Apparatus, Wildland Urban Interface

Wildland Apparatus Run Gamut from Wildfire Units to Urban Interface Rigs

Issue 7 and Volume 18.

Alan M. Petrillo

Developments in wildland urban interface (WUI) apparatus have taken a page from businesses that use customer satisfaction surveys and feedback, incorporating changes and modifications into rigs that firefighters and fire departments see as necessary to make their jobs easier and safer on the front lines of wildland fires.

Structure and Wildland Duties

Chad Trinkner, marketing manager of pumpers, fire suppression and aerial products for Pierce Manufacturing Inc., says that Pierce has seen an emphasis on maneuverable wildland units that can double as urban interface vehicles to fight structure fires or protect exposures when necessary. “Pierce makes Type I, II, and III urban interface and wildland vehicles on custom or commercial chassis,” Trinkner says, “often customizing a vehicle to a very specific body design as we do for the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM).”

Trinkner notes that the BLM vehicle, called a Model 62, is a spinoff of the United States Forest Service’s (USFS) Model 34 Type III wildland apparatus with its own body design that can hold a spare tire, a different pump capacity, and space “so the vehicle is prepped for everything, and the crew will be able to live out of the apparatus.”

A Type III wildland apparatus typically carries 500 gallons of water, a pump with a minimum capacity of 150 gallons per minute (gpm), and 1,000 feet of 1½-inch and 500 feet of one-inch hose. “We’ve built Type III wildland vehicles with water tanks of up to 600 gallons and Type IV rigs with 750 gallons of water,” Trinkner notes. Type IV apparatus have less hose and pump capacity requirements than Type IIIs.

Doug Kelley, wildland product manager for KME, says recent developments in pumps and in remote turrets have improved the performance of wildland vehicles. “The big thing that KME focuses on is pump-and-roll capability, where we have developed pumping systems with dual impellers and single manifolds that allow for low- and high-pressure systems,” Kelley says. “We can get 100 gpm at 150 pounds per square inch (psi) at engine idle or, with a four-wheel-drive vehicle, can crawl along in low range and expend water and class A foam on a fire.”

national wildfire coordinating group engine typing

KME delivers that pump-and-roll capability chiefly through its Ridgerunner apparatus, designed as a WUI vehicle that can handle both structure and wildland fires. Ridgerunner is available on an International 7400 chassis and carries a Hale 1,500-gpm pump that provides 100 gpm at 150 psi for pump-and-roll situations, an 800-gallon Poly tank, a 20-gallon foam cell, and a FoamPro 2001 direct-injection foam system.

Scott Oyen, vice president of sales for Rosenbauer, says that urban interface pumpers meeting all the criteria as Type I units also can make effective wildland apparatus. “Those that meet the Type I, II, and III classifications might be able to get Insurance Services Organization (ISO) rating points for the fire department,” he points out. “That’s where our Timberwolf fits in, built on an International 4400 four-door 4×4 chassis with a 500-gpm Darley JSP fire pump, 500 gallons of water, extended front bumper with crosslay, remote bumper turret, high-pressure booster reels in the cab steps, and rescue tool storage.

Pierce Manufacturing built this Type III wildland vehicle for the Alameda County Fire Department on an International Navistar chassis with a 500-gpm Darley pump and a 500-gallon water tank.
(1) Pierce Manufacturing built this Type III wildland vehicle for
the Alameda County (CA) Fire Department on an International
Navistar chassis with a 500-gpm Darley pump and a 500-gallon
water tank.
(Photo courtesy of Pierce Manufacturing.)
 

Rosenbauer also makes a Model 34 CAL FIRE (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) type pumper with a midship two-stage 500-gpm Darley JPM pump or Waterous CMP3 two-stage 500-gpm pump with a 500-gallon water tank and a 30-gallon foam cell.

“They are built for extreme off-road use with a cone spring mount system,” Doug Feldman, Rosenbauer’s western regional sales manager, says. “They are built on a very flexible body where we are able to put the opposing front and rear tires off the ground 18 inches and still open the compartment doors. That simulates the ability of CAL FIRE to take these vehicles diagonally through ravines.”

Oyen points out that most of the wildland and urban interface vehicles Rosenbauer builds are on Navistar 7400 or Freightliner M2 chassis for the larger types and on Ford F-550 for smaller Type V and VI vehicles. “With the F-550s, we’ve put Super Single tires on them, where there are no dual wheels in back, so they sit up very high but give a gross vehicle weight rating equal to a F-550 dualie because of their good-sized footprint.”

Feldman says that Rosenbauer is building a Type I urban interface vehicle for the Peoria (AZ) Fire Department on a Freightliner chassis that looks more like a Type III. “It has a 1,250-gpm pump; a compressed air foam system (CAFS) unit; and a full ladder complement of a three-section 24-foot ladder, a 12-foot roof ladder, and a 10-foot attic ladder,” he says. “The market is driving departments more toward wildland urban interface units like the Timberwolf design.”

