Triple Threat: Howard County (Md.) Fire Rescue takes delivery of 2 pumper/tankers & a water-delivery unit

Triple Threat
Howard County (Md.) Fire Rescue takes delivery of 2 pumper/tankers & a water-delivery unit
By Bob Vaccaro

Howard County, Md., has seen significant growth in the last several years. As a result, the Howard County Department of Fire & Rescue Services (HCDFRS) is currently going through some growing pains, opening new stations and adding equipment and personnel throughout the county to meet the needs of the growing population.

HCDFRS is a combination system comprised of nearly 1,200 firefighters and paramedics, both career and volunteer. Its response area contains a non-hydranted rural area and several densely populated urban areas with hotels, malls and restaurants; numerous condo and apartment complexes; commercial buildings; and single-family residences.

All of this has led HCDFRS to be a very progressive department when it comes to replacing apparatus, as demonstrated by its recent purchase of two Pierce pumper/tankers and one water-delivery unit.

One of two Pierce Arrow XT dry-side tankers delivered to the Howard County (Md.) Department of Fire & Rescue Services. The rigs feature 1,000-gpm pumps, 3,000-gallon water tanks, Class A and B foam, Purple-K and CAFS. Photo courtesy Pierce

Howard County’s new water-supply vehicle is a Pierce Saber 4 x 4 with a 1,250-gpm pump and a 500-gallon water tank. Photo courtesy Pierce

Above: The rear view of Water Supply 11 shows the large diameter hose (LDH) reel capable of holding 1,700 feet of 5" hose. Photo courtesy Pierce

Both pumper/tankers feature 1,000-gpm TFT nozzles mounted on the front bumpers. Photo courtesy HCDFRS


Howard County Fire Rescue
• 252-square-mile response area
• 11 stations; Station 13 to open in June 2011
• More than 52,000 fire and EMS responses in 2009
• Pierce apparatus currently in service: 19 pumpers, 2 aerial towers, 2 aerial ladders, 3 heavy-rescues, 1 mobile command unit, 1 decon unit, 1 breathing air unit, 2 rescue pumpers, 5 pumper/tankers, 1 water-supply unit

New Rig Specs
Pumper/Tankers 11 & 13
• Pierce Arrow XT chassis with 230" wheelbase
• Dry-side tanker
• 500-hp Cummins ISM diesel engine with Allison automatic transmission
• 3,000-gallon poly water tank; 400 gallons Class B foam; 100 gallons Class A foam
• 1,000-gpm Waterous CXVT pump with Cummins dual-control engine
• 350 lbs. Purple-K with 80 cf nitrogen
• 10" rear dump valve and two 8" side dump valves
• Four crosslays with Williams Dual Agent nozzles
(two 1.5" water/foam, two 1" dry chemical)
• Husky foam system (Class B to front turret, rear discharge, and 1.5" discharges)
• Two 3,500-gallon Zico folding water tanks

Water Supply 11
• Pierce Saber 4 x 4 chassis
• 425-hp Cummins ISL diesel engine with Allison automatic transmission
• 1,250-gpm Hale Q-Max pump
• 500-gallon poly water tank
• Two hydraulic water-transfer pumps to assist with water supply during drafting
• Two 200' twin hydraulic reels on top of the unit and a LDH reel capable of holding 1,700 feet of 5" LDH
• Two crosslays and four hard sleeves of suction hose

Unusual Approach
To keep up with the growth in the county, HCDFRS has instituted a proactive apparatus replacement policy. “We’ve always followed NFPA standards when it comes to our apparatus needs,” says HCDFRS Fire Chief William F. Goddard. “Taking our budget into consideration, we try to keep our engines in service for 12 to 13 years—7 to 8 on the front line, the reserve status for 5 to 6 years.” Ladders and squads are used for 15 years on the front line and then moved to reserve status.

