By Bob Vaccaro
Published Sunday, July 1, 2012
In the current state of apparatus design, we have so much more to choose from. The computer age has ushered in an era with newer panels with flow meters, if you so desire, and even newer digital designs.
Let’s take a look at some of the newer designs and technology out there, and then I’ll explain why I think the pump panel evolution is coming full circle.
KME introduced at FDIC a new rescue pumper with a smaller digital pump panel. The new panel offers simplified pump operations and maintenance. The all-digital, touch-screen pump display provides both pressure and flow readings, and a central controller for all valves to minimize cost. In addition, without handles on the panel, it’s easy to access the pump for full-access maintenance.
Spartan ERV introduced its Transformer apparatus two years ago. Central to the Transformer is the new pump location. In a traditional pumper, the pump house and its controls occupy approximately 164 cubic feet of space. By placing the pump forward of the rear wheels, Spartan ERV eliminated the need for the pump house and dramatically reduced the space required for the mechanism. The Transformer frees up more than 130 cubic feet of pass-through compartment space for mounting equipment, storing equipment and other departmental needs. Additionally, shifting the pump just forward of the rear wheels improves break-over angle, making it easier for the apparatus to navigate speed bumps, curbs and other obstacles without damaging its mid-section. The Transformer also features a shorter wheelbase for improved maneuverability.
When it comes to the Pierce PUC, Pierce redesigned the pump panel, making it narrower so extra-large compartments could be installed, and took the intakes and discharges away from the panel, placing them lower and out of the way of the pump operator. In addition, they made for easier access to the pump for maintenance—an improvement in my book.
Last but not least is the E-One eMax. The eMax has a pump operator’s panel that’s less than 24" wide, allowing for more compartment space. The vehicle also allows for low intakes for easier hose connection and no cab overhang to restrict panel access.
Aside from these improvements, manufacturers still give you the choice of side-mount, top-mount, rear-mount and, in some cases, even enclosed top-mount enclosures for inclement weather operation pump panel access. The choice is all yours.
Clearly there are a lot of great options out there; however, in the past year or so, I’ve starting to see the pump panel evolution coming full circle. What I mean by that is that even though we have all this new technology, some apparatus committees have tried out a new technology on one or two of their engines and ultimately reverted to the basic manual gate valve designs, removing the computer control from the vehicles entirely.
Only time will tell whether this is good or bad, but one of the main reasons I hear for this return to manual pump panels is that the older designs don’t go out of service as much as the vehicles with the newer technology. Further exploration of this issue would certainly be necessary to determine if this is the case with most departments or only those that have a heavy response load and are therefore using the pumpers a significant deal more.
In any case, have your committee look into all types of pump panels to determine your department’s needs. Then plan your specs accordingly for your new vehicle.
Comment Now: Post Your Thoughts & Comments on This Story