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Hay just wanted to get your opinion on fire departments using the quint concepts. Our department has 8 stations and out of the 8 stations 6 have 75 ft quints the other two have 100 ft platforms.

We have had some fires where we are more worried about getting the aerials in the air than getting inside to get to the fire.

Is this a problem in the fire service or just at our department?
quint

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Hey Tracy, I'm a member of the St Louis MO FD, and we went to the "total quint concept" back in 1987, though I've only been with the department since 1991. Quints are great at multiple alarm fires where you need lots of aerials that can put large volumes of water on a fire. They also are good because every engine company has all of the basic truck company tools as well as extra ground ladders and, of course, the aerial ladder. However, our two biggest problems have been the regular mechanical breakdowns due to the excess weight and all of the electronic "gadgets" on the trucks which often malfunction because of their heavy workload for fires and EMS response. By far our biggest weakness though, has been the loss of truck work as a specialty. Many companies want to put water on the fire and often view truck work as the "necessary evil" and don't give it near as much attention as they should. Our new Chief wants to reduce the number of quints and go back to some basic engine companies, especially for paramedic engines which he wants to begin in the future. He has seen both the strengths and weaknesses of the quints and wants to address the problems. Hope this helps!
Thanks for the input. I agree that quints are great at multiple alarm fires where you need lots of aerials that can put large volumes of water on a fire. But on our so called bread and butter fires we have to get the arerial in the air first thing.

I hope the new chief is working out. Glad to hear that you are going back to some engine companies for ME's.
I think that any discussion about quints has to begin with a discussion about two (2) closely related subjects: SOG's and personnel. Any department that entertains the thought of adopting the "quint concept' must have a firm understanding of both in order to avoid some of the potential role confusion that can result.

Initially, a well defined and understood set of SOG's must be developed in order to assure that everyone is on the same page, and that everybody has a clear understanding of their role on the fireground with respect to the order of arrival and what fireground objectives must be achieved first. You alluded to some of this potential for confusion in your post where you indicated some in your department seem to be more concerned with placing the aerial into operation than in executing what are more commonly thought of as engine company operations.

Once the expectations are clearly delineated, most of the confusion can be cleared up before incidents transpire. The remaining questions can be addressed through post incident critique.

The second issue I referred to is personnel. The "CAP" (Combined Aerial Pumper) or "quint concept" is manpower intensive and this issue must be addressed. Think of it this way: you're potentially asking one company to perform more functions on the fireground, and to achieve this end safely and efficiently the apparatus must be staffed correctly lest the quint become merely a very expensive means of transportation to the fire scene.

The truck company I am assigned to is a 75' quint. When this apparatus was purchased by a former chief, our IAFF local worked to develop a side letter of agreement to our collective bargaining contract which dictates the quint staffing.

Finally, some thoughts about 75' quints. I think there are two areas in which the vehicles are lacking. One, our model has very shallow compartments, and not in great enough number to carry all of the truck company tools and RIT gear our department requires. This should be a consideration whenever you "spec" out new apparatus. Secondly, we run our quint as a truck company, and the stick length (remember 75' does not always assure 75' of reach) has forced us to become very creative with how we spot the aerial to make the roof. The apparatus is very unforgiving with setbacks as well, and effective use of the apparatus requires above average skills for the driver/operator and good coordination and communication between the officer and the driver/operator.

Be Safe,

Chris
Thanks Chris, How many firefighters do you staff on the quints?
Tracy:

This answer is a bit tricky, but here goes: Ladder 2 (our quint) is staffed 1-5. That is, an officer and five (5) firefighters. By agreement it cannot be staffed by less than 1-3. The 1-5 staffing level is seldom actually achieved due to the detailing of firefighters citywide to account for personnel outtages.

