Fire department chiefs, officers, and wildland fire managers all agree that wildland fires have been increasing in intensity, size, and frequency over the past few years—a development that has put greater emphasis on the apparatus and equipment, as well as the tactics, used in battling wildfires. The United States Forest Service estimates that by 2030, the country will have 53 million acres in the wildland urban interface (WUI) exposed to wildfires.
At the recent annual Wildland Urban Interface conference, sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) at the Peppermill Resort in Reno, Nevada, an assortment of wildland apparatus was displayed for firefighters to handle, climb on, and learn detailed descriptions of.
HME Inc. displayed a CAL Fire Model 34D wildland Type 3 pumper for the Riverside City (CA) Fire Department that carries a 750-gallon-per-minute (gpm) pump, a 500-gallon water tank, a 30-gallon foam tank and a FoamPro 1600 foam system. In addition, HME showed a Type 6 pumper built on a Ford F-550 Super Duty chassis with a Water Axe BB4 50-gpm pump powered by an 18-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine, a 300-gallon water tank, a 20-gallon foam tank, and a Scotty Foam system. Alongside the Type 6 was HME’s HXR Rapid Attack Truck (RAT) that carries a Hale 1,500-gpm pump, a 500-gallon water tank, a 30-gallon foam tank, a Fire Research Corp. (FRC) foam system, and an 8-kW hydraulic generator.
Bob Becker, of HME, notes that with the increase in frequency of wildland fires, especially in the western United States, HME has seen a wide mix of Type 1, 3, and 6 wildland pumpers coming off the production line. “Departments are asking for all types of wildland apparatus, as well as the equipment to go on them,” Becker points out.
Glen Baley of Boise Mobile Equipment (BME) says many of the western states’ municipal fire departments are purchasing dedicated wildland fire units, from Type 3 through Type 6 models. BME showed a Type 3 wildland pumper it built for the Parma Rural (ID) Fire Department on a 175-inch wheelbase with a rear-mount 250-gpm pump, an 800-gallon water tank, a 20-gallon foam tank, and a FoamPro 1600 foam system. The Type 3 carries 800 feet of 2½-inch hose, 400 feet of 1½-inch hose, ten 100-foot bundles of 1½-inch hose, two booster reels holding 100 feet of ¾-inch hose each, and an Elkhart Brass Co. Sidewinder bumper monitor.
Boise Mobile Equipment also displayed a Type 6 First Attack Wildland pumper that has a removable Extendobed platform that can be configured for either fire suppression or rescue equipment. The fire suppression platform has a rear-mount pump powered by a Kubota diesel engine, a 300-gallon water tank, a 12-gallon foam tank, and two booster reels that can accommodate from one- to 2½-inch hose. Tim Ryan, of Extendobed, says the reels can hold up to 150 feet of 1½-inch hose.
MTECH Inc.’s president Jason Black says his company introduced the 70-EMS-L firefighting emergency medical service (EMS) skid unit with integrated storage that is used on utility terrain vehicle (UTV) and all terrain vehicle (ATV) platforms. The unit carries either a 2.2-hp pump generating 73 gpm at 61 pounds per square inch (psi) or a 5-hp pump putting out 130 gpm at 125 psi, along with a 70-gallon water tank, a manual Hannay hose reel, an integrated rescue basket litter, an optional around-the-pump foam system and 2½-gallon foam cell, and an optional drafting kit. Black notes that MTECH has seen increased interest from fire departments in using UTVs and ATVs to reach areas inaccessible to larger fire apparatus when fighting brush and wildland fires.
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist 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.