Proper maintenance of apparatus begins with good specifications and picking a manufacturer that values quality engineering and use of quality components.
Fire apparatus continues to get more complex and high-tech year after year, and manufacturers are constantly looking to make maintenance easier for firefighters and mechanics.
“E-ONE believes that providing adequate service access is a key element in product design and development,” said Joe Hedges, Product Manager for E-ONE, one of the nation’s largest apparatus builders, based in Ocala, FL. “Hinged pump panels are available to provide greater access to plumbing [and other] components.”
For those specifying apparatus, selection of body material can make a big difference in the future maintenance on fire trucks.
At Midwest Fire, an apparatus builder in Luverne, MN, bodies and tanks are constructed from polypropylene.
“That means apparatus bodies and tanks are going to be maintenance free,” said Brett Jensen, vice president and general manager of Midwest Fire. “That means there’s no rust or corrosion. And, you can take a sledge hammer to it and you’re not going to dent it. For a body material, it doesn’t get any better.”
Paying Attention to Details
Some apparatus builders, like E-ONE, pay attention to details that help with long-term maintenance.
Hedges said the company has standardized mechanical pump seals in place of pump packings, which require regular adjusting to prevent leaking, thus eliminating a maintenance item.
E-ONE has also started using maintenance-free bushings in place of pins that require routine greasing, Hedges said, adding that E-ONE has also moved to Torx fasteners throughout the apparatus construction, which are less likely to strip than Phillips head fasteners.
Hedges said E-ONE makes “every effort to provide access to manual overrides on electric valves.”
And speaking of electric components, Hedges said E-ONE and IDEX, in a joint project, developed AXIS Smart Truck Technology which is standard on all custom chassis apparatus.
“AXIS is connected to major vehicle electrical systems to provide real-time information relative to the health of the apparatus that can be accessed from any web enabled device,” Hedge said.