the apparatus to carry four lengths of flex hard-suction on the driver’s side. We also have the capability of having a special intake on the officer’s side of the apparatus to draft, as well as an intake in the front bumper.”
The pumpers also support all of the FDNY satellite companies and provide for a better water-relay system.
The new pumpers also feature six-cylinder Cummins Diesel engines, which should provide better and smoother acceleration and performance and provide more power for operating 2,000-gpm pumps (FDNY previously operated 1,000-gpm pumps in its apparatus). Enhanced water-pressure control is provided by electronic pro-governor and gates for water flow.
Marauder II Cab & Chassis
FDNY chose Seagrave’s Marauder II cab and chassis for its new engines. The Marauder II is engineered with superior structural integrity. It’s the only cab I know of that’s built with a 3" rectangular-tube steel sub-frame. Welded over this sub-frame is a completely enclosed stainless-steel superstructure that provides a protective cage. The cage is then covered with heavy gauged stainless steel.
The front bumper also has heavy channel and angles, with a full channel behind the 80,000-psi steel bumper. The frame boasts a 120,000-psi yield strength.
The crew cab was redesigned by raising the roof 8 inches and moving the engine compartment forward, allowing more room for gear and tools. Other features include additional steps and handrails, wider seats, power windows and an additional mobile data terminal (MDT) in the rear cab so firefighters can obtain necessary information while responding to an alarm.
FDNY also specced newly designed brackets for the flex hard-suction hose on the driver’s side of the vehicle, new emergency lighting and high-mounted rear brake lights and turn signals for added safety. “We added revolving lights on each side of the top of the cab,” Basile says. “We mixed them with LED lights, but found that the revolving lights were easier for motorists to see as the vehicles approached an intersection.”
The split-tilt cab with an increased width totaling 96 inches provides a larger interior area and ease of maintenance. The cab roof features an extra diamond plate storage box for cold weather suits, hazmat equipment or whatever the individual companies need.
The End Result
FDNY took a proven Seagrave product and customized it for the department’s needs and operations. The end result is not only a roomier, safer vehicle for FDNY firefighters, but also provides a vehicle design template for the department’s future apparatus.
Even if you won’t need the amount of apparatus FDNY operates with, you can apply the FDNY experience to design a vehicle based on your response area and operational needs.
FDNY’s New Seagrave Engines
- Seagrave Marauder II cab and chassis
- 450-hp Cummins ISM diesel engine
- 4000 EVS Allison transmission
- 2,000-gpm Waterous two-stage pump
- Stainless-steel body and cab
- 500-gallon L-type water tank
- Federal Signal Night Fighter work light
- 189 ½" wheelbase
- 17 ¾" bumper extension
FDNY Fleet Services
- More than 2,100 vehicles
- 5 repair facilities • 280 personnel
- $100 million budget
- $3 million parts inventory
- $6.5 million in repair parts issued
- 1,028 department tows performed
- 17,000 shop repairs performed
- 8,000 emergency crew roadside repairs