By Bob Vaccaro
Published Thursday, November 1, 2012
For anyone in the process of designing a new engine, one option you need to consider is the design and placement of master stream devices. Unlike years ago when all master stream devices—or deck guns, deluge guns or whatever else you want to call them—were pretty much standard and manually operated, nowadays you can option almost whatever type and size of device you want, how you want it to operate (by a remote control or joystick) and where it should be positioned (over the pump panel, front bumper or the top of the rear of the vehicle). Another option: portable master stream nozzles connected to a 2½" or 3" line and mounted on the rear of a pumper connected to the hosebed.
You can also have an elevated master stream device installed on your apparatus. Take the Spartan ERV Boomer for instance. They took a master stream device and mounted it on a 28' boom and added lights and other options as well.
As with so many topics I address in this column, you need to determine your department needs, focusing on your primary use for the stream. Additionally, you need to know the fireground tactics that govern the use of these heavy streams. Because we all know that each department has different staffing issues and response concerns, you need to map out these SOPs and tactics before designing your apparatus.
Water supply for a quick hit is a big consideration. Will you have a 750-gallon tank, a 3,000-gallon tank (the latter being a tanker) or will you use the master stream while connected to a hydrant or being supplied by large-diameter hose? The use of a bumper-mounted turret master stream has been gaining increasing popularity, mostly on WUI vehicles with pump-and-roll capability and controlled by a joystick in the cab.
The mounting area is another area for discussion. If you install a manually operated gun with the control wheels for operation, does the firefighter operating the gun have a safe operating position above the pump panel? Does the booster line reel (if you have one installed over the pump panel) impede the operation of the stream? Do you have a means to extend the gun to a higher level, hydraulically or electrically, so it can operate efficiently over the cab and body of the vehicle?
These are all key points you need to consider before writing your apparatus specs. I’ve seen several mistakes in this process that have cost a pretty penny to correct after a vehicle was delivered.
Many departments are having master stream devices installed over the pump panel or at the rear of the hosebed with remote-control operations at the pump panel or remote control joy stick that can be operated by the pump operator, several feet away from the apparatus. This means a firefighter doesn’t have to climb onto the top of the hosebed or over the pump panel—which is not only safer, but also frees up a firefighter for use on the fireground.
The cost of design and installation is another big issue to consider, especially if the manufacturer has to mount the device in an awkward location and install extra plumbing to feed the gun.
The design is solely up to your apparatus committee and what they think is best for your department. Like I always say, if you are thoughtful about your department needs and plan accordingly, it’s a lot harder to go wrong when you write your specs. Good luck!
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