Evaluation & Review:
Camden Fire Department
Technical Services Division
Maine Fire Training & Education
Southern Maine Community College
Maine Fire Training & Education (MFT&E) is a department of Southern Maine
Community College. While designated by statute as the state’s firefighter training and
certification agency, MFT&E does not have enforcement or regulatory powers. The
recommendations and suggestions provided in this study are based upon recognized
standards, trade practice, anecdotal evidence, and opinion. The recommendations are
offered with the intent of providing the town’s elected leaders and administration with a
better understanding of the environment in which the modern fire service operates and to
aid them in maintaining their level of confidence with the management and direction of the
Camden Fire Department. The findings of this study are given in, and must be accepted
within, the context in which the department operates today, not how it used to operate, nor
how someone might wish that it operated.
This is not an in-depth study into the internal workings of the fire department; it is merely
a review of the department’s five-year master plan or what we come to refer to here as a
short-term “operational plan.” Also provided is a brief analysis of the proposed apparatus
replacement schedule. It is in regard to the replacement schedule that we stress the point of
looking at the matter in terms of the current context. In other words: What is happening
today in Camden and what do we think will be happening in the next couple of years?
To those whose desire is to see limited growth or even a reduction in the fire department
budget this study will not lend aid, for that was not the purpose of the study. Fire service
budgets generally can only be reduced if services are cut or otherwise consolidated. Any
effort to regionalize services without consolidation will not show large reward and
consolidation inevitably means service delivery must be reduced or restructured
somewhere. Regionalization can improve service delivery and even slow down the growth
of budgets, but real savings only come through consolidation.
This study shows that the department has developed a respectable short-term operational
plan and should be encouraged to continue with its development. In addition, the town
should work with the department to create a master (strategic) plan having at least a five-
year focus. We cannot stress enough the importance and value of long-range strategic
planning for the fire department. Any effort at master planning should include the
department, elected officials, town administration, and community members.
Effective public fire protection has a central focus on risk management. Effective risk
management translates into cost-effective options that improve or enhance the safety of citizens
and firefighters. A comprehensive risk management program includes: problem identification,
analysis, prioritization, and mitigation. Risk mitigation involves deliberate action to control a
specific risk through avoidance, transfer, or control. There are two approaches to mitigating the
risk of fire in the community–traditional approach and the pro-active approach. The traditional
way has been reliance on fire departments and fire insurance. The other way is through applied
education, engineering, and enforcement (education in personal responsibility for fire safety;
engineering better and safer buildings; and enforcement of fire, building, and life safety codes).
Enacting and enforcing fire codes is an example of risk avoidance. Purchasing fire insurance and
dialing 911 for fire emergencies is an example of risk transfer. Installing an automatic fire
sprinkler system or a fire alarm system and public fire safety education training are examples of
risk control. In terms of saving tax dollars, the proactive approach to public fire protection
provides cost-effective options to the more costly traditional approach. The proactive approach,
however, requires strong will and determination, as well as courage in the face of opposition.
And make no mistake; anyone attempting the proactive approach will face opposition from those
who want to preserve the traditional approach. Given that reality most American communities
choose to shift the risk and consequences of fire to the insurance industry and the fire service.
It is possible to measure what a fire department does; set benchmarks for performance; and to
quantify the differences between adequate, inadequate, effective, and ineffective levels of
service. As the cost of the traditional approach to fire protection escalates, especially in terms of
stations and equipment, communities seek evaluations of local fire services to ensure tax dollars
are spent wisely. An evaluation of services may be necessary to answer technical questions such
as how many firefighters do we need, how many fire trucks do we need, do we need this new fire
station, and what is an acceptable response time? Who is responsible for providing answers to
technical questions? Who is in the best position to provide unbiased answers? Should the
community itself determine what is needed locally or should national standards dictate the
response? Is noncompliance with a national standard an opening for potential liability?
Decision-making related to fire service delivery will inevitably center on cost of the service,
technical correctness of decisions, and responsibility for determining adequate resource levels.
There is a potential problem when the responsibility for all three decisions lies with one person
or group. Checks and balances need to be in place to ensure fairness and accuracy. Elected
officials should rely upon the town’s department managers to make technical decisions. The
town’s department managers should look to the elected officials for policy or guidance regarding
acceptable resource levels. The citizens, as voters and taxpayers, are responsible for approving
funds to purchase the desired service and associated resources. Neutral evaluation by a third-
party provides another level scrutiny and thus a check and balance on the overall system.
The purpose of this study is to validate the fire department’s proposed master plan and
apparatus replacement schedule. This evaluation concentrates solely upon the issues of
administrative responsibility to plan and the technical correctness of the elements of the
plan. The intent is to provide information for the members of the Camden Select Board so
that they may have a “level of confidence” in the management and direction of the fire
The Camden Fire Department Five-Year Master Plan was prepared by the fire chief per request
of the previous town manager. The plan, in draft form for several years, has been revised as
needed, but never formally approved by the Camden Select Board. In March 2004 the fire chief
discussed the fire department’s plan with members of the Select Board. The discussion included:
town approval for acquisition of a new fire truck, funding needs for the new truck, future
purchases of fire trucks, costs of purchasing trucks, the need for new or replacement trucks,
opportunities to save money be cooperating regionally, concerns with maintaining or improving
the ISO (Insurance Services Office) grade, and the possible benefits of conducting a study of the
In April 2004, the Town of Camden engaged Maine Fire Training & Education (MFT&E), a
department of Southern Maine Community College (SMCC), to conduct a review of the fire
department’s five-year master plan and the proposed apparatus (fire truck) replacement schedule.