Grady North, product manager for pumpers, tankers, wildland and ARFF for E-ONE, says his company’s eMAX urban interface vehicle incorporates many of the features that departments are seeking to protect against both wildland and structure fires. “We have very aggressive angles of approach and departure at 20 degrees and full discharge pressure no matter what the vehicle is doing-stopping, moving, backing up, or pumping and rolling,” North says.

California Emergency Management Agency strike team firefighters are shown fighting a wildfire using a Rosenbauer-supplied Type III wildland apparatus.
(2) California Emergency Management Agency (formerly Office of
Emergency Services) strike team firefighters are shown fighting a
wildfire using a Rosenbauer-supplied Type III wildland
apparatus.
(Photo courtesy of Rosenbauer.)
 

North notes the eMAX UI vehicle has a frame rail increased to 12 inches that allows better clearance of the galvanized frame, which is coated with epoxy primer, automotive finish coat, and three layers of corrosion protection. “This is more of a Type I vehicle where we maximize compartment space in an eMAX style body for a compact pump house and pump configuration with a 1,500-gpm rating,” he says. “For pump and roll, we use Harrison integrated hydraulic technology that operates independent of the vehicle chassis, allowing adjustment of the system on a Vista display inside the cab, which is accessible by the driver and officer.”

E-ONE uses an Akron Brass Forestry 3462 monitor on the bumper, remotely controlled from the cab, with a nozzle that can be configured for multiple flows from 30 to 125 gpm.

Michael Doran, senior vice president for Ferrara Fire Apparatus, says his company builds WUI apparatus on an Inferno chassis that allows for a 20-degree angle of approach and departure for Type I through III vehicles. “The Type I is more of a structural interface vehicle with wildland applications, the Type II is dedicated to both on- and off-road use, and the Type III is the wildland off-road apparatus,” he says. “The type that’s chosen depends on the department and the specific uses they have for the apparatus.”

As an example, Doran notes that Ferrara’s Type III carries either a Hale or Waterous pump for pump and roll, a Hale or Waterous midship pump, a Class A foam injection system, and a 500-gallon water tank.

Ferrara Fire Apparatus built this Type 1 Wildland Urban Interface apparatus for San Diego County, California
(3) Ferrara Fire Apparatus built this Type 1 Wildland Urban
Interface apparatus for San Diego County, California. The rig is
staffed by the San Diego (CA) Rural Fire Protection District with
cooperative fire protection provided by CAL FIRE.
(Photo courtesy of Ferrara Fire Apparatus.)
 

Fast Moving Segment

Dan White, Class series manager for Spartan ERV, notes that the wildland apparatus market has been one of the fastest moving areas for fire vehicles in the past eight to 10 months. “Right now we’re selling on the opposite ends of the scale from the basic units at one end to the bigger trucks with more water and capabilities on the other,” he says.

Although many of the smaller units, Type VI rigs for example, get built on Ford F-550 chassis and can carry 300 gallons of water, the larger vehicles are put on International 7400 and Freightliner M2 chassis that carry up to 800 gallons of water, White points out. “Some departments are putting rescue tools on their wildland urban interface apparatus,” he says. “But, the real move is upgrading brush trucks to true urban interface apparatus.”

White says that’s it is rare for Spartan ERV to sell smaller gasoline-driven pumps on a wildland vehicle any more. “Most departments are moving toward diesel engines in the mid-30-horsepower range,” he says. “Another popular option is the remotely controlled bumper turret to allow fighting the fire from inside the cab. More than half of the wildland units we build today have a bumper turret of some kind on them.”

Spartan ERV makes the MPT and MPR line of wildland apparatus, Type VI vehicles, while its MPX and MPX-RM fall into the Type I through III range.

Smeal Fire Apparatus built a Rage wildland unit with a Hale 500-gpm pump, a 500-gallon water tank, and a 20-gallon Class A foam tank for the Lefthand Fire Protection District.
(4) Smeal Fire Apparatus built a Rage wildland unit with a Hale
500-gpm pump, a 500-gallon water tank, and a 20-gallon Class A
foam tank for the Lefthand (CO) Fire Protection District.
(Photo courtesy of Smeal Fire Apparatus.)
 

Extinguishing Agents

Joel Konecky, regional sales director for Smeal Fire Apparatus, says his company introduced the Rage wildland unit last year, carrying 500- or 750-gpm Hale pumps, 500 gallons of water, and Class A foam cells of 20 gallons. “The Rage seats five firefighters and has a good capacity for either wildland or urban interface fire activities,” Konecky says. “As people continue to build houses in wildland and forested areas, more dollars will have to be spent to protect them, and we will see more of this type of wildland urban interface vehicle built to deal with those potential fires.”

Konecky notes that Smeal has built a number of rigs that incorporate CAFS on them, but they are in the minority of vehicles manufactured. “It varies so much depending on the area of the country and the department,” he says. “With budgets down, departments are trying to do as much as they can with less equipment. But, the wildland market is still a function of budgeting-when fires are in the news, the public is more aware of needing protection, which helps fire departments when they need to request new apparatus.”

