Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New engine for the Cheshire Fire Department

The MRJs Jesse Buchanan reports:

It's hard to miss the Cheshire Fire Department's new fire engine, and that's one of the reasons department officials picked it.

The new fire engine made by Pierce Manufacturing arrived in Cheshire Wednesday after minor repairs.

Tim White


Anonymous said...

"after minor repairs?". What kind of repairs does a half million, single bid truck need?

Anonymous said...

Daughters boyfriend said the motor had to be replaced

Anonymous said...

Motor had to be replaced??? Eh???

Anonymous said...

Was this a new engine or a used one??
Why would it need a new engine?
That doesn't sound minor to me.

Anonymous said...

Higher visibility can reduce accidents particularly on the highway where the trucks are sometimes used to close off lanes, Youngquist said.

Why would anyone in their right mind, use a half million dollar fire truck to close off lanes? What if the truck is hit? We're required to have airbags and we put a truck across the lane to stop cars? Can someone die in such an accident and if the truck was seriously damaged, it would be out of commission and wouldn't the safety of Cheshire citizens would be compromised. This is very disturbing, It's bad enough to use a police car, but a fire truck?

I think the police chief, the fire chief and the TM should sit down and work out a sensible action and report the results to the TC. If they can't do that, then it would be worth hiring some consultants. I know the state police know how to close a lane with something other than using a fire truck.

So, maybe I'm wrong.

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

Dear 9:16

Why do we put a 1/2 million dollar truck across the road? The answer is simple, what is a human life worth? When a firefighter is working on the side of I-691, Rt. 10 or even Maple Ave, there is always the chance that a driver can be visually preocupied looking at the scene rather than watching for workers in the road. By using a truck to block a lane of travel, it is forcing traffic to slow down and give room for emergency personel to perform their jobs. Firefighting gear is designed to protect firefighters from heat, flames, and some chemicals but provides zero protection from a motor vehicle. If a firefighter is hit by a car, they can die! As a resident, a tax payer, and a fire officer in the town of Cheshire, I would not hesitate to park any truck in any way that could save the life of any emergency worker. These trucks, while expensive, can be replaced while the sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, and friends volunteering to help others cannot. We block roads and lanes of travel with these trucks because they will absorb the impact of any car and most trucks with little if any movement. For the record, this is not a defensive move made only by Cheshire, this is a safety initiative that is nation wide. At no time would the safety of Cheshire residents be comprimised if any truck were put out of service for any legnth of time.

"I know the state police know how to close a lane with something other than using a fire truck."
- Roughly 15 years ago, a state police officer was stopped on the side of I-691 in Cheshire with his emergency lights on. Another car rearended the police car at a high speed and trapped the officer inside. The patrol car caught fire and the officer died in his car.
In a different accident on another strech of highway, Cheshire Engine 2 was hit from behind while the firefighters were working on the side of the road. The truck suffered some body damage and everyone survived.

The new engine, Engine 6, has also been built to meet or exceed federal guidelines. The rear of the truck has reflective chevron striping designed to make the rear of the vehicle more visual. The lighting package has been designed to provide visual alerts that the vehicle is present while not taking motorists attention from the road. The cab of this truck is equiped with side curtain airbags that exceed some of the most expensive cars on the road. This truck is built for safety.

I probably should not comment on the repairs, but the truck did have a motor issue when it arrived in Cheshire. The repair has been completed and the truck did not have to get a new motor. In the bid specs, the delivery requirement is that the truck be driven by the manufacturer to Cheshire under its own power. The purpose of that is so the manufacturer, (Pierce Mfg.) can road test it for 1100+/- miles and catch any issues that arise such as this. As far as I can recall, in the last 15 years, no vehicle has had any issues upon delivery.

I hope this clarifies why we do some of the things that we do.

Anonymous said...

RJD--since you're in the know, what did the so called repair consist of?

Anonymous said...

Jr, using a massive engine as a barrier does offer some protection to E workers. On the other hand if it causes yet some other driver to crash into it all you have done is trade E workers for another crash victim.