Maine Fire Training & Education is the agency authorized by the state legislature to provide
firefighting training programs and firefighter certification. In addition, MFT&E provides other
related training and technical services. Conducting fire department evaluations and studies is one
of those technical services.
MFT&E obtained relevant planning documents from the fire department and subsequently
interviewed fire chief Steve Gibbons; also contacted for background or supporting information:
selectman John French, town manager Roberta Smith, and truck committee member Jeff
Connon. From the interviews it became apparent that the Select Board desired a study of the
department’s master plan and apparatus (fire truck) replacement schedule in order to ensure a
“level of confidence” in the adequacy of the master plan and the relevance of the proposed
apparatus replacement schedule.
Planning is fundamental to effective leadership and management for both private and public
sector organizations. As a basic managerial function, planning will inevitably consume a
significant amount of a manager’s time, but the investment is worthwhile because it provides a
roadmap for the future. By having a guide to follow leaders are able to keep their organization
focused and on track. A plan also provides a tool for measuring managerial performance. The
bottom line is that a plan provides a measure of accountability for evaluating the performance of
both the manager and the organization. Operating in an environment of limited or diminishing
resources provides a challenge for managers in municipal government. To ensure that limited
town resources are used wisely and effectively by the fire department requires several levels of
planning. (Source: Managing Fire Services, 2nd Edition)
There are three recognized levels of planning for municipal fire protection agencies: long-
range planning, operational planning, and tactical planning.
Long-range planning is strategic in nature and is commonly referred to as master
planning in the fire service. Such planning is concerned with evaluating and changing the
local fire protection delivery system to meet existing and future needs. It is policy-
oriented, wide in scope, and takes the long-term view.
Operational planning is administrative in nature and typically deals with everyday
matters of the organization. For the fire department this includes: risk management plans,
response plans, mutual aid plans, automatic aid plans, emergency disaster plans, and
capital improvement plans.
Tactical planning is task-oriented focusing on specific response objectives generally
identified in an “incident action plan” or “SOG” (Standard Operating Guideline).
Commonly done for specific “target hazards” in the community based upon information
collected during “pre-fire building surveys” or other risk identification exercises (e.g.,
tank trucks traveling through town).
Applying these definitions, we determined that the Camden Fire Department Five-Year Master
Plan is closer in concept and content to an operational plan. As defined, a true master plan
focuses on “…evaluating and changing the fire protection system to meet the needs of a
changing environment” and thus it is our opinion that the fire department’s master plan does not
meet this definition. However, upon careful examination we found that the department’s
proposed plan meets and even exceeds the definition of an operational plan. (Source: Managing Fire
Services, 2nd Edition)
RECOMMENDATION: The fire department’s proposed plan is administrative in nature
and presents itself as an operational guide for managing the everyday concerns of the
organization over a period of time, as well as providing a means of measuring progress for
the purpose of evaluation. It does not meet the strict definition of a master plan because it
lacks the basic focus of a master plan, that is, it is not strategic in nature. MFT&E
recommends that the title of the document be changed to Camden Fire Department
RECOMMENDATION: MFT&E reviewed the proposed fire department plan in the
context of an operational plan rather than a master plan. In that regard, as an operational
plan, the proposed document covers essential elements and should be further developed by
adding supporting material for depth, revised as necessary, and updated on a regular basis
(18-months). In addition, we strongly recommend that a section addressing “risk
management” be added as a separate element of the operational plan.
RECOMMENDATION: To ensure that the master plan is not confused with the
operational plan and in turn that standard operating procedures are not confused with the
operational plan MFT&E recommends creating a hierarchy of fire department planning
documents as follows:
Governing Documents – State statutes, town ordinances, and town policies related to
creation, organization, and management of municipal fire services
Strategic Documents – CFD mission statement and master plan
Operational Documents – CFD operational plan (including references to federal
regulations, state regulations, NFPA standards, ISO guidelines, departmental standard
operating procedures, pre-plans)
REVIEW OF SELECTED ELEMENTS OF THE OPERATIONAL PLAN
Consider reducing the number of members as it may be an unrealistic goal. Carrying sixty names
on paper looks good, but how many of these individuals are active? Carrying empty slots means
that you must budget for turn-out gear, payroll, insurance, training, etc. for unfilled positions. Is
the cost of advertising for call firefighters worth the investment? In other words, unless you can
advertise for free, what is the return on investment? It is our opinion, based upon experience and
anecdotal evidence, that the most effective recruitment tool for volunteers is referrals from
department members and individuals active in community affairs. Another highly effective and
popular approach is by starting a junior firefighter program hosted through an area technical
school. Camden should consider working through the mutual aid association and the Mid-Coast
School of Technology (Region 8 Vocational Center) in Rockland or by hosting an Explorer Post.
State law permits 17-year olds to receive limited, low-risk firefighter training provided it is
obtained through a standardized program. Such training may be provided in-house. Maine Fire
Training sets a higher standard for junior firefighter training programs by limiting involvement
(personnel and resources) to organized vocational programs or Explorer Posts. A student
program should include putting college students on “inactive status” while they are away at
school and “reactivating” them when they come home for the summer.
