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Apparatus

A Look Inside the BME Service Department

bme service department

When you buy a fire truck from Boise Mobile Equipment (BME), you become part of the BME family. Not only is your new apparatus guaranteed a long and reliable service lifetime, but you’re promised our continued support along the way through our service department. Although we don’t expect to see BME-built engines return to our shop too often, accidents happen and regular maintenance is required. That is why we maintain a service department and service centers across the country, each specifically trained to work on BME engines whenever they need the extra care. 

No matter what type of service your BME fire truck requires, we can provide what you need. With services ranging from maintenance and repairs to refurbishment and retrofitting, we will maintain the longevity of your apparatus for decades to come.

fire truck service center
repair fire truck water pump

Maintaining a 20 Year Fire Truck

When BME opened its doors in 1990, our goal was to build a fire apparatus that would not need to be replaced every few years. Since then, our apparatus have stood the test of time, providing fire departments with safe, reliable, and cost-effective equipment. We are proud to build a “20 Year Fire Truck,” promising our clients at least two decades of service from a BME apparatus. 

Many of our earliest fire trucks are still in service today thanks to the durable tubular construction of our apparatus bodies. We recently had a 1998 BME Type 3 CAFS apparatus in our shop, owned and operated by Sterling Systems LLC Fire Fighting Services in Helena, MT. After twenty-two years of faithful service, the fire truck needed a pump rebuild. While this is not a problem we see often in our apparatus, our service department managed to finish the work ahead of schedule and got the fire truck back in the field.

Another recent job involved a Wildland Type 6 we built for Teton Village Fire Department in 2000. This apparatus required a standard refurbish, including pump and electrical service, plumbing modification, replacing the foam system with a FoamPro and a new foam tank, and installing a new lighting package.

bme service department
refurbish old fire truck

No Job Too Big or Too Small

The BME Service Department specializes in variety. No job is too big, small, old, or new for our technicians. Not only are they uniquely trained and authorized to work on BME custom apparatus, but they are experienced in servicing all manufacturers of fire trucks and their parts. Tom Groat, our lead technician, has developed a passion for refurbishing old fire trucks from his years restoring vintage hot rods.

Besides repairs and refurbishments, our service department is continually performing routine maintenance to optimize apparatus performance. The beginning of fire season is especially busy as the US Forest Service brings in their engines for annual pump tests and inspections. Not only do they bring BME apparatus to us, but we often work on wildland engines built by our competitors as well. This is because our headquarters is located closer to the states that see the most activity during wildfire season, as well as the trust we have developed and maintained with our returning clients. 

Another common service is rechassising. While BME fire trucks sometimes require a replacement of their chassis to increase service lifespans, their bodies are typically in excellent condition. The way we build our engine’s frames, utilizing tubular body construction, allows BME fire bodies to withstand more wear and tear in the field than most chassis. Many of our returning clients, including Ventura County Fire Department, have brought their older BME engines to be rechassised.

fire truck manufacturer

A One-Stop Shop For First Responders

Boise Mobile Equipment was envisioned as a one-stop shop for first responders, growing and evolving to meet the needs of the heroes who protect our communities. Since its inception, BME has branched out in order to reach that goal, offering apparatus service, an online parts store, and emergency vehicle upfitting alongside our core function of building the safest and most durable fire engines on the market. That’s the BME difference.

If you have any questions about our service department, feel free to reach out.

Types of Fire Engines and Their Importance

Three Fire Apparatus, red type 3, USFS green Type 4, and a red Type 6 parked on asphalt in front of forgery

Fire engines have advanced throughout the last four centuries. The first fire engines were human-propelled water pumps with no room for personnel. Around the end of the 1800s, the threat of fire within densely populated areas brought about paid firefighters equipped with horses to pull the early apparatus.  The modern-day fire engine emerged in the 1960s armed with water pumps, a reservoir, and enclosed seats for the crew. 

 As the fire threats began to change, so did the specialization of the fire engine. 

What are the different types of fire engines?

Taking a look at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus, it classifies the vehicles by type and function. This is important because it created universal fire truck standards and terminology to help fire departments find an apparatus that will fit their needs.

Fire Engine Types and Classification:

Type 1 Fire Engine

A Type 1 fire truck, typically responds to structural fires and is the most common type of fire truck in use today. Densely populated areas depend on a Type 1 fire apparatus to efficiently maneuver to the call and deploy an array of ladders to reach fires in elevated buildings.

A typical custom pumper holds around 400 to 500 gallons of water.  Oftentimes the amount of water needed to extinguish the fire cannot be supplied by the tank alone. Finding a reliable water supply is one of the most fundamental operations when arriving on the fire scene.