Maybe there is another solution? If not, it just becomes a trade off where additional people will be injured from time-to-time because E workers are working.

Shouldn't the goal be to eliminate further injury after the first crash, both for E workers and the remaining public?

Anonymous said...

why not use the tc dpw water truck as a barrier

Anonymous said...

I hope this clarifies why we do some of the things that we do.

No, it doesn't clarify anything. Your saying it's O'K to have an innocent driver killed when they hit a fire truck, and the emergency workers are there to maybe save a life?

I hope your not speaking for the fire department. Should a fire truck be used whenever there is an emergency?

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

What the fire service is doing nationwide is creating a buffer zone between vehicular traffic and the incident scene. We are not trying to create more accidents or harm more people. Without a buffer zone, emergency workers have no chance of survival if another vehicle were to crash into the work area. The chances of a secondary crash are pretty slim, but it is not impossible. A mortorist is a car would have a much better chance of survival from crashing into a fire truck than a firefighter would have is the car hit them. The way that we close a lane is also in line with how D.O.T. closes a lane for road maintenance. We use multiple vehicles spaced about 100 feet apart.

"Your saying it's O'K to have an innocent driver killed when they hit a fire truck, and the emergency workers are there to maybe save a life?"

I never said that it was ok for someone to be injured or killed because they hit a fire truck. It's all about survival. As I said, a car vs. fire truck crash is survivable. The motorists insurance will pay for the repairs to the apparatus and the town would only be out the use of a fire truck for a few weeks at the most. In a car vs. firefighter crash, the firefighter would be severely injured if not killed. The motorist insurance would cover medical expenses. Any uncovered expenses would be the towns responsability.

" I hope your not speaking for the fire department. "

Yes and no. I am discussing a nationwide safety proceedure that Cheshire follows. I talked to Chief Casner on Friday about this topic on this blog and he is aware that I am answering these questions. He is a big supporter of blocking with apparatus as it increases firefighter safety.

"Should a fire truck be used whenever there is an emergency?"

Im not exactly sure what you are asking. This question could be read a few different ways.
Whenever the fire dept. is dispatched, fire trucks should respond. Fire engines carry more than just water. They are mobile toolboxes that we outfit to carry more than a typical engine should. We carry tools that allow us to do more work in the event we need to divert other apparatus to other scenes. In an attempt to be safer while responding to calls, the Cheshire Fire Dept. has been responding with traffic to a number of calls where life safety is not an immediate issue. This is another safety topic that is being implimented nationwide.

Anonymous said...



Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

Engine 6 was manufactured with a brand new engine from Detroit Diesel. The problem was with a malfunctioning Jake Brake. On it's trip here it damaged a few internal parts and had to go to Detroit in Middletown and a new Jake had to be located out of state. The work was warranteed and the truck is back in town awaiting outfitting.

The only time Pierce Mfg. uses "used" engines is in rehab work. At that time, it is up to the customer to supply them with a motor or buy a brand new one. No failed part is directly related to Pierce Mfg's vehicle assembly and was an outside venders flaw.

Anonymous said...

Jr, the Jake Brake story sounds as though it might not be getting to the specifics.

It almost sounds too good to be true. Maybe you are an expert on Jacobs Braking Systems and then again maybe you have never looked under the hood of a big diesel powered machine.

At any rate I thought Jacobs used the pistons and cylinders of a diesel engine along with other equipment to eat up truck kinetic energy instead of using brake pads to make heat in order to slow the vehicle. If so I would suspect that a faulty jake brake just might really also be a faulty high compression diesel engine block along with inlet and exhaust valves too.

So, what parts failed on a system so reliable that usually you don't hear of failures on a brand new one? And did the jake failure cause any additional out of the ordinary wear on the main truck braking systems too?

Lt. Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

The Jake Brake on any truck is designed to open the ehaust valve in the head to release combustion energy thus slowing the cam shaft and output to the transmission causing the vehicle to slow down without the use of wheel brakes.

