By Bob Vaccaro
See Pierce Manufacturing Inc. in Product Connect
Published Monday, July 16, 2012
| From the September 2012 Issue of FireRescue
Most U.S. fire service leaders are familiar with the various target hazards that they have in their respective jurisdictions. Some have adapted various standard operating procedures (SOPs) and purchased firefighting apparatus that gets the job done for their communities. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office Department of Fire Rescue, located in south Florida, is no exception.
When you hear the name Broward Sheriff’s Office Department of Fire Rescue (BSO DFR), you may get the impression that this department operates as a public safety organization with police officers operating in dual roles as firefighters—but that is a misconception.
The BSO DFR originated in October 2003 when all operational and administrative responsibilities were transferred from the Broward County Board of County Commissioners to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The department’s more than 700 personnel provide fire suppression, fire protection, EMS and educational programs for most unincorporated areas of Broward County and to the municipalities of Weston, Pembroke Park, Cooper City, Lauderdale Lakes, Dania Beach and Deerfield Beach through contract agreements. Additionally, the department serves Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Port Everglades. (For more information, see the sidebar at the end of this article.)
Now that you have a little history about the department, let me tell you about two unique purchases that the department made to service their area.
Budget-Conscious Without Compromise
BSO DFR Chief Neal de Jesus has budget problems just like many fire departments. He must also account for specific hazards and issues in providing EMS and firefighting capabilities in his area.
“When we decide to replace our apparatus, we, like most other departments in the country, usually go by age and years of service: 10 years frontline when possible, then put into reserve status for several years,” de Jesus says. “However, budgets lately have had us keeping pieces in frontline service longer, due to funds not being as readily available as in the past.”
But de Jesus stresses that budget pressures have not led the department to relax its standards. “We still need to replace vehicles and competitive bidding is used for the most part,” he says. “We try to stay away from awarding low bidders just for the sake of being the lowest bidder. We write certain specs and expect the manufacturers to meet all of our specs while still being competitive.”
Standardization is also key to the department’s purchasing strategy. “We try to stay with the same manufacturer if possible for parts, service and operational consistency and training,” de Jesus says. “If we send a firefighter to work from one station to another, they won’t have a hard time adjusting to a new engine or truck.”
2 Unique Rigs
Recently, the department purchased two vehicles designed for areas of the county that couldn’t be more diverse in operational needs. The first: an engine stationed in an area that regionally services the Florida Everglades, a main thoroughfare known as Alligator Alley.
“We have one station located midway on this thoroughfare that services the eastern portion of this heavily traveled main highway,” de Jesus says. “Since this is pretty much a rural area and EMS response from the next station is a great distance away, we decided to design an engine that could be used for fire suppression as well as EMS response—if we can’t get another ambulance in a timely manner or launch Air Rescue, we can use this engine to transport.”
The majority of the calls in this area are single-vehicle rollovers with multiple victims, so the vehicle is designed with a longer wheelbase than a standard engine. Although it probably couldn’t be used easily in another urban setting, on a long stretch of highway, the turning radius isn’t a problem.
“The local dealer, Ten-8 Fire Equipment, and the Pierce engineers who helped us design this vehicle, were great to deal with,” de Jesus says. “The rear of the cab is used for EMS transport. It is roomy and has a climate-controlled area for patient treatment. We chose the Velocity chassis because of the added room in the cab, front and rear, as well as having a greater amount of compartment space. It has really worked out well for us so far.”
The second unique piece of apparatus: a Pierce Quantum pumper/tanker for the Port Everglades area. “This area is on the East Coast and is also a high target area for us,” de Jesus says. “We have two of the largest cruise ships in the country docked in this area as well as numerous fuel tank farms with fuel lines containing jet fuel that run through the state. Add to that a big industrial area with just about every conceivable hazard imaginable.”
Because of these hazards, the BSO DFR has traditionally maintained large water and foam capabilities for its apparatus in this area of the county. This purchase was no different. “We had to replace an older unit and we felt that the Pierce Quantum was the way to go,” de Jesus says. “The new unit gives us greater water and foam capabilities as well as compartments to carry added equipment. We have two portable pumps on trailers, as well as the capability to have 12" hose on reels that we can stretch to have virtually above-ground water mains.”
Although this, too, was not a simple vehicle to build, de Jesus reports that Ten-8 and Pierce “came through with flying colors.”
It Can Work for You
Designing one special-purpose vehicle is a daunting task for any fire department. Designing two units for two entirely different operational needs is really an accomplishment. The BSO DFR worked with the local dealer and Pierce to come up with some solutions. Proper spec writing and well as excellent engineering design combined to create vehicles that will meet the specific needs of the department’s response areas.
Chief de Jesus and his apparatus committee painstakingly worked out every detail on both vehicles to make them work for the department—something you should be doing when you design any new vehicle. Identify the target hazards in your response district and design your new vehicle accordingly. Although your budget might not be as large as some departments, you can take this into consideration when you spec out a certain apparatus. If you need to work on a commercial chassis instead of a custom unit, then design around that concept. Just make sure that the dealer and manufacturer you choose are on the same page.
Sidebar: About the BSO Department of Fire Rescue
The BSO DFR operates five battalions in 22 different locations throughout the county and includes 17 engines, seven aerials, one industrial fire truck, three ARFF trucks, one helicopter, 23 ALS transport units and a cross-staffed brush truck, chemical fire suppression truck and foam tanker.
The department includes 22 stations for fire suppression and ALS medical rescue operate in various locations in the county, 15 as engine companies and five as aerial companies. There is also an Air Rescue station located at the Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport.
The BSO DFR also staffs teams that respond countywide to hazmat incidents, technical rescues, air rescue and Everglades rescues.
Sidebar: Broward County Specs
- Pierce Velocity chassis
- 1,500-gpm Hale pump
- 500-gallon tank
- 450-hp Detroit Diesel DD13 engine
- Allison EVS 4000 transmission
- Husky Foam System
- Pierce Quantum chassis
- 10' 11" height
- 3,000-gpm Hale 8FG pump
- 1,800-gallon foam tank
- 500-gallon water tank
- Harrison hydraulic generator
- Hydraulic ladder gantry
- 500-hp Detroit Diesel DD13 engine
- Allison EVS 4000 transmission
- Husky 300 foam system
- TFT Wireless Monsoon with Akron Renegade
- Two Akron Hi Flow 2,000-gpm electric monitors
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