Apparatus, Petrillo, Pierce, Special Delivery, Wildland Urban Interface

Special Delivery: Wildland Urban Interface Type III Unit Handles Wildland and Structure Fire Calls

Issue 7 and Volume 18.

Alan M. Petrillo

The Taos (NM) Fire Department’s chief and firefighters had been considering purchasing a wildland urban interface (WUI) Type III apparatus for several years-something that could function not only as a wildland engine but also as a structural pumper if needed once it got out in the boondocks, well away from a water source.

The Taos Fire Department chose Pierce Manufacturing to build this Type III WUI vehicle that can do double duty as a wildland fire apparatus and a structural firefighting rig
(1) The Taos (NM) Fire Department chose Pierce Manufacturing
to build this Type III WUI vehicle that can do double duty as a
wildland fire apparatus and a structural firefighting rig. [Photos
courtesy of the Taos (NM) Fire Department.]  

Chief Jim Fambro says his department’s members had seen a number of Pierce Manufacturing’s Hawk Type III WUI units in neighboring areas and liked not only the style but also the stability of the vehicles. “We had talked for years about getting a Type III WUI to use in protecting our outlying areas against large brush fires but also to use as a quick-attack vehicle for structure fires where it would be miles away from assistance and on its own,” Fambro says. “We’ve been in a drought situation since 1996, so the wildfires around here have been pretty significant.”

Extinguishing Capabilities

The Taos (NM) Fire Department covers the city of Taos and the central part of Taos County for fire and rescue responses. The district, which staffs four stations, has fire hydrants in only 40 percent of its response area.

The WUI unit for the Taos (NM) Fire Department features a compact pump panel.
(2) The WUI unit for the Taos (NM) Fire
Department features a compact pump panel.  

Fambro notes that the department also wanted a compressed air foam system (CAFS) on the new vehicle. “Putting a 500-gallon water tank on the vehicle and using CAFS means we can stretch out those 500 gallons as far as possible,” he says. “We go to structure fires 10 to 15 miles outside of town, and those structure fires can easily turn into wildland fires very quickly.”

Taos firefighters decided on a Pierce Hawk Type III WUI unit with a Darley dual-control 1,000-gpm PTO (power takeoff) pump, a 500-gallon Poly water tank, a III0-gallon Class A foam cell powered by a FoamPro 1600 foam system, and a Hercules 140-cubic-feet-per-minute (cfm) hydraulic-drive CAFS. “We put an Elkhart Brass Sidewinder 500-gpm monitor on the front bumper and added a Warn 15,000-pound fixed front winch up there,” Fambro points out. “The dual foam capability on the Pierce Type III gives us a lot of freedom to approach fires in different ways.”

The vehicle carries a Hercules CAFS, shown in the housing above the pump panel, that is hydraulically driven and generates 140 cubic feet per minute.
(3) The vehicle carries a Hercules CAFS, shown in the housing
above the pump panel, that is hydraulically driven and generates
140 cubic feet per minute.  

The Rig

Mike Sweitzer, senior sales manager at Pierce’s Florida campus, says the Taos Type III is built on an International 7400 chassis and cab. “Most of the Type III units we build are on Freightliner M2-106 chassis,” he says, “but the chassis and cab on a vehicle is the customer’s preference, typically because of either past experience or serviceability concerns.”

Sweitzer notes that the fixed 15,000-pound Warn winch on the front of the vehicle “is very unusual for a wildland apparatus. It’s the only winch I’ve ever put on a wildland vehicle.” Likewise, he notes, putting CAFS on a Type III wildland unit also is out of the ordinary. “It’s slightly unusual for a Type III,” Sweitzer says. “Less than five percent of the wildland Type III units we build have CAFS on them.”

Jose Jaramillo, sales rep for Siddons Martin Emergency Group in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who sold the vehicle to Taos, concurs with Sweitzer. “Of the four Type III trucks I’ve sold, this is the only one with CAFS on it, which is a unique thing,” he says.

Jaramillo notes that most Type III rigs don’t carry preconnected crosslays, instead using the space for deadlays of 1¾-inch hose. “The Taos vehicle allows for two 200-foot 1¾-inch deadlays,” he notes, “where the biggest issue is saving the plumbing space you would use for preconnections. The firefighters grab the deadlay and connect it to a discharge on the pump panel.”

(4) The CAFS control panel, located near the center of the pump
panel, has color coded markers to easily identify discharge ports.  