-Chris
Richmond Va also is unsing the total Quint concept. Alot of guys I talk to say the only reason it works is becuase everyone has one. If you have an FD with engines, Trucks, and Quints then it doesnt work well. You should contact them as well for info.
Chris,
I agree with you about SOG's and making sure everyone is on the "same page" regarding who's doing which duties; apparatus positioning, etc. Also, the limitations you mentioned about 75' Aerial quints functioning as Trucks has been our experience as well, which is why we've had to keep 4 actual "Hook and Ladder" quints with longer Aerials. One of the problems we've had with the actual fire scene operations has been companies arriving in a different order than dispatched. Ideally, our SOP's state that the 1st and 3rd qunits dispatched operate as engine companies, and the 2nd dispatched (order of dispatch) operate as a truck. The Hook and Ladders normally operate as Truck companies, but have been forced to operate as engines in rare circumstances. Also, with only 4 actual truck companies, they rarely arrive until the first 3 quints are already on scene, and this presents some challenges regarding placement for yuse of the Aerial ladder, since the first "truck company quint" takes the front of the building. The problem is exacerbated with the GPS dispatching system, since now companies are dispatched based on where their located at the moment, rather than their normal Still district. This causes companies who rarely work together to sometimes end up on the same incident where certain companies have little, if any, familiarization with the buildings and layout of that still area. This creates confusion and requires companies to perform different functions than they were planning enroute based on order of dispatch. Our greatest weakness though, remains the lack of truck company specialization. Many quint companies will operate as a truck on the scene because they are required to, but far too few of those companies actually seek to become very proficient in truck work; especially in the areas of forcible entry and roof ventilation. Our quints are staffed with one officer and 3 firefighters, so each company is limited to only one function. There are other "pluses' to having quints, such as you never arrive at a fire without water; and everyone carries basic forcible entry tools and a hurst tool plus the extra ground ladders; but much more training is required for companies to become more proficient in their duties, especially truck work. And unfortunately, this doesn't happen near as often as it should.
Robert,
I sat in a seminar on quints put on by a company officer from Richmond VA FD at FDIC in 2002; their experience was almost identical to ours, both in the strengths and weakness of the "total quint concept". Many of the weakness can be overcome by a more aggressive training program and accountability of the company officer's themselves; but for some reason it just seems very difficult to get the firefighters and officers to buy into the concept as a whole. However, you are correct that the concept works much better when every company has the same apparatus. Our first generation of quints consisted of 15 pumpers with a 50' telesquirt; and 15 pumpers with a 75' ladder; and the 4 regular hook and ladder qunits with 110' aerials. However, the 75' quints were notorious for breaking down, and our reserves were basic Howe pumpers and old Seagrave 100 rearmount Aerial ladders. Depending on the number of reserves operating in a district and the arrival order of companies, sometimes it took very creative manuevering by companies to accomplish the basic fireground functions efficiently. There was a lot of confusion among companies during the first generation of quints. It would have been comical if it wasn't so serious. We've learned a lot over the years, and the quint system has it's value, but it doesn't always live up to it's promises in real life.
We have 2 quints on my department and have made a push in recent months to go back to an engine truck concept.
This quint concept in understandable in a smaller department where it is convient to have an arial device and a pump all on the same rig. The big question is man power. If your argument is that it can act as an engine and a truck you need at least a 6 man company which is unheard of in my area. We only run 3 men on our quint. This in minmal for in engine let alone a truck!
One of our quints is a 75' stick. It is grossly overloaded with too much stuff and being an ALS rig takes so much wear and tear. It also has a huge problem even making the roof on some of our newer construction. You have to back it in the driveway for proper placement.
The other is a 100' tower. It also is overloaded and is housed at our busiest ambulance house which means it too takes a lot of wear and tear. It also is usless to lead 5' supply line off the bed due to the configuration. It always gets the couplings caught.
I hope we change back to the engine truck concept soon!!
Based on your comments and the comments in some of the posts, I offer the following:
1) You cannot be all things to all people all the time. If you are a quint you must pick what you are going to be at each call-an engine or a truck. SOPs should state such as 1st unit to arrive is the engine, 2nd quint is the truck, 3rd quint is...
2) If you are running with three or four and you are the first unit at a pin job, I don't care if you are an engine, a truck or a heavy squad just like a fire some one has to pump a line, staff a line, stablize the auto, work the jaws or recip saw. You should call for more help and whether it comes in an engine, a truck or another squad, it's help who should be bringing some appropriate tools.
3) I consider my self fairly ISO compentent and running a quint does not get you two sets of points. ISO asks the department how the vehicle operates and then assigns full credit for the primary function and half crdit for the secondary function. This could be full engine/half truck or full truck/half engine. ALSO, if your quint lacks ALL of the engine equipment and ALL of the truck equipment (ISO requires TWO 35-ft ladders plus the 24/28 and roof ladders) your credits will be reduced. Whether you are a quint or a ladder I see very few with all the ISO stuff on board.
4) Some say running a big rig on EMS has excessive wear and tear. I agree with that. However, I can buy a new 100 ft ladder with pump and tank every for less than it costs me to staff a single company for a year. I'm not happy with that but its the reality.
FYI-I do not run a quint but both of my engines are also service trucks (all that hand tools of a ladder company plus two sets of ladders). Since we cover mostly single family homes, strip malls and have only four apartment buildings over three stories it works for us. We also have a 100 ft laddet tower than runs too. With auto aid we get 15 firefighters on the first alarm and another 12 on declaration of as working fire for a total of four engine, two trucks, EMS and chiefs.

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