Determining what motivates individuals to first join and then remain active is difficult if not
impossible as there is likely to be a different reason for every individual. Certainly training is a
lure to some individuals, especially those who desire to move on to full-time positions with
career departments. You should be careful about making your department a training and
recruiting machine for career departments, unless you have an unlimited number of prospects
and funds to train and equip them. You should have a strategy for those individuals whose
interest is simply to be member of the department or to serve the community; their interest in
training may be minimal and you should be able to ensure they meet minimum state labor
standards. Mentoring for new members is highly recommended. A survey of members, both
active and inactive, as well as those who have recently left the department might be useful to
determine what members like and dislike about the department and what might be done to
increase individual levels of participation. While the State Fire Protection Services Commission
studies the possibility of a volunteer firefighter state retirement plan, the town should consider
taking steps to permit participation in the 457-plan available to other town employees. Individual
participation in the plan could be voluntary and include a matching contribution from the town.
All towns that depend upon volunteer and paid-on-call fire forces need to recognize and not take
for granted the services provided. Volunteering to be an on-call firefighter for the town is not
easy–it requires dedication and commitment. The cost of any and all efforts to maintain a
predominantly volunteer department must be weighed against the direct costs of maintaining a
fully paid department. Camden or any similar community in terms of size and resources cannot
maintain a fulltime career fire department and still adequately staff apparatus for emergency
responses. Maintaining a small staff of fulltime career members is acceptable to supplement the
on-call force and to perform essential duties (e.g., maintain equipment, maintain facility, perform
fire safety inspections, code enforcement, conduct training, provide supervision, etc.)
While the state’s labor standard regulations only require that training for firefighters "be
commensurate with duties” and at a minimum need only meet Bureau of Labor Standards (i.e.,
selected objectives from NFPA 1001 – 1987 ed.) training to Firefighter-I goes beyond the
minimums. Camden has embarked on an effort to train as many members as possible to
Firefighter-I and this is commendable. Under state law the fire chief is required to train to
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards and as the authority having jurisdiction
(AHJ) may determine the level and extent of training, provided it meets the minimums and
follows NFPA standards. State law does not identify or specify the NFPA standards for training;
however common practice (and the Bureau of Labor Standards rule) is to follow NFPA 1001. It
is anticipated that in the near future the State Occupational Safety Board will mandate firefighter
training to meet specific NFPA criteria. The Insurance Services Office (ISO) does not mandate
specific training; however, it does recommend minimum hours of training and specific types of
training, such as drilling with mutual aid companies. It is essential that firefighter skill levels and
proficiencies be developed in an organized basic program upon hiring and followed by consistent
training and drill on a monthly schedule per ISO recommendations (min. 2 hrs. per month, with
more hours preferable). Given time constraints and availability we recommend concentrating in-
house efforts on Firefighter-I level skills with opportunities for advanced training provided off-
site at regional schools or state academy.
Maine’s Fire Officer-I program leads to state certification and is a commendable goal, but should
not be made mandatory in the department. Participation would likely present a significant
challenge for most officers in terms of finding available time to complete the 8-day academy
program. Attending a fire officer academy program should be voluntary. The department’s
training initiatives should focus primarily on basic firefighter, driver operator, and pump operator
programs. For officers, an in-house training program should be made available and include
courses in: incident command, tactics & strategy, incident safety, incident risk management, haz-
mat incident operations, pre-fire planning, aerial ladder operations, and familiarization with
departmental standard operating procedures.
Any members seeking a significant learning challenge or a fire service career should consider
enrolling in the community college fire science degree program; if at least 12 individuals in the
Knox and Waldo county area sign-up for a fire science course, the program could be taught
locally. (This type of arrangement has permitted many members of the Augusta Fire Department
to earn a degree.) The fire chief should contact Maine Fire Training to request a visit from a
regional Fire Department Service Supervisor to discuss training program options and training
record concerns. MFT&E maintains individual records only for those students who have
completed one of the state’s certification courses. MFT&E does not, at this time, maintain
individual records for other courses. Other issues specific to current or future state requirements
for maintaining training records should be referred to the Maine Bureau of Labor Standards.
Health & Safety:
The department should train all officers and fulltime staff as incident safety officers. The training
should place an emphasis on: building construction, fire behavior, incident command, personnel
accountability, and risk management. This training is provided by the National Fire Academy
and MFT&E. (The NFA is now offering “Advanced Safety Operations Management” a 6-day
course combining incident safety officer and health & safety officer programs into one program.
It was recently offered in Maine for very low cost and was attended by 30 firefighters and state
occupational safety managers.) Any in-house efforts regarding health and occupational safety
should follow the guidance of NFPA Standard 1500. The state’s labor safety standards
department has indicated that any public fire department in Maine that complies with the 1500
standard is already meeting all state requirements. The department should have a special written
protocol and procedure for investigating and dealing with a firefighter line-of-duty injury or
It is recommended that you include a section to address internal communications. The section
should cover means of communicating important information to members between the monthly
meeting intervals. Suggestions include an in-house newsletter emailed to all members, as well as
posting news items on the department website at least daily or weekly. It is too easy for
information to be lost in the weeks between regular monthly meetings. An emergency telephone-
tree should be created to disseminate essential emergency information or important department
business (such as a member’s death). A means for ensuring all department members know and
understand department policies and procedures is needed.
A critical concern for emergency responders is interoperability of radios among the various
response services (i.e., emergency management, public works, police, fire, and EMS).
Department radios should be interoperable with other local services and mutual aid departments.
All officer and apparatus radios should have the “statewide-car-to-car” frequency installed, as
well the regional state forestry department frequency for monitoring purposes. All members who
may use the radios should be trained in proper radio etiquette and the operational characteristics
of any installed special technology (repeaters, etc.). After being paged out for an alarm and once
all responding units are on scene all radios should be switched to a local tactical frequency with
the KRCC primary frequency being reserved for dispatch and direct communications to KRCC
only. Command officers, sector officers, and all crews using self-contained breathing apparatus
at an incident should be assigned radios for use.