I was under the impression that you wanted to know what broke. I gave you the same explanation that I and the rest of the department recieved from Deputy Chief Youngquist, Assistant Chief Casner, and our director of fleet maintenance. This truck was purchased with a 5 year / 100,000 mile warranty on the motor. If any future issues arrise in the motor, they will be addressed promptly by the Detroit. I've contacted my own independant mechanic and he stated that he has seen Jake Brakes fail and gave the same synopsis to the problem that Detroit stated.

As far as the mechanical braking system, the truck has yet to be outfitted with hose or equipment so there would not be any additional wear on the brake system. Even if the truck was fully outfitted, engine retarders are not to be used in adverse weather conditions and all braking is to be done using mechanical brakes. In fact, old Engine 6, the one replaced by the new engine, never had a engine retarder system on it and most single axle trucks (<35,000lbs) never have any form of assisted stopping.

As far as my experiance with "big diesel powered machines", I've driven box trucks for many of the farmers in town from northern Maine to Virginia, driven tri-axle dump, operate various types of backhoes, Cat 990 wheel loaders, Lull type forklifts, bobcats, drove a 44' boom truck for Lyon & Billard Lumber, designed and speced my own International 4400 boom (construction chassis), own my own oil trucks and I drive and instruct new Engine and Rescue drivers for the Cheshire Fire Dept.

Anonymous said...

Jr - - your explanation of the failure is less than convincing. It still sounds like an engine problem.

It also sounds like just one more big ticket procurement by an arm of town government that didn't really work out too well. It is supposed that this one also was not based on a competitive bid?

As for all your quoting of what officer this and that might have said, so what? We don't have to look to far in CT to find other fire departments where in spite of their managers there have been serious fire truck safety issues uncovered.

It is clear that the department needs a well trained spokesperson and that individual should be providing the details of just what went wrong and how the department is now certain the issues were really fixed.

It makes little sense to have the manufacturer test drive a partially complete fire truck for the owner. Maybe that is how things are done but I can tell you in the world of machinery performance testing that is not exactly how a good, valid test would be designed and executed.

You also made a compelling argument to not include a Jacobs Brake on this truck. IF your argument is valid this is one tax payer again asking just why are we spending the money?

And since we have it why wouldn't we use it if, for instance it was raining? It rains many days each year around here?

If the truck was driven for hundreds of miles with a non-functioning jake brake, even if the truck was not fully loaded I'd guess the mechanical brake pads took on more wear because brake pads wear each and every time they are used.

Jr, thank you for your service to the town fire department. I'm am certain you and the other members always have and always will do your very best for everyone in town and everyone passing through. Next time though, leave the press release info to the qualified PR professionals.

Anonymous said...

"I never said that it was ok for someone to be injured or killed because they hit a fire truck."

I don't think it is a nationwide standard procedure to close a lane like this. I'm sure there are other methods used that consider the life and health of all concerned.

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

Concerning the bid process for this truck, D/C Youngquist spent a great deal of time rewriting this bid to make it as generic as possible. Even with this attempt to make it more attactive to more bidders, we still only recieved 1 bid. At Mr. Milone's request, several manufacturers were contacted as to why they did not bid. Common answers ranged from not having repair facilities within a reasonable distance to not being interested. We could not force anyone to bid on this truck that did not want to.

The fleet of fire trucks in the town of Cheshire are maintained to the highest standard. Any member of our department can take a truck out of service if they feel it is not safe to be on the road. The State of Connecticut performs a yearly inspection on our fleet at our request. This puts another set of trained eyes on every truck to avoid problems being overlooked. Thanks to this proceedure, potential problems have been identified and corrected.

The reason a vehicle operator would turn off a Jake Brake in wet or icy conditions is when the Jake is activated, it can cause the drive wheels to lock-up or slide resulting in loss of control. In adverse conditions, our drivers are instructed to respond as conditions allow. We put these devises on our trucks because they save wear and tear on the braking system, rear axle, and transmission. Jake Brakes are known by government and private agencies as a cost reduction and safety device.

