Why NFPA Standards Should Matter to You

A little background first.
If you are well accustomed to the firefighting industry, then the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is nothing new.  For decades, the NFPA has set guidelines for all aspects of safety regarding the firefighting community. The NFPA standards have become widely adopted around the world and play a large role in the Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) industry. When an airport is getting ready to build a new vehicle, they typically ask the manufacturers who are bidding for their business to follow the NFPA standards in the specification presented to them.  No matter what line of fire duty you are in, these standards have impacted you in some way. Oshkosh Airport Products is here to explain why these guidelines should matter to you.

Did you know?
The NFPA has created a set of over 300 standards that are published in different categorical guidebooks. For example, they have anything ranging from how to set up an airport response plan to personal protection equipment recommendations; the range is so diverse. Each standard or guidebook has its own committee which consists of a diversified group of experts on the topic. These standards and guidebooks are on a set revision cycle so they can be constantly updated to provide the latest guidance to the user community.  The committees frequently meet to review the proposed revisions that can be submitted electronically on the NFPA website.

Be the change you want to see in the world. (Or in this case, the fire industry!)
The NFPA tries to be all encompassing, and has an open platform for revisions. Take advantage of this! You are the one that is immersed in the firefighter culture and works within it every day. If you think something should be changed, submit a revision. The committee values peoples’ opinions and has a specific process to ensure that every submittal is revised by the committee and discussed. You have the power to help shape the industry and that’s a powerful tool. It’s important to take ownership of your career and help shape it to be safer, more cutting edge, and as flawless as possible.

Voices will be heard.
Once a revision is submitted, it is put in que to be reviewed by the committees during the revision cycle. The topic-specific committee sits down and has a discussion about the suggestion for change.   Each submittal is reviewed by the committee and the submittal can be taken as-is, revised or rejected.  The review process has several stages and allows for multiple comment periods to fully vet each submittal.  This is to ensure that the user and the committee members are both heard. The NFPA tries to cultivate a two-way conversation. All of the meetings are open to the public, and people are encouraged to attend. The NFPA wants to strengthen their standards, and needs you to participate!
A last note.
The firefighting industry is in a unique position; most fields do not have an opportunity to impact their line of work for the better like this. In a world where the matter of life or death, it is important you raise awareness about things that you see could be improved and share your knowledge with others. You have the power to make impactful changes; do not hesitate to take advantage of it!

Posted: August 10, 2015 with 0 comments.

Filed Under: ARFF, Airport, NFPA, Oshkosh, Products, Standards

The 5 Most Important Aspects of Vehicle Inspection

For firefighters, seeing their ARFF unit is arguably one of the most exciting times in the process of getting a new truck. Here at Oshkosh Airport Products, customer vehicle inspections are one of our favorite responsibilities. Vehicle inspections make every team member feel proud to see customers come in with excitement and anticipation knowing they will see and test their new vehicle. We think that inspection plays a vital role in the overall process, and we wanted to share what we believe to be the five most important aspects of a vehicle inspection with you.

A Quick Overview First
In case you may be unfamiliar with a vehicle inspection and what it all entails, we are going to share a quick overview of what takes place. Typically, inspection takes one to two days on site here at Oshkosh Airport Products in Wisconsin. We start by going through the truck front to back, making sure that all the options on the vehicle align with the specifications. Next, we move onto what might be the most exhilarating part; operational testing. This testing can include:

- brake test

- top speed test

- turning diameter test

- acceleration test

- handling

- gradient ascents and descents

- 30° tilt table test

The myriad of operational tests to choose from allows our customer to make sure their truck is performing at its best. Finally, we share a tour of our plant and do an inspection of loose equipment, if applicable to the truck.

The Countdown

5. Opportunity to Inspect Graphics & Lettering
When your unit is responding to an emergency on the runway or patrolling the tarmac, the exterior of the truck is the first thing people see. Inspecting all of the graphics and lettering to make sure they’re perfect is a crucial component of vehicle inspection. The graphics and lettering display your fire station proudly, and if there is a discrepancy, being able to fix it on-site will relieve headaches upon delivery of the unit.

4. Seeing How the Truck is Built

Going on a factory tour exposes you to different areas of the manufacturing process. This can be essential for understanding the truck from a maintenance perspective, as well as a having a greater appreciation for how your ARFF unit is built. Seeing the different stages of production can also allow customers to see how each component works because it is stripped down to the basic structure. If you have any questions on why something is put together “that” way now is the time to ask the skilled professionals working on the line. 

