Thursday, January 12, 2012

Somebody's Getting a New Engine

On a recent trip to the Fire Engine Doctor's recently, I found exactly one new engine being readied for delivery. Of course I felt a need to take some pictures and share them.

This engine has been at the doctor's for several weeks getting equipment, mounting brackets and storage accessories installed. After all of that is done, it will be accepted and off to the radio shop it will go.

It is a pretty conventional engine, just a few things that are sort of unique to it and the agency where it will be put to work.

Top mount pump panels are not that common around here, but we love them. As 12 of our 14 stations spend a lot of time on the freeway, we like the protection and the visibility that the top mount panel provides the engineer. Every structure engine that we have purchased since I came on in 1983 has had one, four engines prior to that were so equipped. I can't think of any agencies within a couple of hundred miles of here that use them, it is part of our culture.

This engine is going to replace a '90s vintage E-1, one which is rather tired. The E-1 will be retained as a reserve engine, a role that it will keep for five years or more. We just can't keep enough reserve engines around here, we have a few that are almost 25 years old. A reserve engine's life around here is not an easy one, they are in service more often than not.

We like electro-mechanical sirens, especially the Federal Q2B. Although I have no hard data to back it up, it is my experience that the Q2B is louder than the electronic sirens. I was lucky, our units were equipped with both. I usually used the electronic siren as a turn it on and forget it device, useful when my face was buried in the map or pre-plan book. The Q2B was used as necessary. Of course the air horn was liberally applied as required. I miss mashing the foot switch and hearing that Q2B howl.

This will be our first engine with the mandated high visibility paint pattern on the rear end, though the haz-mat unit is so equipped. Meh.

This will also be the first engine in the last 30+ years which is not equipped with a Detroit Diesel engine. Apparently, Detroit is out of the fire apparatus engine market, so a Cummins engine it is. 

The crews at 2s will enjoy this engine, I am quite sure that it will provide many years of service.

Thanks for reading,


  1. I just can't understand why more departments don't go to the top mount pump panel. Completely aside from operator safety and visibility the one's I've seen seem to offer a little bit more compartment space. I just don't see any downsides to offset the major pluses.

    And speaking as a humble member of the driving public I can confirm that those Federal Qs are more audible. Local FD runs strictly electronic boxes. I can hear them a couple of blocks away depending on terrain. Next town over's rigs all have Qs. I can here them when they roll out the door and their nearest station in four miles away with a a shopping center, four lane interstate, and a couple of neighborhoods between us. Besides, an electronic siren makes me look all over for lights so I can figure out if it's PD, ambo, or fire. THEN I can decide if/where to move to. A Q tell me instantly that it's A.)FD and B.) range, direction, and closure. For some reason the electronic sound is harder for me to pinpoint.

    Here's hoping that rig's life is dull and uneventful and that she always comes home with a full crew.

    Thanks Cap,


  2. I always preferred the top-mount pump, but our merged department went to side mounts mostly out of "tradition", and guys not wanting to be "going up and down all the time". Nice to see a new topper going into service. I still think they're the safest, and always afford a view of the fire building.

  3. I see you've got high-side compartments on both sides. I presume the SCBA reside in the cab; what do you carry in all the high-sides? We have two Freightliner/E-One engines, the elder of which is due for replacement. The new one will have a custom cab with SCBA seats. At the present, the main occupancy of our high-sides are the SCBA, so I'm trying to decide if I really need them any more. I'm leaning toward putting the ladders on a drop-down rack on the curb side, and the hard suction on a drop-down rack on the road side. I expect there will be ample room in the cab and low compartments for the few small tools that are stored along with the SCBA in the current high-sides. Any thoughts?

  4. BG and 11-C - Really the only issue that I ever noticed was that it does take a little more work jumping up and down at the panel. I've had to do it on a marginal leg, although a bother - it was doable.

    Long live Q2B's long may they spin!

    NYEMT - we carry extinguishers water coolers and long tools on the upper driver's side compartments, RIC packs, rope rescue equipment and salvage stuff on the passenger's side uppers. (plus some other stuff too)

    The drop down racks save a lot of space, my advice is to get as much compartment space as you can, units always seem to get more equipment, not less.

    Thanks for the comments.

  5. Cap (Ret'd),

    Our Dept has had engines with top-mounted pump panels since 84, but our future engines will not. While many of the troops like them, we cannot justify the costs:
    1. $$$
    2. Length-adds two-three feet to the wheelbase, which negatively affects turning radius. When 95% of our runs don't even use the pump, you are losing functionality every day for that once a month opportunity to stand up there and be cool.
    3. Running with only 3 on an engine, it's too much trouble for the FEO to go up/down all the time. We have found that the side mounts are more easily attended to-the operator can see the guages and tank level lights from the ground while changing bottles or pulling lines.
    4. In the winter, the likelihood of a slip and fall for the FEO increases dramatically.
    5. Visibility doesn't matter any more with our SOPs. We reverse lay 95% of the time, so you are a block away and can't see the fire anyway.

    So, for all those reasons, we will be going away from the top-mounts. Hope that helps the earlier commenters who didn't see the disadvantages.


  6. John - An agency certainly has to take all factors into consideration when specing out apparatus. As we spend a lot of time on the highway, I am sure that top-mounts will be in our future for quite a while Of course, if our next chief comes from the outside, all bets are off.

    Thanks for the comment.