Trinkner points out there’s also been a movement toward carrying quad agents on Type III urban interface vehicles-halotron, dry chemical, water, and foam. Oshkosh builds such units on its Stinger model, he notes.

“Pierce built two quad-agent vehicles on International 7400 chassis for the Dallas-Fort Worth (TX) Fire Department,” Trinkner says. “The vehicles carry 500 pounds of dry chem and halotron as well as water and foam. And, we’re starting assembly on a similar unit for the Olathe (KS) Fire Department on a Freightliner M2 four-door chassis.”

This wildland Type VI unit was built by RocketFire for the Danforth Township Fire Protection District.
(5) This wildland Type VI unit was built by RocketFire for the
Danforth Township (IL) Fire Protection District.
(Photo courtesy of RocketFire.)
 

Skid Use

Steve Bloomstrand, vice president of operations for RocketFire, says his company has seen a strong interest for wildland apparatus based on the smaller flatbed type chassis. “Many departments are looking for lightweight flatbed vehicles, especially those made with copolymer plastics that are similar in weight to aluminum, where they can put in a skid unit that can be transferred to another vehicle if necessary,” he says.

Skid units are very popular on Ford F-350 to F-550 chassis, Bloomstrand maintains, with either 18- or 24-horsepower (hp) gasoline engines powering the pumps or diesel engines for vehicles driven by diesel engines. Also, front bumper monitors have become nearly a must-have component for wildland vehicles, he adds, remotely controlled from the cab. “We’re seeing the Task Force Tips (TFT) Tornado, the Elkhart Brass Sidewinder, and the Akron Brass Forestry monitor being used most often,” he says.

Intelagard makes a SwiftCAF all terrain vehicle for wildland use, shown here laying down a foam blanket.
(6) Intelagard makes a SwiftCAF all terrain vehicle (ATV) for
wildland use, shown here laying down a foam blanket.
(Photo courtesy of Intelagard.)
 

Lighter Weight

At Fouts Brothers, sales manager Will Pilcher says his company has heard from fire departments that they want lighter wildland and brush vehicles. “Many of them are going toward smaller tanks and lots of foam, whether it’s around-the-pump or injection,” he says. “A six-gallon foam cell paired with a 225-gallon polyethylene tank can put out as much as 500 gallons of mixed foam and water.”

Pilcher says he sells a lot of Akron’s Forestry monitors on his wildland rigs but adds that Elkhart’s Sidewinder and the TFT Tornado are close behind.

Wayne Kindred, sales manager of the fire truck division for West-Mark, says his company’s Patriot Type III wildland vehicle is built on an International Navistar 7400 chassis with a 250-gpm PTO-driven pump, a 500- to 600-gallon water tank, and a 16- to 20-gallon foam tank. “Some of the state agencies are looking for Type IIIs to carry more water,” Kindred notes, “especially the Nevada Department of Forestry, which is considering going with 700-gallon water tanks on their Type III vehicles.”

Kimtek Corp. makes the FireLite, a utility terrain vehicle adapted for wildland use, which also doubles as a wildland rescue vehicle since it can carry a litter or Stokes basket in its skid unit area.
(7) Kimtek Corp. makes the FireLite, a utility terrain vehicle (UTV)
adapted for wildland use, which also doubles as a wildland rescue
vehicle since it can carry a litter or Stokes basket in its skid unit area.
(Photo courtesy of Kimtek Corp.)
 

UTVs/ATVs

Utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) and all terrain vehicles (ATVs) also have been making their mark on the wildland and brush fire scene. Dennis Smagac, salesperson for Intelagard, thinks UTVs and ATVs are the future for fire suppression in rural and wildland areas. “They are able to knock down a wildfire and also can fan a spray nozzle across a structure to paint it with foam to prevent ignition from a wildland fire,” he says.

Intelagard makes the SwiftRunner UTV, which uses two air cylinders that allow a 50- or 100-gallon foam tank to be deployed in a one-to-one standard water configuration or 30-to-one CAF expansion. The UTV carries a 35-gpm pump and 100 feet of one-inch booster hose.

Kimball Johnson, president of Kimtek Corp., makes ATVs and UTVs for the wildland fire service. “An ATV is where you ride up straddling the vehicle, where a UTV is a side-by-side-seated unit that is the true fire unit,” Johnson says.

Kimtek makes skid units that drop onto the back of most larger UTVs, especially those made by Polaris, Kubota, Deer Gator, Kawasaki, Bobcat, DuHolland, Yamaha, and Honda. “Our best seller is the Firelite Transport FDH-203 that has a 55- or 70-gallon water tank with a 5.5-hp Darley pump,” Johnson says. “As for our skid units that are used on Type VI apparatus, we have more than 2,000 units in service in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere.”

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.