By Alan M. Petrillo
Oregon became the first state in the country in 1989 to create a statewide regional hazmat emergency response system.
Since that time, it has provided the funding for the apparatus used by 13 hazmat teams across the state. The teams consist of career and volunteer firefighters, with some law enforcement and public works employees.
As part of its vehicle replacement cycle, the State Fire Marshal’s Office awarded a 10-year contract to Pierce Manufacturing Inc. to build 10 heavy rescue hazmat vehicles-two vehicles every two years. The first two hazmat rigs were delivered in December 2015 to Hermiston Fire and Emergency Services and in January 2016 to the Eugene-Springfield Fire Department.
|1 The Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal has put in service two Pierce Manufacturing heavy rescue hazmat trucks with emergency response teams in the state, the first pair of 10 units to be built and deployed. (Photos courtesy of Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal.)|
The next two hazmat heavy rescues will go to the Astoria Fire Department and the Medford Fire Department. Future deliveries are yet to be determined as to location but will be chosen from the Roseburg Fire Department, the Gresham/Multnomah County Fire Department, Klamath County Fire District No. 1, Linn/Benton (Albany Fire Department, Corvallis Fire Department, and Lebanon Fire District), the Portland Fire and Rescue Bureau, Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, the Salem Fire Department, Ontario Fire and Rescue, and the Coos Bay Fire Department.
The 10-Truck Order
Chad Hawkins, hazmat rail coordinator for the State Fire Marshal’s Office, says all 10 vehicles are standardized in terms of design, what they carry, and location of equipment. “If we have mutual-aid incidents,” he points out, “we want the vehicles to be fully interoperable.”
The heavy rescue hazmat rig is built on a Pierce Enforcer™ chassis with a 70-inch walk-through cab and a 24-inch raised roof on a 23-foot-long, 96-inch-wide, heavy-duty aluminum body. The cab seats six firefighters and has a 144-inch walk-in storage area behind it, accessed by an officer-side door with an automatic pneumatic fold-down step. The walk-in area features a command desk with two forward-facing seats as well as a 79-inch slide-out module on the driver’s side of the vehicle.
|2 The hazmat trucks are built on Enforcer chassis, with a 70-inch walk-through cab, a 24-inch raised roof, and a 144-inch walk-in storage area at the back of the cab. The units are powered by 450-horsepower Cummins ISL 9 engines and Allison EVS 3000 automatic transmissions.|
A 450-horsepower (hp) Cummins ISL 9 engine and Allison EVS 3000 automatic transmission power the vehicle, which carries a 12-kW Onan Quiet Diesel generator mounted on top of the body; a Will-Burt Night Scan light tower; Whelen warning lights; Whelen Pioneer scene lighting; recessed electric awnings; four roof coffin compartments; and adjustable shelves, slide-out-trays, tool boards, tilt trays, and custom equipment racks.
Rex Hughes, owner of Hughes Fire Equipment who sold the vehicles to Oregon, says there are only small modifications to shelving and trays between the first two delivered rigs and the next two currently being built. “There also are some crew cab compartment changes to cabinets,” he adds, “but modifications have been minimal.”
Hughes notes that the hazmat teams for the State Fire Marshal’s Office had previously been running “International tractors with 35-foot Wells Cargo fifth-wheel trailers, which can be difficult to haul. Their lighting and generator capacity was minimal, and there was no air conditioning in the units. These are trailers that were purchased in the late 1980s or early 1990s.”
|3 The walk-in area behind the crew cab can be accessed from the crew cab or from a curb-side door with an automatic pneumatic fold-down step. The opposite side of the walk-in command area features a slide-out to provide more interior space. The exterior sides of the vehicle have electric awnings installed.|
Hughes says that his company installed a Columbia weather system, satellite dish communications, flat screen monitors, a refrigerator, a coffeemaker, and a microwave in each of the new vehicles. He notes that the purchase came through a General Services Administration order.
Shane Braun, rescue products manager at Pierce Manufacturing, says Hughes “was instrumental in getting this order together and presenting a product that worked for all the agencies involved.” Braun points out that aft of the walk-in command area, the vehicle is a nonwalk-in that carries full-depth compartments for storage of hazmat equipment. “One of the things we did was that the vehicle’s air conditioning can run off of its roof-mounted 12-kW Onan Quiet Diesel generator or off of shore power.”