3. Becoming Familiar With & Meeting Airport Employees
Hospitality is an exciting part of any customer visit and is key to vehicle inspection. Being able to meet the people behind the truck and brand strengthens relationships, opens the door for communication, and helps put a face to a name. You, the customer, should feel comfortable asking any team member a question and know that they will be able to answer it with confidence. Building a relationship with employees also allows an opportunity to decrease post product dissonance. Members from the truck committee will feel better able to communicate any questions or concerns after they take their vehicle back to the firehouse.   

2. Performance Testing
Performance testing is arguably the most exhilarating part of your vehicle’s inspection. It allows the customer to participate in a wide variety of tests outside the walls of the factory. Additionally, it gives new users of our brand the opportunity to become familiar with the vehicle. We shared a few of the most common tests in our overview at the beginning of the post, but in addition to those you have the opportunity to see the full agent suppression system in action. We take the truck out to the test pad and pump water, test the turrets, and make sure the foam system is working correctly. You are also able to become familiar with the Snozzle if your unit is equipped with this versatile option. Testing allows for quality checks such as testing the pressure and flow rate of the equipment.

1. Verification Between Specifications and the Truck
This is the most crucial and important aspect of vehicle inspection! Comparing the built truck to the specifications is the first thing that is done when a customer does a site visit. We start at the front of the truck and work our way backwards ensuring that all the options you chose match up with the specifications that were built. The verification process allows us to catch any mistakes that may have been made. People interpret things differently and mistakes happen. It’s easier to fix them at the factory than on location, making specification compliance a key step in the inspection process. If there is a quality concern, an additional request, or a failure during testing, each item is captured with a system called E-Pick. Our team uses  pictures and text to describe the problem which is then sent out to engineering, sales, and production teams. E-Pick verifies accountability that the work has been done, as well as provides a guarantee that we will take care of any issue quickly and efficiently.

Some Important Notes
Vehicle inspection is essential to both the customer and Oshkosh Airport Products. It ensures that we are putting out the best quality product and you are receiving a truck that exceeds your expectations. Unfortunately, new AIP regulations aren’t writing visits into the specs as commonly as they used to. Our sales team encourages talking to the FAA to get approval for the visit prior to presenting the specifications. The benefits are endless!

Posted: May 29, 2015 with 0 comments.

How Oshkosh Tests its Snow Equipment

When you take a look at Oshkosh snow units; powerful, commanding and reliable may come to mind. Here at Airport Products, we put a lot of time and brainpower into making our machines perform at their best. What the typical user may not know, is that we test our equipment to meet or exceed their impressive specifications. We want to share our equipment testing process with you so you can understand how our specifications are backed up with real-world testing and not just calculations on a computer screen.

Setting the Scene
To begin testing our equipment, we travel to an undisclosed location in the United States that you may guess; has a lot of snow. Because our snow units are built to clear runways, our testing site has just that, thousands of feet of snow-filled runway for us to use.

Measuring for Success         
For the sake of this post we will be testing a blower. Our first task prior to testing the equipment is to map out 500 feet of runway for our unit to clear. Our testing team then goes back and stakes out 100 foot intervals along the predetermined strip of runway. These intervals are there to provide a marker to record the time passed every 100 feet from start to finish. We collect five times in total, allowing us to use a solid average for our specification calculations.

It’s All Conditional
Here comes the tricky part. Perfect conditions need to be met in order for us to run our tests. What constitutes as “perfect” conditions you may ask? Well, let’s break that down for you.

Snow depth matters. Our testing runway needs to have at least 18 inches of snow in order for testing to take place. This depth ensures that our blower is as close to max capacity and tonnage as possible. 
Snow density is key. We need to know how much the snow weighed we removed in our test run. We identify this by weighing a specific volume of snow in each section of the test path. We can calculate how many pounds per cubic foot the snow weighs once we know the test weights and volumes.

Tonnage. This measurement comes from a set of three inter-dependent equations that are pretty basic to calculate. Snow tonnage is how many cubic feet of snow per hour the unit can move and how much the snow weighed per cubic foot. This is a crucial aspect in determining the power behind your machine. Combined with horsepower, snow density is what drives the tonnage for your unit. Here is how to calculate it:
1.      Volume: the path width x depth of snow x distance clearing } (cubic feet)
2.      Density: the weight of a known volume / volume } lbs/cubic ft
3.      Tonnage: (density x  volume) / (speed / distance) } tons/hour

If Conditions are Met …
Once we get the green light for ideal snow conditions, our blower starts at distance zero and cruises down the runway clearing snow. As shared before, our team records the blower’s time every 100 feet of its 500 foot journey.