Unlike most departments, HCDFRS hasn’t gone to bid on apparatus in several years. “We like to look at various other departments in the area that have similar needs and tag on our order to theirs,” says Deputy Chief Jeffery King, HCDFRS Support Services. “We don’t just copy their specs; we add what we need for our county onto the vehicles. We’re mandated by our purchasing department not to go over 15 percent of the purchase price [the price the other departments paid].” By ordering this way, HCDFRS shortens the order and delivery process by 2 or more months.

Another unusual aspect of the department’s apparatus speccing process: It doesn’t have a formal apparatus committee. “Our logistics section will meet with station firefighters and officers who will be ordering the new vehicle as well as our maintenance shop and discuss various issues,” says Deputy Chief Charles Sharpe, who heads up HCDFRS’ operation command.

HCDFRS also got a little creative with the funding for these vehicles. The department is a member of the Baltimore Area Urban Work Group, which comprises seven jurisdictions that meet to discuss fire suppression, water supply and public safety issues. A few years ago, this group was able to obtain Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) funding for seven hazmat units, and it began to discuss how some of the funding could be used to further enhance fire suppression capabilities in the area counties.

HCDFRS proposed purchasing two pumper/tankers and a water-supply unit that would also be capable of responding to ethanol fires on the busy Route 95 and 70 corridors that run through several area counties. The group was able to allocate the UASI funding toward the purchase of one of the tankers. The grant paid for 90 percent of one tanker, while the county funded the money for the two other vehicles and the remaining costs of the grant-funded tanker.

Unique Design
HCDFRS has dealt with Pierce Manufacturing since 2000. “We decided to continue the tradition and go with them on this project,” King says. “Since the units were not typical of what we normally order, a great deal of preplanning took place. The two tankers are pretty much street-legal crash trucks. They operate like ARFF vehicles but have better highway capabilities.”

The tankers were designed for water supply and foam capabilities—Class A and B as well as Purple-K. They both have pump-and-roll capabilities, with a TFT front-bumper-mounted nozzle that can direct a 1,000-gpm stream. The pump is driven by a separate engine, and the trucks can be controlled from the cab. They have 1–3 percent foam capabilities, 100 gallons of Class A foam, 400 gallons of Class B foam, 3,000 gallons of water and 350 lbs. of Purple-K Twin Agent. The Class A foam cell can be used to supply CAFS units in the county, if needed.

“Previously, if we had a tanker fire, we would have to call an ARFF vehicle from BWI Airport,” King says. “With these two units, we hopefully would be able to handle the fire ourselves.”

Water Supply 11 originally started out on an International chassis, but later moved to a Pierce Saber
4 x 4. “Our water-supply committee decided on 5" hose for this unit,” King says. “Previously, our units had 4" supply line. By adding the large hose reels and 5", we can basically lay an above-ground water supply if we have any water main interruptions.” The unit also has twin hydraulic pumps that can help with drafting operations, and it can suction water out of swimming pools, if needed.

“Water Supply 11 is designed as a 4 x 4 that can help out in our rural end of the county during winter months,” King says. “It also carries a wide assortment of Baltimore/Washington hose adaptors that can be used in mutual-aid situations all around the area.”

The department has been training on all three vehicles and they should be put in service in the next couple of months. Tanker 13 will be based at the training academy until the department opens its 12th station next June. It will respond as a special-call unit, mostly in a mutual-aid capacity.

Plan with Your Partners
A lot of preplanning went into the design of these three unique vehicles. Not only was the plan discussed internally, but with the local jurisdictional work group. In this day and age of trying to do more with less, HCDFRS took the smart and fiscally responsible step of planning the design of these units to best serve its entire mutual-aid area.

The next time you’re speccing an apparatus, consider not only what your department needs, but also what type of apparatus will be most useful for mutual aid. Meet with other departments in your area before you write the specs. You might be able to obtain a better grant working together—or share the cost.

Bob Vaccaro has more than 30 years of fire-service experience. He is a former chief of the Deer Park (N.Y.) Fire Department. Vaccaro has also worked for the Insurance Services Office, the New York Fire Patrol and several major commercial insurance companies as a senior loss-control consultant. Vaccaro is a life member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

Copyright © Elsevier Inc., a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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