"It makes little sense to have the manufacturer test drive a partially complete fire truck for the owner. "

We order our trucks as complete units and bid requirements state that the truck will be a single source manufacturer. This requires that the frame, cab, and body are all built by the same company. Almost every custom vehicle is tested by the manufacturer in some way. We require that beyond their factory test, the vehicle be delivered from the factory under it's own power. That clause allows problems like a Jake Brake failure to surface under the supervision of a factory representitive.

Responding to your PR comment, Chief Casner is aware that I am discussing this matter in this forum. Chief Casner handles press releases and was seemed unaware that the arrival of the Engine was released. I have identified myself by name and rank and have tried to leave personal feelings out of the topic.

Anonymous said...

Jr- Sounds to me like the purchase of the fire truck was just one more town procurement which didn't work out well. Sounds like you are kind of trying to blame others for the lack of competitive bids. In fact you are blaming the potential bidders. Blaming others for shortcomings in the process of spending town money isn't what this tax payer wants to hear.

Your story about Jake Brakes being prone to performance problems in typical weather conditions is seen in a similar light. Why spend the money in the first place if it really isn't always required and if you have a procedure requiring it NOT to be used in typical local weather conditions.

As for the story of how having the manufacturer test drive the vehicle to the fire station so that they can have equipment failures surface under their supervision I just have to wonder. Why didn't their manufacturing QC and their factory testing catch this in the first place? After all, you have to admit the braking system is probably the number 1 most important system on any vehicle used for transportation. Clearly in this case it was totally unreliable after manufacture and release for use on any public highway. I'd even bet that we have to pay them extra to deliver the truck in this fashion too. And I am hard pressed to believe that the factory testing was adequate if it missed the problem before the equipment was shipped.

Cheshire, a good place to do business in.

OBTW, you and the chief should maybe add to the department training roster a couple of coaching sessions associated with Public Relations in the 21st century.

Don't misunderstand. It is clear that our fire department does wonderful work for all of us. It is amazing what a bunch of volunteers can accomplish.

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

The purchase of Engine 6 went as well as any other apparatus purchase during my time in the fire dept. Like I said, you cannot force someone to submit a bid. The town bidding process requires a set date that the bid package be relaeased to the public and a date and time that the recieved bids will be opened. We cannot control what manufacturers do during that time. If one company returns a qualified bid, we are obligated to use it.

Im kind of lost as to what else to say about Jake Brakes. They are installed on every large truck on the road today as a safety and cost savings device. Jake Brakes reduce our stopping distance, reduce wear and tear to the mechanical brakes, air compressor, air valves, and suspension parts. The State of Connecticut and Jacobs Electronics recemend shutting engine retarders off in wet, icy, and snowy conditions.

While quality control measures should catch any flaws in the truck, nothing is foolproof. Our requirement of the vehicle being delivered from the factory under it's own power is another level of factory inspection. Your personal automobile does not get as much attention prior to delivery as or engines.

A Jake Brake is a supplimental braking system. It cannot be used as the sole means of stopping a vehicle. Having this part fail did not create a safety hazard enroute to delivery. Pierce could not have known that this part would fail since they did not manufacture it.

I will forward your training suggestion to the training division for their consideration. The information I have given is not a press release as it is an informal conversation.

Thank you for recognizing the service that we provide to the town of Cheshire. We are always open to suggestions from the public.

Anonymous said...

Rob, it looks like you are discussing this with Dave Schrumm and you know why he will not accept what happened to E-6. Another chance for him to help someone out.

Anonymous said...

"...Rob, it looks like you are discussing this with Dave Schrumm and you know why he will not accept what happened to E-6...."

I am not Dave but I have to admit Dave has had a few good ideas.

Anonymous said...

Dave Schrumm -Contract Steerer

Anonymous said...