Pre-fire planning is essential to effective local fire protection and the department should ensure
that it has an active program that involves the officers in conducting surveys of target hazards.
The pre-fire plans should be maintained with a copy kept in each apparatus, a copy in each
chief’s vehicle, and a master office copy. A computerized database of building survey
information should be maintained on a secure computer having limited access and backed up on
a regular basis. Working with mutual aid and automatic aid companies and sharing information
is absolutely essential. While Knox County Mutual Aid Association meetings are useful for the
chief officers, consideration should be given to regular meetings and drills with the company
officers of the mutual aid companies to discuss and critique mutual aid operations, tactical issues,
and water supply issues. The County Association is useful in general way, but meetings of local
officers who frequently work together might prove beneficial and encourage more effort in
furthering automatic aid.
The department should continue to cooperate with the water company to continue to install
additional hydrants and interconnections (loops) in the supply grid at strategic locations to
improve pressure and supply. The department should continue to develop alternative water
suction supplies working with property owners to permit access where needed. Legal agreements
between the parties need not be overly complicated so as to discourage these opportunities to
improve rural fire protection. Improvements to the water supply should be documented for
review by the ISO so that any potential credits received be reflected in the Public Protection
Classification (PPC) which is now Class 4/9 (4 in hydrant areas and 9 elsewhere).
The ISO’s requirement for total pumping capacity (3,500GPM) and ladder-service is the driving
force behind the total number and types of trucks required. Excepting a handful of target hazards
in town, many of which are protected by sprinklers, the fire risks are low to moderate in severity.
The general infrequency of serious fires helps in terms of managing the general risk of fire. A
formal agreement (acceptable to the ISO) to share first-due engine and ladder apparatus on an
automatic basis could allow for an eventual reduction in the total number of trucks. Because of
ISO requirements for minimum first-due area coverage any agreement could have an impact in
the corners of the town. Camden, as well as any town or city considering consolidation or
regionalization, will have to deal with the ISO grading schedule. To do so means that fire
insurance premium rates might be affected for some property owners, with some rates going up
and some going down. The political difficulty will be balancing the impact of changes and the
transfer of financial burdens for fire protection coverage, whether that is through insurance or
fire trucks. When the ISO introduces the new 8-B class, the department should submit the
necessary paperwork and conduct any exercises required to earn the reclassification for the
existing Class 9 areas (more than 1,000 ft from a pressurized hydrant). Most of this area is
residential and may or may not benefit from a Class 8-B; any commercial structures in these
areas may see some benefit. Efforts to upgrade the Class 4 areas should be carefully evaluated by
a cost-benefit analysis. Funding improvements to fire department capability to increase the ISO
Class 4 may not benefit all taxpayers equally. Improvements in the Class 4 (hydrant area) area
would primarily benefit commercial properties through lower insurance premiums at the expense
of all taxpayers. State Farm Insurance and Allstate Insurance do not use the ISO Public Property
Classification system data for setting rates, therefore any improvements to Camden’s ISO rating
would not be seen by rate payers holding policies written by these two companies. Most of the
other insurance companies only use the ISO PPC data for policies on commercial properties; for
residential properties the so-called “suburban rule” applies. This rule has properties eligible for
insurance coverage if they are within five miles of the nearest fire station in their jurisdiction.
Under the rule, properties within five miles of the fire station and within 1,000 feet of a
pressurized hydrant may receive a better classification.
Apparatus Inventory and Replacement:
The apparatus replacement schedule is thought-out and structured in its assumptions. The plan
assumes an average life span of 25 years per apparatus, give or take a year due to rotation needs
and reserve requirements. A contingency factor for unforeseen problems, emergencies, or
failures is not included or factored. The scheduled replacement of Camden’s apparatus follows a
general plan that has been relied upon and adapted as needed over the years. Having an apparatus
replacement schedule gives town officials information essential to long-term budget planning as
fire trucks are considered capital items. The town sets aside an amount of money (now $30,000)
each year into a capital improvement fund. The amount of money may be adjusted according to
assumed costs for vehicles to be replaced in the future at a specified time. In the 2004 fiscal year
the fire service capital reserve fund will have $200,000, voters will be asked to approve spending
$250,000 on the new truck (a pumper/tanker), and thus have to finance the $50,000 balance most
likely by diverting $25,000 in 2005 and 2006 that would have gone to the capital reserve fund.
As there may be a need to replace the utility vehicle in 2006 the $5,000 balance from 2005 and
2006 should go to purchasing a used vehicle from the town’s public works department.
When the new pumper/tanker goes into service probably sometime late in 2004 or early 2005, E-
2 and E-3 will be retired, with E-6 moving to reserve. Engine 2 is a 1972 model, purchased new
for $8,000, that has served the town well in its early years and less so in more recent years as it
has pump problems and the water tank leaks. Engine 3 is a 1983 model, purchased new for
$8,000, which has also served the town well filling various special roles, once as the first-out
attack truck despite its limited pumping capacity of 250-300GPM. Engine 6 is a 1981 model,
purchased new for $20,000, it has a long history with the department, but much of that history
has been its notorious pump problems. Neither E-2 nor E-3 is recognized by the ISO (Insurance
Services Office) for purposes of determining Camden’s PPC (ISO Public Protection
Classification). Engine 6, to be moved to reserve status, is destined for replacement in 2012.
Though E-6 has passed the required annual pump service tests, it does so with some difficulty.
The service tests have shown that the pump will produce 700GPM (which is less than its rated
capacity) at its rated engine RPM, however, with some effort the pump can be made to produce
the rated 1,000GPM capacity, but at an engine speed in excess of its rated RPM. Engine 6 was
refurbished in 1999 for $36,000. This truck also had major pump work done in the mid-90s.
