Speccing a Multipurpose Apparatus

Many fire departments around the country have been upgrading their command and hazmat vehicles. To save costs and manpower, some have been combining these vehicles into one.

One of the more progressive fire departments in southern Florida is the Davie Fire Department (DFD), located in central Broward County. Recently, it took delivery of a multi-purpose command/hazmat/rescue vehicle built by Emergency Vehicles Incorporated (EVI).

Myriad Needs

The DFD protects more than 90,000 residents in a 42-square-mile area. Several nationally known universities, large Fortune 500 companies and interstates I-595 and I-75 are located in Davie. Nova Southeastern University, the practice home of the Miami Dolphins, is also located in the DFD’s response district.

“Our district consists of commercial and industrial areas, low- to middle-income residential areas, multimillion-dollar mansions and even yachts in some of our marinas,” says DFD Battalion Chief Glenn Samson. “We also have a lot of canals and tight streets to maneuver around.”

About 3 years ago, the DFD began to spec the design for a new command vehicle that would be larger than its current one, as well as more maneuverable, and would be used for dive rescue, incident command, extrication, hazmat and technical rescue. “The committee that researched the design and helped write the specs consisted of the training chief, the fleet coordinator, drivers, firefighters, lieutenants and EMS personnel,” Samson says. “We wanted everyone to have input in the design, since everyone would ultimately have to use the vehicle.”

The vehicle was designed to grow with the town. It’s also set up to respond anywhere in the Florida.

Done Right the First Time

After competitive bidding, the DFD awarded the final bid to EVI, a local emergency vehicle builder located in Lake Park, Fla., that has 38 years of experience building all types of specialized vehicles for fire service and law enforcement agencies.

The DFD’s close proximity to the EVI plant enabled the committee to visit the factory numerous times to view construction progress of the vehicle. “EVI was great to work with during the entire process,” Samson says. “This vehicle is tasked with numerous types of responses and is set up with a great deal of equipment. We wanted it constructed to meet all of our needs, and wanted it done right the first time.”

The DFD experienced virtually no problems with the vehicle and took delivery less than 12 months from the time it wrote the specs.

The town of Davie purchased the vehicle outright. The hazmat team received a 3-year grant to equip the vehicle, pay for training and for the team to become certified. Of the DFD’s 120 personnel, 27 members are hazmat technician-level trained; a minimum of six of them are on duty at any given time. They are also certified as a Level 4 team, which means they can respond within 1 hour to any emergency in Florida.

All DFD members are in the process of being trained not only on the equipment carried on the vehicle, but in driving the truck.

Special Features

“The tractor-trailer arrangement of the vehicle was designed for better maneuverability around the tight streets in our response district,” Samson says. “Its larger size also enables us to carry more equipment to handle just about any type of emergency.”

The vehicle is set up to respond to all structure fires, heavy rescue with extrication, hazmat, rope rescue, confined space and other technical rescue operations.

It features roll-out canopies on both sides that provide a shaded rehab area from the sometimes brutal Florida sun. The truck can also be used to fill SCBA bottles, and its light tower provides extra lighting. The inside of the cab also houses a command center that sleeps four members and has a sink and bathroom.

Since interoperability is paramount these days, the command center includes several radios and computers for officers to use.

It’s the Economy

As we all know, the economy is forcing cities all over the country to cut costs and close fire companies. Vehicles that can do more with less seem to be catching on as a result. Getting more equipment and assets to the emergency scene quickly with fewer vehicles is probably going to be the norm for the foreseeable future.

Finding the right apparatus manufacturer to help your department accomplish this task is paramount. The thought process must begin several years before you expect to take delivery. The DFD seems to have done it the right way by picking a manufacturer that was concerned about the department’s needs and had the manufacturing experience to build a vehicle that could perform the tasks the DFD needed it to.

Begin thinking about what your community might need in the future and only then start formulating the specs for your specialized needs. Talk with several manufacturers to determine their experience in building the type of vehicle you’re looking for. In addition, browse apparatus Web sites for recent deliveries, then call those departments that have recently taken delivery of specialized rigs.

By reaching out to other departments and doing your homework ahead of time, you’ll be prepared for the pros and cons of specialty vehicles.

Davie (Fls.) Fire Department

  • 120 uniformed firefighters
  • 5 stations
  • 14,000 fire/EMS runs per year

Specialized Specs
More details on Davie Fire Department’s new all-purpose command vehicle

  •  Spartan Evolution tractor cab
  • 40′ aluminum command body
  • 45-kW Westerbeke diesel generator
  • Onan Equinox invertor/converter
  • 9,000-watt Will-Burt light mast
  • Fire Research telescopic light mast
  • Bauer breathing-air compressor
  • Robinson roll-up doors
  • Whelen LED light package
  • Hannay reels for electric and air lines
  • Portable winch

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