Jr- - If competitive bids are mandated then procurements should be competitive. I for one find it hard to believe that it is not possible to obtain competitive bids for something like an expensive fire truck. On the other hand I can believe a couple of things about this.

First, if this is the way the industry operates then it is past time for a group of state attorneys general to investigate price fixing and bid rigging in association with this. Let us not forget that recently Cheshire became a party to hiring a trash hauler who is now serving time for under handed bidding practices. If it doesn’t smell right it could be criminal.

Second and more likely, at least this one CT town is in dire need of a top down, bottom up overhaul of it procurement processes and everything associated with them. Assuming your viewpoint that “…Like I said, you cannot force someone to submit a bid….” is in unison with others having an association with the fire department and town government maybe you should take a long look in the mirror. The person staring back will be
one of those responsible for accepting non-competitive procurements of large capital items for the town.

It doesn’t make sense that a company in the business of making fire trucks would pass up legitimate opportunities to bid on selling fire trucks. It’s just like imagining that a local oil company would answer its phone and tell prospective customers they cannot get a price quote on an oil delivery because the oil company does not believe in releasing such information.

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

When Cheshire residents voted to purchase a new truck in 2007, a former member of the council complained that the bid specs were written so that only 1 company could bid on the truck. The fire dept spent 6 months pouring over the specs to make them as generic as possible. The town council then hired an independant consultant to review and sign off that the package was open and would draw more bids. When the bids came back, only 1 bids was recieved. What more could we do? It is possible that some of the bidders refused due to requirements and reporting that we require. We ask that a certified repair facility be within a certain distance, the vehicle be single source (cab, chassis, and body be 1 manufacturer) worthyness of the company (credit check, history, etc.). Some companies probably could not satisfy all of these needs or refused to release the info. Like I said, we cannot force someone to place bids. It is up to the company to decide what is best for them. I cannot believe that there is any evidence of bid rigging in the truck industry. Cheshire has very high standards and some companies might decide not to do business with us.

F.Y.I. - there are oil companies that will not release their price unless you give them a number that they can call you back. Dont ask me why, thats what I have heard from customers.

Anonymous said...

The Councilman that raised the issue several years ago was Dave Shrumm. He disrupted the "insider deals" that were going on and made the FD (excuse me, the officers of the FD) go through their paces to make sure the process was fair. He took a lot of heat for this (from the D's who seem to like inside deals) but he was right.
He made the Towmn Manager call other companies to find out why they didn't bid. The TM got a lesson....the companies just laughed and said "Why bother? Cheshire always gives their business to the same vendor"
Some things never change. The game is still being played since the specs are still being written so as to favor one party over the others and the other potential bidders won't bother to put in a bid.
Cheshire is getting screwed.....too bad Shrumm retired.

Anonymous said...

Rob just told you that the bid was rewritten to make it possible for others to bid. Schrum was trying to steer the bid to his brother. That's all schrum cared about.

Anonymous said...

"When the bids came back, only 1 bids was recieved. What more could we do?"

When you put it out to bid, with all the detail and specifications you required, did you think there would be more than 1 company that could bid?

It sounds like it was already fixed. Sort of like saying:
"we ant to replace a boiler in our school, it has to be made by a specific manufacturer, and the company has to be within 2 miles of the school"---how many bids will you get??

Pockets sound like they are being lined.

Anonymous said...

Shrumm's brother is on the FD with me and he makes it his policy to NOT bid on Cheshire trucks.
First because it would be a conflict and
second the bid always goes to Pierce! DUH!
By the way, wasn't the Pierce rep for many years a FD officer?

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

The bid requirements say "we want this motor with this transmission, with this pump and this size water tank. The truck must be single source, NFPA and DOT compliant, seat 6 personel, come with a warranty and have a repair facility near by. Also tell us how your company is doing financially and historicly." Sounds pretty generic to me. Different companies have facilities in Rocky Hill (Pierce) Watertown (Spartan), E. Hartford (Freightliner/American LaFrance) Wallingford (E-One).