According to the replacement schedule the truck will be in reserve status for the next eight years.
Any failure of this truck prompting a request for funds to maintain its reserve status should raise
a red flag of concern for all involved in the decision and approval process. With the recent
refurbishment, various pump repairs, and any on-going maintenance to keep the truck in reserve
status the town will have ultimately paid twice its original cost toward keeping it functioning.
The department should pay particular attention to and stay advised of the status of “Annex D”
recommendations found in NFPA 1901 – Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus (2003 ed.). In
1991 the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) made significant changes to the 1901
standard governing construction of fire apparatus. As Engine 1 is a 1991 model there may be a
question as to whether or not it was built to specifications based on a pre-1991 version of NFPA
1901 or built to meet the 1991 version. Fortunately, Engine 1 does appear to have most of the
safety features required in the 1991 edition of the standard, however the department should
verify the standard actually built to for future reference should Annex D become required rather
than recommended. Annex D recommendations would apply to Engine 6 as it is a 1981-model.
Though recently refurbished, the department should evaluate E-6 to determine whether or not the
truck meets the NFPA recommendations. Annex D also covers aerial equipment and the
department should carefully evaluate Ladder 1 to ascertain whether it has all of the
recommended safety features and file a report with the Select Board for future reference. A copy
of Annex D from NFPA 1901 (2003 ed.) is provided below.
NFPA 1903 – Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus (2003 ed.)
Annex D Guidelines for First Line and Reserve Apparatus
This annex is not a part of the requirements of this NFPA document but is included for informational
D.1 Brief Summary.
To maximize fire fighter capabilities and minimize risk of injuries, it is important that fire apparatus be
equipped with the latest safety features and operating capabilities. In the last 10 to 15 years, much
progress has been made in upgrading functional capabilities and improving the safety features of fire
apparatus. Apparatus built prior to 1991 might have few of the safety upgrades required by the 1991 and
subsequent editions of the NFPA fire department apparatus standards or the equivalent Underwriters'
Laboratories of Canada (ULC) standards. Because the changes, upgrades, and fine tuning to NFPA 1901
since 1991 have been truly significant, especially in the area of safety, fire departments should seriously
consider the value (or risk) to firefighters by keeping pre-1991 fire apparatus in first-line service.
The 1991 edition of the NFPA fire department apparatus standards included, among many other things,
requirements for fully enclosed riding areas, stronger aerial ladders, auxiliary braking systems, reflective
striping, improved warning lights, and no roof-mounted audible warning devices. The 1991 editions have
been recognized as the benchmark from which the new, improved apparatus have evolved. It is
recommended that only apparatus that meet the 1991 or later editions of the NFPA apparatus standards
or that are refurbished in accordance with NFPA 1912 be permitted to operate in first-line service, to
ensure that the latest improvements and upgrades are available for the firefighters.
It is recommended that apparatus built to meet the 1979 or 1985 edition of NFPA 1901 (or equivalent
ULC standards) be placed in reserve status and upgraded to incorporate as many features of the post-
1991 fire apparatus as possible (see Section D.3). Apparatus not built to NFPA apparatus standards or
manufactured prior to 1979 (over 24 years old) should be considered for upgrading or replacement.
It is a generally accepted fact that fire apparatus, like all types of mechanical devices, have a finite life.
How long that is depends on many factors. Some of those factors are mileage, quality of the preventative
maintenance program, quality of the driver training program and rules enforcement, quality of the original
builder and components, availability of parts, and custom or commercial chassis to name a few. In the fire
service, there are fire apparatus with 8 to 10 years of service that are just plain worn out. There are also
fire apparatus that were built with quality components, that had excellent maintenance, and that have
responded to a minimum number of runs that are still serviceable after 20 years. Most would agree that
the quality and timeliness of maintenance are perhaps the most significant factors in determining how well
a fire apparatus ages.
Prior to 1991, the fire department apparatus standards were basically “reactive standards.” That is to say,
if something proved out in field use for a few years, it might have been suggested for inclusion in NFPA
1901. It was a very basic standard. After forming a Safety Task Group within the Fire Department
Apparatus Committee in the late 1980s and looking at the current status of the standard, the Committee
decided to become proactive and to greatly enhance the value of the standard for the fire service.
The completely revised 1991 edition was the result of the efforts of many task groups and the full
committee's strong desire to make the automotive fire apparatus standards more “safety oriented and
user friendly.” In 1991, four standards were actually issued: NFPA 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire
Apparatus; NFPA 1902, Initial Attack Fire Apparatus; NFPA 1903, Mobile Water Supply Fire Apparatus;
and NFPA 1904, Aerial Ladder and Elevating Platform Fire Apparatus.
Contained within the 1991 editions of the fire department apparatus standards were requirements for
such items as increased battery capacity to ensure starting under most conditions; intersection lights for
increased visibility; removal of all roof-mounted audible warning devices to reduce hearing problems; a
flashing light in the cab to warn if a cab or body door is open; a backup alarm; an automatic transmission
to make it easier to drive (unless the purchaser had a specific reason for a manual transmission); fully
enclosed riding areas with reduced noise (dBA) levels to keep the crew members safe, warm (or cool),
and informed as to what is happening; seats and seat belts for all crew members riding on the apparatus;
failsafe door handles so the sleeve of a coat will not inadvertently catch a handle and open a door; and
signs requiring everyone to be seated and belted.