Braun notes that the fender panels on the rig carry spare self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) bottles and that the vehicle’s compartments are as large as Pierce could make them, “because hazmat gear is bulky. There are lots of hazmat suits, large equipment, and testing gear on board.”
|4 The new hazmat trucks will replace a fleet of 10 International tractors and 35-foot Wells Cargo fifth-wheel trailers.|
Hawkins points out that the Fire Marshal’s Office spec’d the vehicles on single axles because it wanted the maneuverability. “We finished up with a 250-inch wheelbase and also added a Jacob’s compression brake. All of our equipment in the compartments is nonsparking and is mounted on tool boards and drop-down and slide-out trays.”
He notes that Level A, B, and C hazmat suits are carried in the walk-around compartments. “A Level C suit has an external respirator and is a disposable suit,” Hawkins says. “Level A and B suits are more bulky, have an SCBA underneath, and are reusable suits.” Such suits are used to allow firefighters to enter hazardous areas and mitigate situations like stopping leaks on railroad chlorine cars, he says.
“We don’t do removal and disposal,” Hawkins says. “Our job is to isolate, mitigate the leak, and notify the responsible party to come in and eliminate any health or life hazards. However, we do carry containment barrels on our rigs for mitigation of a situation. Each vehicle has a 90-gallon, 65-gallon, and 35-gallon containment barrel.”
|5 The trucks carry 12-kW Onan Quiet Diesel generators, Will-Burt Nigh Scan light towers, Whelen warning and scene lights, weather stations, and Hughes mobile satellite systems.|
Hawkins says the Oregon hazmat teams also use an Entry Link system, which is a tripod camera, antenna, and mast, that allows an entry team to transmit visual data back to an incident commander. In addition, the vehicle’s weather station is built into the vehicle’s roof and transmits data such as wind velocity, humidity, and barometric pressure to an eight-inch LED monitor in the command area-important information when dealing with a hazmat incident.
The entire truck features 10 belted seats, and above each position is a jack port for a headset so all team members can communicate in the vehicle. The rig also has a Hughes mobile satellite system mounted on the roof that provides Internet access and a WiFi hotspot.
Hawkins notes that the goals the Office of State Fire Marshal set when spec’ing the hazmat vehicles were “driver safety, apparatus quality, the ability to transport multiple crew members, the ability to review resources en route, and the ability to haul or tow an ancillary decontamination trailer. Pierce was able to deliver on all those elements,” he says. “The hazmat trucks have been out on calls, and we’ve found the turning radius is great, and the overall safety is so much better than driving a semi-tractor code 3 down the road. The Pierce hazmat units have performed very well.”
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.
Pierce Hazmat Heavy Rescue Truck
- Enforcer™ chassis with 70-inch walk-through cab and 24-inch raised roof
- 23-foot-long 96-inch-wide heavy duty aluminum body
- Six-person cab seating with cab-to-body walk-through and 144-inch walk-in storage area
- Officer-side interior access door with auto pneumatic fold-down step
- Driver-side 79-inch slide-out module
- Command desk with two forward-facing command seats
- 250-inch wheelbase
- 11-foot, 10-inch overall height
- 36-foot, 5.87-inch overall length
- 42,000-pound gross vehicle weight rating
- 18,000-pound Dana front axle
- 24,000-pound Meritor RS24-160 rear axle
- Cummins ISL 9 450-hp engine
- Allison EVS 3000 automatic transmission
- Whelen upper and lower warning lights
- Whelen Pioneer PFP1 scene lights
- Will-Burt light tower
- 12-kW Onan Quiet Diesel generator mounted on top of body
- Adjustable shelves, slide-out trays, tool boards, tilt trays, and custom equipment racks
- Four roof hatch compartments
- Recessed electric awning
- Fender panel SCBA bottle storage
- Zico RL-2-6 Quik-Ladder roof access ladder
Office of State Fire Marshal, Salem, Oregon