In addition, Type 1 pumpers are equipped to carry up to 4 firefighters. Commonly found on these apparatus are SCBA’s, chainsaws, circular saws, and many different types of specialized equipment dependent on the department’s needs.

Type 2 Fire Engine

commerical pumper

A Type 2 fire truck features many of the same specifications and tools as the Type 1 fire truck. They are also the typical truck seen in a suburban area responding to structural fires. 

Commercial pumpers are more compact but still holds the same amount of equipment as Type 1. Typically seen first on the scene to start fire extinguishing tasks until more support arrives.

Type 2 pumpers typically carries 3 or 4 firefighters. Commonly found on these apparatus are SCBA’s, chainsaws, circular saws, and many different types of specialized equipment dependent on the department’s needs.

Type of Wildland Fire Engines

A Type 3, Type 4, and Type 6 are what are considered “wildland engines” or “brush trucks.” These are the vehicles that respond to wildfires and have the ability to drive in rough terrain to respond to a fire or rescue.  

Wildland engines are specially designed for the technique of pump-and-roll.  This is a tactic where the vehicle drives with the pump engaged while a firefighter uses a hose to spray water on the fire.

Type 3 Fire Engine

type 3 wildland fire engine

Type 3 has four-wheel drives to make driving over rough terrain easier and has a maximum gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of over 26,000 lbs.  The minimum number of personnel a Type 3 must carry is 3.

Type 3 brush trucks are required to have a minimum of 500 US gallons of water and pump 150 US gallons per minute at a pressure of 250 pounds per square inch. Type 3 and Type 4 often look similar to one another. However, the biggest difference is their minimum personnel and tank capacities.

Type 4 Fire Engine

type 4 fish and wildlfie

Type 4 Wildland engine is similar to a Type 3 but with very important differences. Type 4 are used to drive over rough terrain and weighs 26,000 lbs, but it sacrifices a smaller pump and less hose for a larger 750-gallon tank. The Type 4 standard of pumping is 50 US gallons per minute at a pressure of 100 pounds per square inch. The minimum number of personnel a Type 4 must carry is 2.

Type 5, Type 6, and Type 7 Fire Engine

type 6 engine

Type 5, 6, & 7 are usually built specifically for the department’s needs. These vehicles are typically pick-up truck-based with 4-wheel drive.

These engines are often seen in both wildland and suburban settings. These fire engines have a much smaller configuration than a typical Type 3 or 4 engine.  

The smaller body still allows the department to carry 50 to 400 gallons of water with the maneuverability and accessibility that you don’t have in Type 3 or 4.  

Types 5 through 7 are used heavily for the initial fire suppression response, and their GVWR’s are rated in ascending order from 26,000 lbs in Type 5 engines to 14,000 on Type 7. This engine classification is designed to hold a minimum of 2 people and carry hose diameters ranging from 1 inch to 1 ½ inch.

Conclusion

As a general rule of thumb, fire engine types are specified from largest to smallest size, Types 1-2 being the largest to carry large pumps and ladders for structure fires, and Types 5-7 being the smallest for navigating rough wildland terrain. Type 3 and 4 engines are mid-sized engines built both for wildland mobility and large water capacity. The general difference between these two is that Type 4 engines have much larger water tanks than Type 3 engines.

A Comprehensive Guide to Purchasing Your Next Fire Apparatus in 2018

boise mobile equipment water tender

Purchasing a fire apparatus today can be a complex process of determining your department’s needs, meeting with manufacturers’ representatives, specification development, and securing adequate financial support from your community’s purchasing authority.  To complete the mission of your fire department effectively, the fire crew under your authority must have dependable fire apparatus that are replaced on a maximum lifespan basis. When the purchase price for a customized fire engine is in excess of $250,000, the decision to allocate funding for a replacement fire apparatus must be supported by a thorough review and needs assessment.  Ultimately the fire chief or a ranking authority must be prepared to justify the expenditure to a board of his community constituents.  Let’s discuss a number of ways you can ensure you’ve covered all your bases before purchasing that next apparatus.

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Winterizing Your Fire Truck: Protecting your Apparatus from Harsh Winters

how to prepare your fire truck for winter

The winter weather for most people marks the time of the year that brings the holidays, skiing, slick roads, and a chance to hurl a snowball at a loved one or pesky neighbor.  As a firefighter the upcoming winter provides a separate set of challenges that must be recognized to ensure the equipment and personnel responsible for protecting the community are safe.  Historical evidence has shown the firefighting community that extended fire calls are more likely to occur during periods of severe cold.   This result comes from the public utilizing approved and unapproved heating sources to combat the cold in their homes. The colder it gets the greater the probability that our personnel will become involved in a prolonged operation where saving life and property is necessary.  It’s important to remember that the time to plan for winter firefighting operations begins long before the snowflakes start to fall.  The following questions can be used to measure how prepared you are for the onset of colder temperatures:  What has your fire department done to prepare your apparatus and personnel for winter? What has your fire department done to prepare experienced operators for winter driving?