In the pump area, the standard specified that 3 in. (76 mm) or larger valves be “slow close,” that caps be
tested to 500 psi (3400 kPa), that an intake relief valve be provided to help manage incoming pressure,
that 30 degree sweep elbows be provided on the discharges to eliminate hose kinking, and that all 3 in.
and larger discharges be eliminated from the pump panel to reduce the possibility of injuries to the pump
In the body area, the minimum step surface size and load-carrying capabilities were increased, handrails
were required to be slip resistant, and reflective striping was required on all four sides of the apparatus.
Electrical system requirements for line voltage were upgraded to require the use of “listed” components
that were grounded.
Many requirements were added to increase the operating capabilities of all aerial devices. For aerial
ladders, the minimum design strength of the rungs was increased, a height requirement for the hand rails
was specified, a minimum load carrying requirement for folding steps was specified, and the aerial ladder
had to have a minimum carrying capacity of 250 lb (114 kg) at the tip at zero degrees elevation at
maximum extension. Where a water tower was equipped with a ladder, the same requirements that
applied to an aerial ladder were required of the ladder on the water tower.
The carrying capacity of elevating platforms at zero degrees full extension was raised to 750 lb (340 kg).
Elevating platforms were also required to have handrails, breathing air available in the platform (with low
air warning capability) for at least two firefighters, and a water curtain cooling system under the platform.
All aerial devices had to be capable of supporting a static load of 1½ times their rated capacity in any
position. A requirement for a stabilizer movement alarm and reflective striping with warning lights was
added. Interlocks to prevent inadvertent movement to an unsupported side and to prevent raising the
aerial device prior to the stabilizers being deployed were specified. One hundred percent nondestructive
tests became a requirement with increased safety and strength of materials also being required.
All this happened in just the 1991 editions of the NFPA apparatus standards. Subsequent revisions in
1996 and 1999 further enhanced the safety and operating characteristics of all the apparatus. For
example, the 1999 edition included chapters on quints and mobile foam apparatus, further defined slip
resistance of stepping and walking surfaces, called for better mounting of equipment in the driving and
crew compartment, required predelivery testing of foam systems, and specified that fill stations for
breathing-air cylinders be designed to totally contain a rupturing cylinder.
D.3 Upgrading or Refurbishing Fire Apparatus.
Any apparatus, whether in first-line or reserve service, should be upgraded as necessary to
ensure that the following features are included as a minimum:
(1) Fully enclosed seating is provided for all members riding on the fire apparatus.
(2) Warning lights meet the current standard.
(3) Reflective striping meets the current standard.
(4) Slip resistance of walking surfaces and handrails meets the current standard.
(5) A low voltage electrical system load manager is installed if the total continuous load exceeds the
(6) Where the GVWR is 36,000 lb (16,000 kg) or more, an auxiliary braking system is installed and
(7) Ground and step lights meet the current standard.
(8) Noise levels in the driving and crew compartment(s) meet the current standard.
(9) Engine belts, fuel lines, and filters have been replaced in accordance with the manufacturers'
(10) Brakes, brake lines, and wheel seals have been replaced or serviced in accordance with the
manufacturers' maintenance schedule.
(11) Tires and suspension are in serviceable condition.
(12) All horns and sirens are relocated from the roof to a position as low and as far forward as
(13) Seat belts are available for every seat and are new or in serviceable condition.
(14) Sign plates are present stating no riding on open areas.
(15) A complete weight analysis shows the fire apparatus is not over individual axle or total GVW
(16) The fire pump meets or exceeds its original pump rating.
(17) Alternator output meets its rating.
(18) Water tank and baffles are not corroded or distorted.
(19) A transmission shift pump interlock is present and working properly on vehicles equipped with an
(20) All loose equipment in the driving and crew areas is securely mounted to prevent its movement in
case of an accident.
(21) The radiator has been serviced in accordance with the manufacturers' maintenance schedule
and all cooling system hoses are new or in serviceable condition.
(22) If so equipped, the generator and line voltage accessories have been tested and meet the
(23) If equipped with an aerial device, a complete test to original specifications has been conducted
and certified by a certified testing laboratory.
Fire department administrators and fire chiefs should exercise special care when evaluating the
cost of refurbishing or updating an apparatus versus the cost of a new fire apparatus. A thorough
cost-benefit analysis of the “value” of upgrading or refurbishing a fire apparatus should be
conducted. In many instances, it will be found that refurbishing costs will greatly exceed the
current value of similar apparatus.
Apparatus not built to NFPA apparatus standards or manufactured prior to 1979 (over 24 years
old) should be considered for upgrading or replacement.
New Pumper/Tanker (due in-service 2005):
The specifications for the new apparatus went out to bid in May 2004. The apparatus has been
designated to replace two existing units (E-2 and E-3). The new piece is designed for multi-
functional water supply capabilities in hydrant and non-hydrant areas. The chief refers to the
truck as a “water delivery platform.” The apparent trends for development in Camden shows new
construction in non-hydrant areas at varying distances from the fire station, in-fill development
in hydrant areas within town, renovation of existing commercial buildings, and some
replacement of older buildings in the downtown area. The new piece will provide dual
capabilities in its intended configuration as a water delivery vehicle, pumping from hydrants,
drafting from static sources, or hauling tank water for dumping, and thus provide a great
flexibility for responses to structure fires in all areas of town.
The planned order of response from the station has Engine 5 going first, Engine 1 out second,
Ladder 1 out third, followed fourth by the new pumper/tanker. The new pumper/tanker will
respond to any automatic aid, mutual aid, or special call requiring Ladder 1, to serve as its water
supply. The new pumper/tanker will also be the principal truck to respond to all mutual aid calls
in Hope, Lincolnville, and Rockport where there are large areas without benefit of hydrant
service and special rural water supply methods must be employed. It is our opinion that the
utility and function provided by this truck will have a positive influence on department
operations and capability in Camden and surrounding communities.