Pierce wins the bids when other companies either - 1: do not bid, or 2: cannot meet the requirements of the bid

Anonymous said...

The question is, are you making the reqirements so strict that only 1 company can bid? If it was generic, then why wouldn't other companies want to bid.

Perhaps someone needs to get to the bottom of why only 1 company keeps bidding.

How many trucks have we bought in the past and how many from Pierce? Were therre ever any other bidders?

Do any of these companies have repair facilities nearby? Is that the holdup?

I am sure that you, Lt. DeVylder, can tell us how many companies would legitimately be able to bid on a truck based on your requirement. If not,then you and the other officers or whoever make these decisions, are not doing their due dilligence.

Why can't you come up with altrnative but similar transmissions,

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

As I stated before, the town paid a consultant to review the bid specs to ensure that multiple manufacturers can bid. These specs and requirements are not some random thoughts that just came to us. Every requirement has it's purpose. Example: back in the 80's, old Engine 1 was at a Maxim rehab facility on Long Island. While it was there, the company went bankrupt. We literally got a call to come get our unfinished truck out of there in the middle of the night or risk it being impounded. That is why we now want to know the companies financial stregnth.

The investigation into why only 1 company bid has been done. Milone asked D/C Youngquist to call the companies that requested bid packages and ask why they did not bid. The information had been forwarded to Milone prior to the new engines order being placed with Pierce. At this time, I cannot recall what those reasons were.

As of right now, through bidding, everything has been built by Pierce with the exception of Truck 1. T-1 is a Maxim Snorkel. Prior to Engine 6, most trucks recieved multiple bids. From a firefighters stand point, it makes sense to have trucks that are simular and from the same manufacturer. Outfitting the trucks is quicker because the construction is the same. Drivers have an easier time familiarizing themeselves with the subtle differences between them.

"Why can't you come up with altrnative but similar transmissions,"

Transmissions are vital parts of trucks. Without them, trucks do not move and water does not flow. If a manufacturer feels that there is a better tranny on the market that they want to use, they can make the suggestion in the bid. To this date, that has not happened.

Cheshire residents should be proud of the fleet of trucks that our fire dept has. Pierce is viewed by firefighters nation wide as one of the best manufacturers today. Old engine 6 served the town for 28 years without needing an overhaul. Old engine 2, the last truck replaced, served for over 30 years, but was rehabed in the 80's.

"Different companies have facilities in Rocky Hill (Pierce) Watertown (Spartan), E. Hartford (Freightliner/American LaFrance) Wallingford (E-One)". (copied from 5/21 post)

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

Almost forgot, maintenance costs are also why we specify the motor, tranny, and pump. It costs less to have 1 type of valve or repair kit on hand (for pumps) and the maintenance crew only needs to buy 1 size oil filter. It is one of the same arguements made when Chief Cruess wanted to get away from the Crown Victoria police car. There is a cost savings by standardizing equipment.

Anonymous said...

Rob - You know Dave will not let you have the last word. He is the only guy in town that hates the FD.

Anonymous said...

I'm a safety officer in a local fire service, and have a couple of comments about fire appartaus as blockers- The first 99% of the motoring public will do what you want them to do if you give them enough "advanced warning" of an emergency scene ahead- the other 1%are the ones we must prepare for, ETOH, on drugs, sleepy, not paying attention, or the those instances created by bad weather/road conditions. No one wants to see anyone get hurt, would anyone like to stand out in moving traffic trying to assist others without someone watching their back? I think not. Nationally, police and other emergency workers being struck on a "daily basis"

Providing a "safety zone" for our emergency workers to work in is not easy, we attempt to provide adequate "advanced warning" to on coming traffic, this is something that must be addressed, especially when operating near curves, hills and other diminished lines of sight.

Just abruptly placing apparatus across a roadway without considering the consequences to on coming traffic will only lead to trouble. We work quite well with the PD they send an extra vehicle to help with that "advanced warning" point, we alos equipped an older brush truck with an arrow board and traffic cones.