- Body and interior fittings made possible by the modular construction of the Integro meet all technical and operational requirements of modern professional fire services
The Department of the Interior in Hamburg, which is also responsible for the Hamburg fire service, has now presented the third special-purpose vehicle based on a Mercedes-Benz bus to the public in the form of a specially equipped, 12-metre Mercedes-Benz Integro H raised-floor rural-service bus. Together with the two previously commissioned, large-capacity emergency ambulances (GRTW) based on the Mercedes-Benz Citaro regular-service bus, the new command vehicle (ELW3) enhances the flexibility of the Hamburg fire service even further. It will be primarily used for large-scale incidents such as major fires, technical emergencies, regional assignments and large public events. The Integro represents a highly visible and easily identified focal point for the senior personnel of units attending such scenes. The fire service also uses the Integro for more unusual assignments where tactical or spatial considerations dictate a response in several stages. The Integro H is painted in dayglow red and features a raised roof, a rear door and two large luggage compartments with a total volume of 6.6 cu. m., where the telecommunications and data processing equipment required for operations is accommodated.
Throughout Germany the Hamburg fire service is regarded as a pioneer in the formation of task forces trained to respond to chemical and biological disasters or terrorist attacks. As part of a research project the fire service contributed its specialist knowledge with respect to technical equipment and logistics, thus enabling trailblazing concepts to be developed. This mobile command centre based on the Integro H was created to ensure the optimal support and coordination of personnel on the ground. The interior is divided into three sections – the cockpit, working area and radio room. Each of these sections is equipped with the latest communication and working facilities. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning are separately controlled for the cockpit, working area and telecommunications room, using the standard air conditioning system of the Integro with modifications for operation when stationary. Additional convector heaters are installed for the working area.
It is not only the interior that has been planned and equipped down to the last detail, however. The stowage compartments of the Integro are used to accommodate the requisite technical systems, as well as a set of basic firefighting equipment housed in robust pull-out containers. The luggage compartments on the driver’s side contain a generator and isolating transformer, auxiliary battery, charger, fuses, air conditioning compressor, air compressor, PTO-powered generator, the central electrics and the vehicle batteries. The luggage compartment on the co-driver’s side has sliding containers for technical equipment such as fire extinguishers and emergency aid cases, as well as pre-installed connections for a digital relay system, telecommunications systems, internal/external power supply, a two-way radio system, PC technology, network switches, patchfield (CAN bus networking of onboard electronics and communication facilities) and an emergency power supply.
The Hamburg fire service also attaches great importance to an easy and rapid retrofitting capability for future digital radio technology immediately after its introduction. The two-way radio system is designed for the simultaneous operation of all conventional and new BOS radio systems. The roof of the Integro carries aerials for analogue and digital radio, the 900-MHz mobile phone network, Inmarsat, DECT telephony, DVB-T and DVB-Sat. Like the working and surround lighting, the roof-mounted alarm siren system is fitted with tree-branch deflectors. The rear end of the bus features a robust mounting with a ladder, working platform and a pneumatically operated, 12 m telescopic mast for the aerials and revolving warning light. There is an intercom system for use by anyone wishing to enter the vehicle or talk with the crew.
Flexibility and practicality were the requirements which the Hamburg fire service stipulated to the Mercedes-Benz Bus and Coach Unit of EvoBus GmbH and its centre of excellence for special-purpose bodies. In collaboration with the company responsible for equipment such as radio and signalling systems, Baumeister & Trabandt GmbH, the result was a bus-based mobile command centre which is destined to be a trailblazer for future vehicles of this type. The Integro provides the ideal and most economical conditions for providing different vehicle variants and lengths without conceptual modifications. It was developed on the modular principle, thereby ensuring the greatest possible flexibility and practicality when taking specific customer wishes into account. Not only the overall length of precisely 12.4 m including the rear mounting, but also the height, show that the Integro is anything but an off-the-shelf bus: compared to other vehicles, the roof height of the command vehicle has been increased by 25 cm to ensure that the crew are able to stand upright in any area of the interior – a standing height of 2100 mm is guaranteed throughout. Mature large-scale production technology and reliable powertrain units by Mercedes-Benz guarantee the fire service the necessary operational availability.
According to the fire service, the new Integro command vehicle is ideally suited to a large city such as Hamburg. In a competitive international environment between the major cities, an efficient and flexible firefighting service is also an important factor affecting business location. By virtue of its future-oriented development activities the Hamburg fire service therefore also makes a major contribution to the improved quality of northern Germany as an economic region, as well as the quality of life of its inhabitants. The fire service has around 2500 employees, and the voluntary fire service is fully integrated into operational activities with a further 2500 firefighters.
According to Klaus-Ummo Hirt, the Project Manager at the Hamburg fire service, the success of this project was in large measure due to close, creative and constructive cooperation between the two companies concerned, EvoBus and Baumeister & Trabandt, and the Hamburg fire service as the customer – from discussion of the bodyshell design right up to handover of the completed command vehicle.
There is a long tradition of Mercedes-Benz buses for the Hamburg fire service: immediately after the war the fire service ordered large-capacity, bus-based am-bulances to carry large numbers of patients to hospitals outside the Hamburg city area. Standard regular-service buses by Mercedes-Benz have been used as the ba-sic vehicles since 1970. Today the Hamburg fire service operates two large-capacity emergency ambulances (GRTW), which are always used when inhabitants need to be accommodated outside their homes while firefighting operations are in progress. These vehicles are also used as mobile treatment centres in the event of sudden mass epidemics. Since 2003 the city of Hamburg has used the Mercedes-Benz Citaro, the latest and most progressive generation of regular-service buses, for this purpose.