Final Calculations/Results
We formulate all the different specifications that we share about our units. Oshkosh rounds down to account for inefficiencies. For example, we most likely don’t have a 100% fill factor of snow going through our blower. We give a lower estimate for our units so we can guarantee that our trucks will perform at or above what we claim.

To Conclude
Performance testing of equipment is a huge task! Oshkosh spends a lot of time and dedicated effort into ensuring our trucks perform at or above what we specify. Common misconceptions are normal to have, and we wanted to share some insight on our testing process. Our brand is built on integrity, so we want to provide the best possible machine to keep your runways clear and passengers safe.  

Posted: May 14, 2015 with 0 comments.

Top 3 Reasons the HRET is a Game Changer

The high reach extendable turret or HRET as known in the firefighting industry provides countless benefits to enhance any fire house’s emergency response experience. With having our very own HRET, the Snozzle, Oshkosh Airport Products is well aware of the advantages, and we wanted to share the top three with you. Here’s why we believe the HRET is a game changer on any ARFF unit:

  1. Piercing an Aircraft Fuselage

During an emergency response situation, there are two main types of aircraft that you will come in contact with; a passenger plane or a cargo plane. Each type of plane has advantages gained from the use of an HRET.
Passenger Aircraft: A high reach extendable turret has the ability to pierce a passenger aircraft fuselage and spray suppressing agent to knock down the fire and lower the interior temperature to reduce the risk of a flash over. Flash points are a huge threat, especially for the first entry responder. Using an HRET significantly reduces this risk prior to first entry.
Cargo Aircraft: Having a penetrating tip extension, such as the one that can be added to the Snozzle, allows you to reach the source of the fire in a cargo container, penetrate the fuselage, and continue to infiltrate to the cargo container and discharge agent.
An HRET also provides firefighters with the ability to pierce a wide array of materials encountered on or in an aircraft including new materials such as carbon fiber laminates. Proportional hydraulic control for the hydraulic cylinder on the Snozzle allows firefighters to easily pierce through the aforementioned modern aircraft materials.

  1. Ability to Use Water and Secondary Agent in Places Where You Normally Couldn’t

While trying to put out a fire, sometimes areas on an aircraft are unreachable due to pesky angles. A high reach extendable turret allows you to accurately and easily put water and secondary agent onto fires from angles otherwise impossible or difficult. This can be advantageous from two different positioning types; high attack and low attack.
High Attack: Positioning an HRET in the high attack position allows you to discharge from a safe standoff distance away from the fire. Instead of having to discharge a water stream upwards at the fire, you can raise the HRET in order to discharge water at the same level.
Low Attack: An HRET deployed in the low attack position can easily reach and extinguish common landing gear fires. If your ARFF unit is positioned over a gulley or embankment of any sorts, the high reach extendable turret can stretch below the height of the vehicle in order to spray water or secondary agent up into the engine or another area on the bottom of an aircraft.

  1. Firefighter Safety

Safety is always the number one concern when responding to an emergency situation on the runways. There are multiple factors that can affect the protection of yourself or a comrade. Rather than going into an aircraft or structure, first entry can be accomplished with the HRET. The Snozzle has optional FLIR and color camera attachments, allowing you to look inside and assess the situation. You can also immediately begin discharging water, foam or chemical agents. This can be life-saving if the emergency situation is not what you had originally assessed or something unexpected happens.

Posted: April 2, 2015 with 0 comments.

Filed Under: ARFF, Trucks, Turret, HRET, Striker

Welcome to our Blog


You've found the right place to read articles on anything related to ARFF and snow removal opertations at airports in the United States and around the globe. We manufacture some of the best vehicles on the planet but that's only because we have the knowledge and experience to do so.
What better way to share that knowledge and experience with you than with a blog that will reach people all over the world? You can also give us feedback and join in on the coversation by posting comments to the posts. We want to hear what you have to say. There might even be an opportunity for you to write a post for us down the road.

Stay tuned as we will regularly update the blog with posts.

Posted: April 2, 2015 with 0 comments.