Questions concerning whether or not this is the right truck for Camden, as well as whether the
truck is even needed must be addressed. This apparatus is a departure from the configuration of
Camden’s current fleet. Intended primarily as a multi-task, water supply platform, the truck will
be a commercial chassis with seating for three personnel. Generally speaking, a commercial
chassis will cost less than a custom-made. Given the response order, bench-seating for three is
appropriate and the truck may even run occasionally with one operator. Well designed, equipped,
and outfitted to serve the non-hydrant (rural and suburban) areas of Camden its design and layout
very closely matches the apparatus of surrounding towns and thus will fit into the area’s rural
water supply operations. Had the truck been designed strictly in a tanker configuration it would
have cost less, but it would have lost the functionality of also being a pumper. Carrying the
classification of pumper/tanker, it receives ISO credit and makes it the truck to send on mutual
aid calls and to run with L-1 on out-of-town ladder-service calls. The plan assumes a 20-25 year
life span for the new piece; by normal rotation this truck will move into reserve status around
2025, about the time the ladder truck will be scheduled for replacement.
In 2012, E-6 will be permanently retired and replaced with a commercial pumper. At this time,
E-1 will then go to reserve status until 2017 when it is then scheduled for replacement with a
custom pumper. The utility vehicle, according to the plan, will be replaced in 2006 by one from
the highway department. As a used vehicle, its estimated life span is approximately 11 years,
thus due for replacement again 2017. This replacement is not reflected in the (master) plan and
will amount to at least another $25,000 being added to the overall fleet total. Also in 2017,
Engine 5 will go into reserve status with replacement slated for 2024. In 2020 the department
will likely begin to think about replacing the aerial ladder truck. The replacement of the ladder
should be no later than 2025, as the truck will have 30 years of service by then. The period 2024-
2025 will be costly for town taxpayers as the cost of replacing an engine and ladder with custom
manufactured equipment will be roughly $900,000.
When you take the long view and apply simple math to the proposed apparatus replacement
schedule by carrying it out through the year 2025 it reflects a total future expenditure of $1.45
million. This amount is the estimated cost for purchasing fire trucks between the years 2007 and
2025. During this span, approximately $570,000 will have been set aside in the capital reserve
fund, assuming $30,000 per year and of course no major emergency repairs are needed for
apparatus or pumps. The difference between $1.45 million and $570,000 is $880,000; this is the
amount the town will have to raise over 19 years, in addition to the capital reserve funds, to
replace the utility vehicle, engines 1, 6, 5, and the ladder truck. To actually fund the purchase of
these trucks without borrowing would require the town to set aside no less than $76,316 per year,
instead of the $30,000 it actually does set aside. This figure is the true cost of apparatus
replacement for Camden and is over 2.5 times the amount the town is actually putting aside.
(Note: These figures are estimates and not adjusted for inflation, do not account for finance
charges, do not account for increases in the cost of building trucks, and do not account for any
interest earned on the monies sitting in the capital reserve account.)
There is always some latitude to reexamine decisions regarding apparatus and such decisions
should pay particular attention to any noted difficulties with adequacy and quality of response.
Given the demographic trend in Camden and the surrounding area the response and staffing issue
will likely only worsen. All the towns now seem affected by it to one degree or another. It is
inevitable, if trends in southern Maine are any indication, that there will be an increased
emphasis on exploring alternative service delivery methods, automatic aid, consolidation, and
regionalization in the coming years. Purchasing apparatus that ensure flexibility and functionality
in the operational capability are highly recommended. Such apparatus provide options in
Other Equipment Replacement:
The plan calls for an eight year service life for turn-out gear. According to Globe
Manufacturing’s Product Information Workbook (2003 ed.), the actual life expectancy of
firefighter protective ensembles may be 3-5 years, and in some cases even less than three years.
The department should pay particular attention to this and routinely inspect the moisture barrier
of the turn-out gear. A simple and inexpensive field test (using a cup of water) may be conducted
to test the integrity and proper functioning of the liner assembly. All turn-out gear should be
routinely inspected for signs of: char, heat damage, fabric damage, thread/seam damage,
discoloration, moisture barrier integrity, knit distortion, reflective trim intact, and hardware for
wear. Records of gear inspections should be maintained. Gear is susceptible to damage for
sunlight (ultraviolet rays) and should not be stored near window glass. The same goes for any
gear kept in a firefighter’s personal vehicle. Helmets are listed as having an eight year service
life. This is an estimate and should also be weighed against any thermal degradation or impact
damage. Even dropping a helmet may cause unseen damage to the impact cap and thus
compromise the wearer’s protection. All equipment should be inspected and properly cleaned
after exposure to chemicals or products of combustion. Cleaning should be done by a certified
laundry professional or in-house using special, extractor-type washing machine. Turn-out gear is
generally air-dried only. Gear should only be altered by a professional in accordance with NFPA
and ANSI standards.
