By Diana Simeon
To the casual observer, it can seem that fire trucks haven’t changed all that much over
the decades. They’re still red, still shiny, and, no matter your age, still impressive as
they whiz past.
However, take a look under the hood – or anywhere else on a new truck for that
matter – and you’ll learn just how much these vehicles (and the equipment on them)
have changed. In fact, today’s modern fire trucks and accompanying equipment allow
firefighters to work more quickly and efficiently than ever before, which of course
provides big benefits to the communities they serve, including Shaker Heights.
Take the new pumper truck at Fire Station 2, which was built by Appleton,
Wisconsin-based Pierce Manufacturing and went into service in December (check out the
video at bit.ly/shakerheights-youtube). You won’t be surprised to learn it’s more energy
efficient (all lighting is LED, for example) and fuel efficient than the 20-year-old truck
it replaced. But the upgrades don’t stop there. The rescue tools on this truck are battery
powered, which means they’re grab and go. Gone are the days when the tools required a
power cord to be plugged into an idling truck in order to get the necessary power.
“Now we can use the tools the minute we arrive,” explains Fire Chief Pat Sweeney.
“With our battery-powered jaws of life tool, we can cut a car open in half the time.”
Battery-powered fans, used to eliminate smoke, require just one firefighter to set
up (it used to take two). Setting up lights at a scene is also much more efficient.
“In the past we’d have to start up a diesel generator to get lights going,” says
Sweeney. “Now because all our lights are LED, we can use much smaller and quieter
generators.” A single diesel generator used to cost the Department anywhere from
$20,000 to $30,000. The smaller generators are under $1,000.
The new truck’s cab and body were customized for the specific needs of Shaker’s Fire
Department, as are all the Department’s vehicles. This is standard industry practice
and allows fire departments to build vehicles that work best for their communities.
Departments also take into consideration what equipment is nearby when designing a
new truck, since fire departments routinely provide mutual aid.
“We try to complement each other’s equipment, so not everyone has the same exact
truck,” says Sweeney.
“This new truck’s design specifications were more than 300 pages,” he adds.
“We started with a generic set of blue prints and worked over the year to tailor it to what
8 WINTER 2020 | WWW.SHAKER .LIFE
Every compartment – its size, its
placement, its contents – is carefully
thought through to maximize efficiency.
“We also moved the hose down, which
makes it easier to get it off the truck,”
says Sweeney. “Everything is customized
to allow us to work as best we can.”
Unlike any other truck in the City’s
fleet, the new truck also has “clean cab”
technology, which dramatically reduces
firefighters’ exposure to the carcinogenic
residue left behind from turnout gear
after a fighting a fire.