Extended deployment

The LHF 16/12 of the Berlin fire department is undergoing a general overhaul so that it can be used beyond its planned service life.

Fire-fighting assistance vehicles (LHF) are the all-rounders of the Berlin fire department. They are their "Swiss Army knives," as the vehicles are equipped for the most diverse deployment scenarios. The vehicle fleet comprises more than 170 LHFs, of which more than 100 are LHF 16/12, the average service lives of which are currently exceeding the scheduled service life by several years. And they have to stay in service even longer, which is why the Berlin fire department has decided to carry out a general overhaul of vehicles built from 2001 onwards.

43 City-LHFs have already been repaired and modernized, more will follow. In the following interview, Christoph Stiller, Head of Vehicle Maintenance at the Berlin fire department, explains what has been done with the vehicles and how the repair program, in which Rosenbauer is also involved, had to be planned in order to avoid disrupting the regular routine of the watches, and how the measure was received by the fire services:

Mr. Stiller, what were the most important reasons and aims for the refurbishment of the LHF 16/12?

Christoph Stiller: We handle by far the largest part of our missions with the LHF, no matter whether it is technical assistance, fire, or rescue missions. Our LHF fleet must therefore always be operational and state of the art. This was no longer the case with the older vehicles, and replacing them with new ones was not an option over the short term. So we have developed a repair program with the aim of extending the service life of the vehicles by at least five years and at the same time increasing the reliability of our vehicle fleet.

What is the main focus of the general overhaul of the vehicles?

Christoph Stiller: On the one hand the supporting parts of the firefighting superstructure, on the other hand the water technology installed in the vehicle. And because we have to dismantle the body anyway and the chassis is exposed, we also check chassis components such as axles, springs, and brake cylinders, replace damaged parts, repair body parts, and replace leaking hydraulic connections.

How does the repair program work in practice and what measures are taken?

Christoph Stiller: The vehicles are first checked for visible defects and the condition of the vehicle is comprehensively documented with pictures. Particular importance is attached to the connection between the chassis and body, i.e., vehicle and subframe, because these parts are subjected to the greatest stress. For the superstructures itself, seals in particular are replaced, damaged slats of roller shutter closures are replaced, worn mounting strips are replaced, and defective lights, illuminants, or switches and displays are replaced, to mention just the most important measures. The firefighting pump is removed, checked for leaks and output, and completely overhauled. In some cases, entire pump components have to be replaced, worn valves replaced, and new flaps installed, because the water from Berlin's deep wells with which we fill our extinguishing agent tanks is very sandy.

What was the biggest challenge in this project?

Christoph Stiller: To make sure everyone involved in the repair program was in sync: our own workshops, the service departments of Rosenbauer and MAN, as well as a number of other external partners. For this reason, we assigned a dedicated colleague to supervise the complex logistics and ensure close controlling. For example, he ensures that no workshop is overstretched, that vehicles are transferred from one place to the other in good time, that the vacant spaces are immediately "reoccupied" and that deadlines are met. Just imagine a conveyor belt working across several locations - and it's working wonderfully well now.

What do the fire departments say about their "new" vehicles?

Christoph Stiller: They're all excited. On the one hand, this has to do with the fact that they now have fully functional state-of-the-art vehicles again. But this is also due to the fact that, as part of the repair program, we have taken measures to improve ergonomics and operating comfort. An example of this is the installation of new bench dampers if they were defective. Now, they no longer hit the frame unchecked, but close gently - another potential risk of injury and annoyance eliminated. And the vehicles were comprehensively cleaned inside and outside. It makes a huge difference when you can feel comfortable in the crew cab again, everything is in its place, and all the equipment is working. We also had the vehicles re-foiled. This not only enhances the overall look, but also corresponds to the current corporate design of the Berlin fire department. All in all a successful campaign that will be continued.

Many thanks for the interview.

Portrait LHF 16/12

  • Chassis MB Atego / MAN 10.224
  • Crew: 1 + 8
  • Extinguishing agent tanks: 1,200 l water, 120 l foam compound
  • Firefighting pump: R240 with 1,600 l/min at 8 bar (FP 16/8)
  • Compressed air fan
  • Turbo mixer for foam application
  • Hydraulic multi-tool (scissors, shredder)
  • Power generator
  • Tool kit
  • Submersible pump
  • Floodlights
  • Dimensions: L x W x H: 7.70 x 2.30 x 3.03 m (with reel: 7.98 m)
  • Total weight: 10.5 t