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Fire Chief Resigns Over Municipality’s Failure to Replace Unsafe Apparatus

firefighter turnouts and gear

As a company that has relationships with volunteer firefighters in various rural communities that always seem strapped for cash, we at BME found this story of particular interest. Many volunteer departments rely on annual funding drives to help supplement local funding, but that typically still only covers the more routine operational costs such as training, maintenance, and upkeep of the fire station. Anyone who has served, especially in fire districts with high call volume, knows that the day will come when you will need to make that appeal to your municipality — or even to the citizens you’re protecting — for extra money.

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The History of Fire Engines: From Primitive Pumps to Advanced Technology

The iconic red fire engine that you often see has changed throughout history.  In early civilizations, the need for fire to heat, cook, and light homes increased the risk of house fires. So naturally, people sought a means to extinguish the blaze, resulting in hundreds of years of new apparatus designs, and innovations.  

Early 1700’s: First Patented Fire Engine Designs

Historic fire engine

Early prototypes of the fire engine were designed in England to move water from one place to another.  Once the need for firefighters became apparent, they would discharge the tanks with pumps to generate the pressure needed to reach the blazing infrastructure.

In 1721, Richard Newsham, an English inventor, recognized an opportunity. Newsham filed 2 patents that would allow him to create and control the market of fire engines during the mid-1700s in England.

Newsham’s apparatus design consisted of a wooden chassis constructed with a long and narrow frame that could easily be maneuvered. Newsham’s engine encompassed a large lever that required the efforts of two men.  The two firefighters would then begin pumping by standing with one foot on each side of the pump, throwing their weight upon each treadle alternately.  While the crew members were pumping, a leather hose was attached to the top of the apparatus that another set of firefighters directed the jet of water at the fire. 

1800-the 1900s: Development of Mobile Fire Engines – Horse Drawn to Combustion Engine Powered Apparatus

vintage fire truck

As America moved into the industrial age, larger cities, such as Boston, New York, Baltimore, and San Francisco, saw technological changes that impacted the way apparatus were being manufactured.  

The trend started with the introduction of the horse-drawn steam pumper.  The early steam fire engines were used from approximately 1840 to 1920, allowing for quick transfer of water but were still hindered by a horse’s capibilities.

The demand for more water to fight bigger fires increased the weight of the fire engine and, in turn, rendered the horse ineffective for bigger engines. 

By 1913, companies such as the Ahrens-Fox Manufacturing Company from Cincinnati and the Knox Automobile Company of Springfield, Massachusetts, were leading the conversion from steam to gas-powered. However, it soon became apparent that the advantages of using motorized vehicles vs. horse-drawn in durability and cost were too numerous to halt transformation.  

By 1925, the steam pumper had been completely replaced by motorized pumpers. Difficulties developed in adapting geared rotary gasoline engines to pumps, which then made it necessary for gasoline-powered fire engines to be outfitted with two motors; one to drive the pump and the other to propel the vehicle.  However, these pumps were gradually replaced by rotary pumps and centrifugal pumps, which are used today by most modern pumpers.

The mid to late 1900s: Development of the Ladder Truck

The move from rural to urban increased the need for more efficient apparatus.

Daniel D. Hayes, a native New York City firefighter, saw the necessity of getting firefighters to the towering buildings under threat.  Hayes developed a mounted extension ladder to the top of a ladder truck equipped with a spring-assist mechanism that raised the ladder into its elevated position. The Hayes ladder was used to allow firefighters to quickly roll up to the fire scene, raise the mounted ladder to the windows of burning buildings, and extinguish the fire and rescue victims.  These ladders would remain in service until the early 1950s.

modern BME pumper fire engine

BME Pumper

Apparatus Construction and Operation Today

Modern fire engines are packed with fire and rescue equipment, including hoses, ladders, self-contained breathing apparatus, ventilating equipment, first aid kits, and hydraulic rescue tools. They are also fitted with sirens, lights, and communications equipment such as two-way radios and mobile computers. With all of its first aid and emergency equipment, fire engines are commonly used for purposes more than firefighting, such as emergency response.

Today, there are different apparatus types for various uses, including wildland fire apparatus for navigating rough wildland terrain and water tenders for transporting a large amount of water to the scene of a fire.

As technological innovations are made each year, fire engines become more advanced. Today, new additions such as wireless communications and wifi hotspots are increasing in demand. With the major changes in fire fighting over the last few hundred years, it’s difficult to predict what the future holds for fire engines. However, one certain thing is that the fire engine will continue to be an integral tool in firefighting efforts.

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