The Econic with Rosenbauer turntable ladder can also master low and narrow passageways.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber in northern Bavaria is known the world over for its old town from the Middle Ages, with the cobbled streets, timber-frame houses and extremely tight passages – a treasure of civil engineering from times gone by, but by far unsuited to the dimensions of our present day trucks. For the town's volunteer fire service, this represents a true challenge when it comes to putting together and operating their fleet of vehicles. In critical situations, they also need to be able to directly deploy turntable ladders to ensure rapid protection of the beautiful historic buildings there, without having to take a detour around the walled city. With this in mind, the solution they came up with was to use a new type of extremely flat Rosenbauer turntable ladder installed on an Econic chassis.
When it came to issuing their tender for a new turntable ladder appliance, it was clear from the beginning that the vehicle would need to be "as compact as possible", recalls Jürgen Holstein, Fire Safety Inspector and Commander of Rothenburg's fire service. The choice was quickly whittled down to the new L32AcXS Flat turntable ladder installed on a Mercedes-Benz Econic 1830 by Karlsruhe-based specialist bodybuilder Rosenbauer.
The body benefits from the already low vehicle construction which the Econic offers thanks to its low-entry cab. Plus, Rosenbauer even managed to strim back a few more decisive centimetres. To reduce the Econic's standard width by 10 cm to 2.40 m, the standard front axle was modified and the chassis was downrated to a permissible gross vehicle weight of 16 t.
All other proven aspects of the Econic, such as its engine and drivetrain, were able to be kept in their standard version. Another important component on-board the vehicle is the Allison transmission which not only relieves strain on the driver, but also assists them in weaving through the town's streets as swiftly as possible. What's more, the efficient, 299-hp diesel engine of the Econic also fulfils the Euro VI emissions standards.
In order to obtain tight turning circles in the twisting, narrow streets of Rothenburg, the Econic used by the volunteer fire service there is equipped with a steerable rear axle. "Without the rear-axle auxiliary steering, some spots around the old town would be virtually impossible to get round, at least not without wasting vast amounts of time and effort manoeuvring," explains driver Michael Schweizer concisely. The rear-axle auxiliary steering from Kessler is operated ergonomically using a joystick and even allows the vehicle to "crab" forwards or backwards diagonally.
The latest generation of flat turntable ladder.
The overall height of this Econic with low cab is around 3 m. The new-generation, five-section Rosenbauer L32A-XS Flat turntable ladder carries a 4650-mm-long, inclinable basket boom which can be extended to a maximum working height of 32 m – perfect for tackling even the most tough-to-reach fires at great heights.
The HR-500 MF basket with multifunctional riser can carry loads of up to 0.5 t – a truly impressive figure. When it comes to rescuing people, just a few hand movements are all it takes to attach a stretcher, whilst firefighting is facilitated by an oscillating RM 15 turret mounted to the basket with a delivery rate of up to 2000 l/min. "I can control the turret either using the control panel in the basket or from the main set of controls," explains Michael Schweizer.
Even the basket construction was taken into account when reducing the width of the vehicle, so as not to overhang. Special focus was also always placed on safety and visibility. As the compact body covers the blue lights on the cab, additional blue LED strobes were added underneath the rescue basket.
A ray of light with plenty of stowage space.
Among the crews at the station, the Econic has already been nicknamed their "ray of light": numerous headlamps assure illumination of the working areas around the vehicle. Two LED floodlights with 120 W output each are installed on the ladder base to ensure that no obstacles are overseen when extending the ladder. Around the basket, there is a total of ten further LED lamps. This generous illumination facilitates the work of the firefighters who are already more than impressed by a number of other characteristics which the Econic brings to the table.
Among those is the spacious interior of the cab: the Econic cab has space for three crew members and, despite its compact height, there is still plenty of headroom. The vehicle also features a clever solution for maximising the available stowage space: the seat backrests can be used for stowing each firefighter's breathing apparatus in a space-saving way. At the rear of the vehicle, six cavernous compartments with roller shutters offer sufficient space for a range of other equipment items, such as hoses, fall protection, Rollgliss abseiling equipment and lighting equipment.
Without the rear-axle auxiliary steering, some spots around the old town would be virtually impossible to get round.
Michael Schweizer, driver, volunteer fire service in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Safely to the scene.
Possibly the greatest advantage of the Econic is that there is no other truck that offers such a high level of safety as the Mercedes-Benz special truck does – both for vehicle occupants and for other road users. The low seating position of the driver makes it possible for them to establish a direct line of sight with the surrounding traffic. And that's a decisive factor when dangerous situations call for a rapid reaction by the driver. Further improving the visibility for Rothenburg's fire service is a reversing camera and a number of other cameras installed on the basket and the boom.
One aspect which crews particularly appreciate is the low entry into the cab via the nearside door. It's not only easy on the knees and back when getting in and out wearing full firefighting kit, it also protects against accidents caused by stumbling or previously unnoticed obstacles alongside the vehicle.
The vehicle thus offers the best possible protection for firefighting crews as they go about protecting the historic old town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber against fire.