Fambro points out that the new WUI unit “is a very stable truck that allows us to get through some very rough areas.” He notes he especially likes the pump-and-roll capability and the ability to change water flow at the flip of a switch. “But, this is our initial attack vehicle for outlying areas for both wildland and structure fire calls,” he adds. “It carries all the equipment it needs to be the first attack on a structure fire and has already served as a good mutual-aid engine to surrounding districts.”

The chief says the WUI unit was instrumental in stopping a wildfire in its tracks near a residential area outside of Taos. “We had a wildfire going through overgrown grass, pinion pines, and juniper trees,” he says. “Our firefighters brought the Type III in there and found out what a great knockdown ability it has using CAFS.”

Fambro says the department “is sold on the benefits of using CAFS, and he has had all department members trained with Pierce personnel at a two-day in-station session, as well as in other training with the Flagstaff (AZ) Fire Department. “CAFS cuts down on rekindles and conserves water,” Fambro points out, “and the majority of our fires are where there is no water supply.”

An Elkhart Brass 500-gpm remote-controlled Sidewinder monitor, capable of flowing water or foam, is mounted on the right front of the Type III WUI vehicle.
(5) An Elkhart Brass 500-gpm remote-controlled Sidewinder
monitor, capable of flowing water or foam, is mounted on the right
front of the Type III WUI vehicle.  

The next project for Taos Fire Department, Fambro says, is a new pumper-tanker. “We’re looking at a vehicle with a 1,500-gpm pump, 2,500 gallons of water, and a top-mount pump so the operator can easily see both sides of the apparatus,” he says. “Most of our pumpers are top-mounts to allow the best firefighter safety and let the operator have eyes on the scene.”

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based freelance writer and is a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.


Pierce Manufacturing Inc. Type III Wildland Urban Interface Unit

• International WorkStar 7400 SFA four-door 4×4 cab and chassis
• 117-inch overall length
• 185-inch wheelbase
• Gross vehicle weight rating of 37,000 pounds
• 14,000-pound front axle
• 23,000-pound rear axle
• 330-hp MaxxForce 9 diesel engine
• Allison 3000 EVS automatic transmission
• Darley 1.5AGE-26BS dual-control 1,000-gpm PTO pump
• 500-gallon wildland Poly tank
• 30-gallon foam cell
• FoamPro 1600 single-agent system
• Hydraulic-drive Hercules 140-cfm CAFS
• All Akron Brass Co. valves
• Elkhart Brass Sidewinder front bumper monitor
• Three 2½-inch outlets; two left, one right side
• One 1½-inch rear outlet
• 200 feet 1¾-inch deadlay
• 150 feet of one-inch booster line on electric reel
• Warn 15,000-pound fixed front winch
• Hawk tow eyes under tailboard
• 20-foot Duo-Safety ladder in enclosed hosebed mounting
• Six- and eight-foot Nupla fiberglass I-beam pike poles
• Eight Truck-Lite Model 60 perimeter scene lights
• Three Whelen 12-volt Pioneer PFP1 LED lights
• Whelen LIN3 Super LED warning lights
• Code 3 siren

Price without equipment: $345,185


Taos (NM) Fire Department

Strength: Eight paid and 22 volunteer firefighters; four stations.

Service area: Provides fire suppression and rescue services to 110-square-mile response area with population of 17,000 that swells to 25,000 during peak tourist times in midsummer and ski season.

Other apparatus: 2008 Pierce Quantum, 750-gpm pump, 1,250-gallon water tank, Class A foam, CAFS; 2003 Pierce Quantum, 750-gpm pump, 1,500-gallon water tank, Class A foam, CAFS; 2008 Pierce Quantum 750-gpm pump, 1,250-gallon water tank, Class A foam; 1993 Pierce Saber, 750-gpm pump, 1,250-gallon water tank; 2003 Ford F-550 4×4 Type 6, 350-gpm pump, 500-gallon water tank; 1993 Dodge 4×4 Type 6, 300-gpm pump, 300-gallon water tank; 1993 Oshkosh Crash-Rescue vehicle; 2004 Pierce Enforcer 75-foot aerial ladder quint, 1,500-gpm pump, 400-gallon water tank; three Pierce Arrow tankers (1,000-gpm/2,500-gallon tank, 1,000-gpm/2,000-gallon tank, and 500-gpm/1,800-gallon tank); 1989 Pierce Saber engine-based heavy rescue; Dodge 1500 4×4 command and EMS response vehicle; 2005 GMC 450 mobile command post.