Considering that each truck is hand-built to order, purchasing a Fire Engine necessitates a committee dedicated to the design process in contrast to purchasing a Dodge straight off the lot. The truck’s design is based on the equipment that will be installed on it by the committee.
The Fire Truck Committee needs to be aware of the truck’s purpose, such as whether it is being used as a rescue truck, engine pumper, ladder truck, or wildland truck. They also need to know where the tools should be placed for maximum effectiveness and efficiency, the appropriate size pumps, the types of gauges that are required, and where the gauges should be installed. To see it through, you have to collaborate with the manufacturers every step of the way. The fire truck’s design must be modified to accommodate the particular requirements of that fire department.
Rocky Mountain Fire’s fire trucks are designed by Ken Carpenter, a fire engineer in Boulder, Colorado, in collaboration with Sutphen Fire Trucks, Pierce, and other fire truck manufacturers. Ken has a lot of experience designing fire engines thanks to his years spent working on them as a mechanic for the City of Boulder. “By engine, I don’t just mean the motor itself” says The Fire Engine has pumps to spray water, gauges to control the pumps, various nozzles and adapters to attach hoses, tools for disassembling cars to rescue people who have been in accidents, and tools for entering burning homes to put out fires. Because a firefighter’s time is more valuable than money because it could save someone’s life, all of these items are arranged so that they are easily accessible.
“Ken claims that helping people is the part of his job that he finds most fulfilling. I enjoy helping to regain control over things that have gotten out of hand.” In January 1995, Ken started working as a volunteer firefighter. He was working as a mechanic for the City of Boulder at the time. He loved his volunteer work so much that he was hired on as a full-time firefighter in August of 1999. He was given the title of engineer quickly and is now in charge of maintaining the fire trucks. That is no easy task with 15 engines.
Ken’s interest in mechanics has always been strong. As a child, he dissected his bicycles. He then began disassembling motorcycles and automobiles. Now, his thought process is driven by mechanical concepts. He then transfers his ideas to paper and, in collaboration with the manufacturer, puts them into practice for the Fire Engines. What he enjoys most about his job is the process.
Keeping up with all the younger guys is the hardest part of Ken’s job. He is regarded as one of the older firefighters at only 45 years old. Fighting a fire demands a lot of physical endurance. Firefighters put forth their best effort while working long hours under extreme stress while fighting a fire. Because you frequently receive a call in the middle of the night, putting you from asleep to emergency mode in just 60 seconds, good physical and mental health is crucial to managing the stress. Due to this, fighting fires is one of the five most stressful jobs. It places firefighters at a high risk for heart attacks in addition to being one of the top ten most dangerous jobs.
Dealing with members of the public who are not involved in the accident and who refuse to move out of the way so that the fire truck can pass is Ken’s least favorite aspect of his job. Personal vehicles are now manufactured with improved sound sealing which, in addition to people talking on cell phones, listening to loud stereos and/or their kids, they don’t notice that you are running “emergent” and they simply keep driving.
In general, rescue efforts following accidents involve the use of fire tools. You only need to ask Tools of the Trade Editor Rick Schwolsky how that is.
Ken’s favorite tool is the Fire Truck itself but here is a list to show you just what’s on it:
1. Hurst’s Jaws of Life hydraulic spreader is used to remove crushed car doors in order to rescue trapped victims.
2. Hydraulic Ram – used to take off the steering wheel or floor of a vehicle
3. Utilized to cut a car’s frame or remove the roof are hydraulic cutters.
4. Stihl Utility Chain Saw
5. Stihl Gas-powered Circular saw
6. Gas-powered Stihl Rescue Saw for slicing through roofs.
7. Various Axes, Pike poles and prying and Cutting Tools – Ken’s idea was to put it on a swing out rack
8. SCBA’s – Self contained breathing apparatus
9. Nozzles, adaptors – tools to spray large amounts of water
10. ‘Waterous’ 1500 gpm pump from St. Paul, Minnesota
11. Intake pump to get water from ponds
12. Equipment for ice and water rescue, including climbing helmets and a boogie board for water rescue.
13. Station tools include Craftsman air compressors, battery-operated Makita drills, and various hand tools.
and of course: Ladders