Triple Threat: Vehicle Operation And Apparatus

Triple Threat

Engine 31 is a Rosenbauer Commander pumper with a 1,500-gpm pump and a 1,000-gallon tank with a low rear hosebed. (Photo by Jeff Hawkins.)

The Solomons Volunteer Rescue Squad and Fire Department (SVRSFD), located in Calvert County, Maryland, is like most fire departments in the United States-it has an ever changing response district. According to Norman Rea, the department’s public information officer, the diverse response area has changed over the past several years. The district has expanded with strip shopping centers; restaurants; elementary, middle, and high schools; as well as the Solomons Island tourist areas.

It also has Route 4, a major highway running through the district, that is busy with vehicles including numerous semi-trucks, resulting in numerous motor vehicle accidents for the department to handle on a regular basis. Besides these areas of concern, the area is surrounded on three sides by water, the Chesapeake Bay and the Patuxent River. There are also the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear and LNG plants that require the SVRSFD to have specific standard operating guidelines to operate in these areas.

Back in 2012, the department decided to upgrade its fleet. Most of the older vehicles were 1990s vintage, and they were becoming obsolete. The SVRSFD also needed more compartment space to handle newer rescue equipment to expand its operations.

Replacement Strategy

The replacement of the vehicles is based on maintenance records and age and mandated by Calvert County’s Procurement Office. “They give us a budget to go by and will give us so much money to purchase. So we are basically funded by the county,” Rea says.

“We begin by drawing up the specs with our committee and then will have nine-plus fire chiefs in the county go over the specs and design to make sure we don’t go over the top,” Rea says. “We also have open communication with all of the departments in Calvert and Saint Mary’s county.”

The county chief’s council will then give an approval on the design. When the department decided to replace some of the vehicles, it narrowed the number down to three, as doing so provided a better price in the long run.

“Our department can purchase from virtually any manufacturer that we want but must have a minimum of three manufacturers look at the specs and bid,” Rea says. “Rosenbauer was actually the middle bidder, and we decided to go with them because of them meeting our specs and giving us what we really wanted in all three vehicles.”

Vehicle Design

Some of the items designed into the vehicles were a great improvement from the older vehicles. Larger compartments were designed for all three trucks. There are an electric drop tank and side discharges on the tanker. On the rescue engine, the larger compartments enable the department to carry more technical rescue tools, stabilization jacks, a light tower, more cribbing, two more Rams, a pedal cutter, ice sleds, wet suits, and a rear-mounted pump. The vehicle basically doubled in size. They also did away with hydraulic reels. There are six sockets built into the body of the rescue. The sockets allow personnel to connect bundled hydraulic hoses that are in various sizes and that are stored in a compartment. This allows for quicker deployment at an extrication scene. The department spec’d bigger horsepower engines on all three vehicles. The pumper also has a low rear hosebed for ease of stretching lines as well as repacking hose.

“Working with Rosenbauer and their local dealer, DPC Emergency Vehicles, was great,” Rea says. “They took all of our ideas and made it work for us in the design. They also gave us ample extra compartment space for future expansion.”

Vehicle Operation

According to Rea, operation of the SVRSFD vehicles includes the following:

“Engine 31 is housed at our main station and is first due in hydranted areas. Its primary function is as an attack engine for offensive and defensive operations. We also carry several fittings on all the rigs to be able to operate in all surrounding areas for water supply, whether it be hydrants or individual pumpers or tankers.

“Engine 33/Tanker 3 is classified as a pumper tanker. It serves as a dual purpose as a first-due engine and also provides water supply as a tanker in areas that do not have hydrants. It will respond throughout the county on mutual aid by running in tanker shuttles and providing water in other rural areas without hydrants as well.

“Rescue 3 is our heavy-rescue unit that responds to auto extrications, water rescues, collapses, and as EMS support should EMS crews need manpower and support. It carries a full complement of Holmatro rescue equipment and Rescue 42 stabilizing struts.”

Specialized Design

As you can see, the SVRSFD is fully versed in designing for its needs and response district. Members worked with all of the surrounding fire chiefs and departments to design three new vehicles that will serve not only the community but also mutual-aid companies in two surrounding counties.

I see more and more departments sharing equipment because of not only cost but also interoperability, making it easier to operate on the fireground with mutual-aid companies. While your department might not be able to purchase these three vehicles at once, it’s possible that with constructive proactive design you might be able to work the cost into sharing with neighboring departments. Thinking outside the box seems to be catching on around the United States fire service when it comes to apparatus design and sharing equipment and apparatus.

Solomons Volunteer Rescue Squad and Fire Department

Engine 31 Specs

Rescue 3 Specs

Tanker 33 Specs

Clarion UX