Should we put a generator on our new fire truck?

It wasn’t that long ago that the only way to effectively light up an emergency scene was to employ 115V scene lights. Need a fan, cord reel or other AC driven appliance? No problem just plug into your on board generator. Need to run your hydraulic pump for your rescue tools? Easy, just hard wire it to the load center powered by your on board generator. It was like magic when on board generators first started to be used on fire apparatus. All of the sudden you had effective lighting and powerful tools at your fingertips. The cost for all of this did not come cheap. Diesel generators are maintenance hogs. Hydraulic generators required less maintenance and are more reliable, but are 2-3 times the price of a diesel.

Let’s not forget about the whole AMPS generator self destructing thing either. What a nightmare that had become for owners.

Thankfully (we think) times have changed with the evolution of LED scene lighting and battery powered rescue tools and hand held equipment. Although this equipment isn’t coming cheap either, the reliability and service life seems to be very good.

In our opinion, having the ability to utilize 12V LED scene lighting may have been the biggest improvement. Not only do they lesson your vehicle maintenance, the fixtures also produce more lumens than your standard quartz light. If you have already looked into LED lighting than you know what we are talking about. If you haven’t, we encourage you to see a demo. It is amazing what these lights can do.

We do still believe that the jury is still out in regards to the battery operated tools. Reliability of the tools seem to be very good. After all, battery operated tools have been around for a long time now in the civilian market. It’s the battery charging aspect that has us a little concerned. Obviously (but maybe not to some) these battery chargers or charging circuits should be installed by a qualified technician. There are some great battery conditioners on the market, just be sure you are utilizing the right one for your application. The last thing you want to have is battery conditioner overheating due to faulty wiring, incorrect conditioner size or model being used.

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