Fire Prevention and Code Enforcement:
Plan review is an important function for a progressive fire department. It provides an opportunity
for input into the approval process for new commercial construction and other large
developments that affect fire service operations. All members involved in review of plans should
obtain NFPA certification as a Plans Examiner. The NFPA offers an excellent, structured, self-
study program that involves the student in plans review of actual projects for compliance with
the NFPA’s Uniform Fire Prevention Code, Mechanical Code, and Life Safety Code, all of
which are enforced in Maine by the State Fire Marshal. The department should maintain close
communication with the Code Enforcement Officer so as to have the opportunity to be aware of
building and development activity in town. A member of the department should attend planning
board meetings when projects are being reviewed that may affect fire department operations. The
department should seek every opportunity to participate in permit reviews and conduct proper
inspections where occupancy permits are required. The town should consider having the two
paid firefighters trained and certified as code enforcement officers as they are in a good position
to serve as back-ups to the fulltime CEO.
How much input do Camden citizens really have? They certainly have the opportunity for a say
regarding capital improvements and apparatus through their town vote. What about input into
less tangible, but costly things that have a direct relationship to what the department does and
how it does it? Decisions regarding the department’s level of service, staffing arrangements,
performance benchmarks, and resource deployment standards all represent direct costs to
taxpayers. Are there ways to bring citizen input directly into the process or at least ensure that
the Select Board understands the impact of such decisions so they know what questions to ask
and how to make good decisions based upon facts? What is an “effective emergency response”
and how do you measure it? What is an “acceptable level of risk” and how is it measured? What
is an “acceptable level of accountability” what is it measured against?
The short answer is that fire service organizations need to periodically engage in strategic
planning. As a “reactionary” force that responds to emergencies on a daily basis it is all too easy
to get caught in the trap of putting out those “daily brush fires” and losing sight of the big
picture. Effective fire protection service is very important to the town’s citizens and they appear
to be generally willing to fund most all requests. However, there will come a time when someone
will inevitably question fire department expenditures. This is not necessarily a bad thing and
every attempt should be made to answer such questions. Failure to answer questions effectively
and put to rest concerns can build to a critical mass and cripple a department’s ability to function.
The elected officials of the town also have to have a “level of comfort” with the department
overall, its leadership, and its ability to change in changing times. To periodically engage in
strategic or master planning is not a bad thing and in fact can be a healthy exercise for the town
and the fire department leadership.
The Fire Department Operational Plan reviewed by this study is in part an attempt at master
planning. It is tempting to ask the question: Does the Camden Fire Department need to have a
master plan, but it might make more sense to ask this question instead: Does the Camden Select
Board have a “level of comfort” with the direction and leadership of the department? If yes, then
perhaps there is no need to engage is full-fledged master planning right now. If no, what are the
benefits to be gained from master planning? Master planning should involve a process that
includes key stakeholders and will allow the town to develop an understanding of the current
situation and create an opportunity to decide the future of emergency services in Camden.
Planning will enable the town to identify gaps in needed resources, as well as predict with some
reliability resource needs for the future. This process will provide an opportunity for self-
evaluation and the chance to design an emergency service that meets your needs now and in the
future. Following a structured planning model designed for fire and rescue agencies will enable
the town to create a framework for emergency service resource deployment. This framework will
provide a legally defensible document in the form of a resource deployment standard.
RECOMMENDATION: Some departments that choose to create a resource deployment
standard or standard of cover do so as part of their participation in the national fire service
accreditation program. We feel that official participation the national model is too costly
and unwarranted. There are alternative planning models to follow that are available at no
cost, and carry no application fees or other obligations. Maine Fire Training & Education
can provide the town with information or direct assistance in this matter. This information
is available via the Internet to any good researcher. Any planning model that results in a
resource deployment standard or standard of cover will get you where you need to go.
MFT&E recommends that the Camden Fire Department develop a resource deployment
standard and a master plan.
Resource Deployment Standard / Standard of Cover Explained:
Public emergency service agencies have traditionally depended upon basic analysis of call
volume and anecdotal information to define levels of response. Lacking a more structured,
methodical, or scientific approach we have had no other choice but to accept subjective
judgments. The public has relied, in good faith, on the experience and judgment of the people
who manage emergency services. Rarely are decisions questioned. Why? The answer is easy.
The emergency services are highly respected by the community. Few people outside the
profession know enough to ask serious questions. When questions are raised they are rarely
about resource deployment, but rather about how much something costs. When the public asks,
“Do we really need this?” and the chief answers, “Yes, we do” it is generally accepted
unequivocally. This has been the status quo, but those days are fast changing as municipal
budgets are increasingly strained.
In the past 30 years researchers and fire service experts have attempted to create analytical
models to evaluate community fire protection and their efforts have brought results. In an effort
to enhance the credibility of the fire service the International Association of Fire Chiefs
developed an accreditation process for municipal fire departments modeled after a very similar
program long used by the law enforcement community. The fire service accreditation process
involves an agency in self-evaluation following a structured strategic planning process resulting
in a standard of cover.
A standard of cover or resource deployment standard consists of written policies and procedures
that determine the distribution and concentration of fixed and mobile resources of an
organization. Recently the National Fire Protection Association published two new standards for
deployment covering career and volunteer fire-rescue departments. These two standards 1710
and 1720 caused quite a flap because they purported to set “standards” for local fire and EMS
resource deployment. Many held this to be just another case of national standards dictating local
control over local issues.
The issue with 1710 and 1720 is that they may be interpreted as standards that must be followed.
The problem is you cannot follow 1710 or 1720 until you undertake a community risk analysis,
evaluate existing resource levels, and document response capability, among other things. To fail
to undertake such an evaluation is unwise. Should you fail in some way to meet the national
standard you may increase your liability because you were unable to “deliver your resources” per
the set standard. Creating a resource deployment standard (or standard of cover) for a
community says in effect, “This is what we have for resources and this is what we can deliver.”
Bruce Hensler, Deputy Fire Administrator, served as principal consultant for this study completed in May 2004.