The Innovator – Pierce Manufacturing

John Schultz, VP and General Manager – Pumper Products, Pierce Manufacturing, delves into the transitioning acceptance and openness of the North American market to technology   

Managing Editor Rebecca Spayne of International Fire Buyer had the opportunity to reconnect with John Schultz at FDIC International this April in Indianapolis. Their annual meetings have become a cornerstone of understanding the evolving dynamics within the emergency services sector, particularly as the market responds to new technologies. This year’s conversation was especially pertinent as they delved into the ongoing transition towards electric vehicles, with a particular focus on Pierce Manufacturing’s Volterra electric pumper, which was introduced several years ago and has since been a topic of keen interest. 

Catching up with John and the rest of the Pierce and Oshkosh Airport Products team provides invaluable insights into the practical implications of these technological advancements. The team’s dedication to innovation is evident in their thorough approach to integrating such technologies across their product lines. This interview highlights how legislation, market receptivity, and technological integration intersect to shape the future of emergency response vehicles. John’s perspective offers a deep dive into the challenges and rewards of pioneering electric vehicles within an industry that is traditionally reliant on conventional fuel sources. 

Can you introduce yourself? 

I started my journey with Pierce Manufacturing as an intern in 2003, and I am now the Vice President and General Manager of Pumper Products. Over the years, I’ve leveraged my education and expertise to spearhead innovative product development projects. I’ve been deeply involved in the design and production of several key products like the Pierce Ultimate Configuration (PUC™), Pierce Responder Pumper, and Husky™ 3 & 12 foam systems. My career at Pierce has also seen me take on roles such as Platform Director of Chassis Products in 2016, and Pumper & Custom Chassis Products more recently. In my current role, I manage all aspects of pumper, fire suppression, and electrical technologies, encompassing strategic product planning, production, engineering, product management, and lifecycle management. My primary goal in all these endeavors is to exceed customer performance requirements, ensuring that our products not only meet but surpass expectations. 

Can you tell us about the new entrance into the warning light space and your unique approach? 

The interesting part is our partnerships, where we’ve embedded advanced control into our multiplex system, changing how warning lights work. Traditionally, changing warning light configurations such as colours and flash patterns required manual reprogramming and sometimes hardware changes, which can be very time-consuming and inflexible. 

With our latest initiative, we’ve embedded advanced control capabilities directly into our proprietary multiplex system. This system allows us to offer unprecedented customization directly from the vehicle’s onboard screen. Now, operators can easily modify and test different settings in real-time without the need for external programming tools or significant downtime. This flexibility is crucial for emergency services, where adaptability can significantly impact response effectiveness. 

Moreover, this integration with our control systems isn’t just about improving how the warning lights work; it’s about enhancing the overall usability and functionality of the vehicle. By centralizing control and allowing for easy updates, we’re making our emergency vehicles smarter, more responsive, and ultimately safer on the road. 

And is this advanced integration exclusive to one type of vehicle? 

The advanced integration we’ve implemented is exclusive to the Pierce command zone, our proprietary multiplexing system, which is a standard feature across our entire portfolio of vehicles. This system is pivotal because it allows us to provide over-the-air software updates, which continually enhance both the user experience and the vehicle’s functional capabilities—similar to how smartphone updates work. 

Additionally, our commitment extends beyond just advanced lighting systems. For instance, with the advent of electric vehicles like our Volterra model, we’re pushing the boundaries on how electrification can be integrated into emergency service vehicles. We are currently collaborating with select customers in various North American regions to rigorously test the Volterra under diverse operational conditions. This is part of our broader strategy to ensure that the transition from diesel to electric power is as smooth and seamless as possible for our end-users. We’re not just changing the power source; we’re enhancing the entire vehicle ecosystem to ensure reliability, ease of use, and adaptability in real-world emergency situations. 

To read the full article, see our last issue here.

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Media Contact
Rebecca Spayne Managing Editor, International Fire Buyer
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 920

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