Size does matter when it comes to industrial emergency response vehicles. For a lot of fire chiefs, the ideal apparatus is an 11-foot-tall behemoth complete with a 500 horsepower engine, a 3,000 gpm foam pump and a 500 gallon tank.
However, if you need something for industrial emergencies from the opposite end of the scale, such as an off-road 4X4 outfitted with 55 to 70 gallons of water, five gallons of foam and a 100-foot long booster hose, Mike Brady of Emergency Equipment – ‘All Terrain Res-Q’ thinks small in a big way.
“We don’t call them small fire trucks. We call them MERVs – Mini Emergency Response Vehicles, or EUVs – Emergency Utility Vehicles,” Brady said. “Plus, we offer two designs of off road firefighting trailers towable by larger ATVs – All Terrain Vehicles, for mines and other large outdoor industrial sites,” he added.
The logic is simple. Driving a pickup truck-sized emergency vehicle down the isle of a manufacturing plant is usually impossible. But driving a fork lift down the same isle is standard operating procedure. “A MERV is about the same width as a heavy duty fork lift,” Brady said. “So wherever I can take that fork lift I can take a MERV.”
Brady’s company represents three manufacturers as a factory representative, distributor or master distributor of off-road fire, rescue and emergency response vehicles and/or trailers. Whether they are limited to off-road use depends on state and local laws, and/or their intended mission.
“You can order the base vehicle with turn signals, break lights and so on, because in some states you can use them on the highway in limited situations, as long as you meet the state’s Department of Transportation requirements for an on-road vehicle.” John Deere Gators, Polaris Rangers, Kawasaki Mules and others can all be ordered with a “street legal” package, he said.
Small vehicles used for industrial emergency protection is nothing new. Three years ago Brady made a proposal to a tractor plant operating an aging fleet of modified golf carts for fire fighting and haz-mat first response. That purchase got pushed back several times. In the summer of 2011 he was told it may again be pulled from the budget in response to an uncertain market forecast. Brady responded. “I suggest that someone remind the bean counters they are protecting a multi-billion dollar manufacturing complex with 23-year-old modified golf carts. How will you explain that to the Board of Directors when there’s a fire or haz-mat incident that gets out of control for lack of adequate rapid response capabilities?”
Within six weeks, Brady had a purchase order.
Emergency Equipment offers a variety of options when it comes to converting off-road vehicles for emergency use. Some companies purchase the emergency equipment as an add-on unit or “insert,” then take charge of the installation themselves. Other companies opt for a fully outfitted vehicle delivered as a turn-key operation, like the MERV or an EUV. Simply unwrap it, turn the key and it’s ready to go.
“You could buy a pickup truck from a Chevy dealer, take it down to Auto Zone, put a lot of goodies on it to make it an off-road truck and save $4,000 to $5,000,” Brady said. “The difference is in the convenience factor. If the purchaser prefers to hand me a check, I will hand him the keys, and he’s in business.”
Writing specifications for a MERV, EUV, or off road firefighting trailer is much the same as any other fire fighting vehicle. Brady bluntly stated: “First, you need to clearly define the mission.”
“If the customer says to me, I want a dual purpose MERV, meaning a mini emergency response vehicle that is for both emergency medical and fire responses,” Brady said “We can accomplish both a couple of different ways.”
“It can be done with more customization (and more expense) on a MERV platform. However, we may also offer the EUV platform and save them thousands of dollars in custom modifications if it’s not necessary,” Brady said.
One of our customers wanted to transport players off a football field in the fall, but in the spring and summer they had to be prepared to fight dozens of wild fires, he said.
As the solution, Emergency Equipment provided a John Deere Gator with an ambulance cot platform and a ‘Fire-Cot’ skid on wheels that lock into the same mounting system as the ambulance cot. Either can be used with the same vehicle as needed, Brady said.
With MERVs, as well as EUVs, the warranty on the vehicle itself remains with the company that built it. “If you have a problem with the chassis, you can go to your local off road utility vehicle dealer because the warranty is through Polaris, or John Deere, or Kawasaki, etc.,” Brady said. “We had a problem develop about six months after delivery with the battery charging system on a 100 percent electric 4X4 vehicle. The customer took it to their local Polaris dealer who simply replaced the battery charger.”
Also, critical components, like the fire pump, hose reel, booster tank and foam systems, are covered by their respective manufacturers. Brady said, “As we use only professional grade equipment from suppliers like Darley-Davey, Hannay, and Scotty, end users are assured of initial quality and long term reliability.”
Despite the economy, Brady said the industrial side of his business has seen steady growth during the past six years. The need for MERVs and EUVs varies from plant to plant. “It goes directly back to their defined mission,” he said.
“If a facility covers a square mile under one roof, and it has a stand pipe every 50 to 250 feet (depending on fire codes), you still need the means of rapidly getting trained personnel to the seat of the fire for a fast knock down. So, why not have a vehicle that travels safely between those stand pipes as well?”
Emergency Equipment can tailor MERVs, EUVs, or the All Terrain Res-Q fire fighting trailers (known as an ATRFF) to the exact needs of an individual industrial facility, Brady said.
“We can provide fire /rescue bed inserts independent of the vehicle, or with the vehicle as an EUV. Or, we can provide the custom body for a MERV built on the utility vehicle of your choice. Or, we can provide an off road firefighting trailer if that’s what your unique mission calls for. You tell us what your needs are and we will design a safe and effective way to accomplish the mission.”