A plant in Baton Rouge, LA, needed a fire truck with a shorter wheelbase that would be easier to drive through the tight confines of a process area. Refineries are becoming more and more congested so maneuverability is becoming increasingly important, said Dee Lott, E-One's industrial product manager.
Only one solution was possible. To shorten the wheelbase, E-One moved the fire truck's pump to the rear.
"The new truck is about 30 feet long with a 174-inch wheelbase, making it quick to handle," Lott said.
E-One showed the rear mounted industrial vehicle complete with 3,000 gpm pump at the April 2005 Fire Department Instructors Conference and demonstrated it at the 2005 Williams Fire & Hazard Control Industrial Fire and Hazard Training Event.
Operating within tighter confines is often the case at industrial facilities across the country, said Terry Planck, in charge of E-One's North American industrial sales.
"In the case of Baton Rouge, the city has grown up around the refinery," Planck said. "There is only so much land, so any expansion means tighter operations areas. You either have to build vertically or use narrower roads. Everyone is trying to cram more operations into less space."
Although this seems like a big change for industrial pumpers, dealing with less space has been a reality for municipal fire departments for some time, he said.
"Even at airports the gates are getting smaller and everything is more congested," Planck said. "We are having to adapt designs to meet their needs and requirements."
Likewise, rear-mounted pumpers have proven their value in municipal operations through ease of access, Lott said.
"Instead of pulling up to a scene and having to set up in a certain way, a
rear mounted pumper can back in and have everything come from the rear," she said. "This was more of a Canadian driven design but we adapted it here. Now we're applying it to our industrial truck, the highest performance vehicles we make."
The goal, said Planck, is to make the truck as short as possible "and still have plenty of push."
Safety was another important factor in the shift to a rear mounted pump, said Lott.
"We wanted to make sure the operator was away from any of the hoses," Lott said. "We have no obstacles for the operator of the pump panel. Everything comes out of the rear so the pump operator is free and clear. He doesn't have to step over anything."
Easy-to-use pump panels and operator panel setups have been another popular change, said Planck.
"All the hoses and discharges are low enough to make it an easier weight level to connect," he said. "You don't have to struggle to connect hoses."
Another important change has been in choice of construction materials -- aluminum versus steel, Lott said.
"We have a couple of customers who have specified stainless steel over aluminum," Lott said. "Our product line offers top mount, side mount and now rear mount in either aluminum or stainless steel, whichever best serves our customers' needs." o