By Alan M. Petrillo
Manufacturers continue to evolve their aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) vehicles, with more mobile, more powerful, and more ergonomic rigs.
And, some airport fire departments are having makers build structural firefighting equipment and functions into their ARFF rigs in the interest of making them become more multirole vehicles.
|1 E-ONE built this 6×6 ARFF truck for Fort Benning (GA) Crash-Fire-Rescue, including a structural firefighting pump panel, suction plumbing, discharges, and preconnected hoselines. (Photo courtesy of E-ONE.)|
Equipped for Structures
R.J. Jones, sales and product manager of U.S. government and airport products for E-ONE, says that very often ARFF vehicles “are becoming multitools for fire departments” that might be charged with protecting more types of hazards instead of only aircraft. “We have built-in dual structural pump panels, one on each side of an ARFF truck, along with electric valves, large-diameter tank fills, suction plumbing, and dual 2½-inch discharges on each side,” Jones says. “Some of these vehicles are becoming hybrids with all of the characteristics of a traditional pumper on the chassis of an ARFF truck with all its specialized equipment.”
One of the drawbacks of adding a structural plumbing package to an ARFF truck, Jones points out, “is that you may have to lose some compartmentation. But, we customize our designs to meet the customer’s requirements and usually can modify the compartmentation or relocate a component to another area of the vehicle.”
|2 The Sault Ste. Marie Airport in Ontario, Canada, had E-ONE build this 4×4 ARFF truck with structural firefighting capability and a light tower for on-scene lighting. (Photo courtesy of E-ONE.)|
Jason Shively, director of engineering for airport products at Oshkosh Corp., says that, “from an industry standpoint, the ARFF crew at an airport is first-line for everything-a medical emergency in the terminal, a wheel fire on an aircraft, or a fire at the fuel farm. So, that means having the equipment to handle those scenarios on the ARFF vehicle.”
Shively notes that some airport fire departments have turned their ARFF vehicles into combination ARFF/rescue/medical/fire trucks. “We’re putting preconnects on ARFF trucks connected with a fixed length of hose-about 200 to 300 feet-and a fixed flow rate nozzle,” he says. “All three models of our Striker ARFF trucks (4×4, 6×6, and 8×8) offer crosslay trays accessible from each side of the vehicle that hold 200 feet of 1½- or 1¾-inch hose. The firefighter pulls the hose off the truck, arranges it, and gives it a tug to trip a pivot switch that engages the flow of water.”
|3 The Baton Rouge (LA) Metro Airport had Oshkosh build this 4×4 Striker ARFF truck with an HRET, bumper turret, and 1,500-gallon water tank. (Photo courtesy of Oshkosh.)|
Oshkosh’s Striker models are equipped with 2,000-gallon-per-minute (gpm) Waterous CRQB pumps; roof and bumper turrets; and, as an option, high reach extendable turrets (HRET). The 4×4 Striker carries a 1,500-gallon water tank, the 6×6 a 3,000-gallon water tank, and the 8×8 a 4,500-gallon water tank. Shively estimates that a third of the ARFF vehicles in the United States have an HRET on them. Typically, an Oshkosh Striker caries 500 pounds of dry chemical, although there is an option offered for a 1,000-pound system.
Tague Johnson, production sales coordinator for Rosenbauer and retired chief of the Orlando (FL) Fire Department, notes that structural firefighting capabilities on ARFF trucks “are very important to smaller airports that have to do more with fewer apparatus. With their limited budgets and personnel, they need a vehicle that’s a Swiss army knife that can do a little bit of everything.” Johnson says smaller Class 1 and 2 ARFF rigs (Ford F-550 size vehicles) that carry up to 300 gallons of water and a 300-gpm pump often have some structural firefighting capabilities and that the Class 3 ARFF trucks on International chassis with 500 gallons of water can be built as fully National Fire Protection Association-compliant engines with preconnects, a hosebed, and a ladder complement.
|4 This Oshkosh-built ARFF truck has crosslays on sliding trays that are covered by roll-up doors. (Photo courtesy of Oshkosh.)|
On Rosenbauer’s Class 4 and Class 5 Panther ARFF trucks, Johnson says it’s standard to have structural fire capability. “They are built with a main and 2½-inch pump suction, master and pressure gauges, intake gauges, preconnects, and 2½-inch discharges on each side,” he says. “For the Burbank (CA) Fire Department, we built a 4×4 Panther that has a compartment at the rear that holds 200 feet of three-inch hose in a tray so the department can forward lay from a water source to the ARFF truck.”
Johnson adds that aircraft are being made these days with a stronger skin and sometimes with a second floor for passengers. “The newer planes use a skin made of a composite material that’s reinforced, lighter weight, and stronger than aircraft aluminum,” Johnson says. “The Stinger tip on our HRET has a bulb at the end, and instead of using the vehicle to push into the plane, it is hydraulically fired to get through the tougher skin. The piercing tip also rotates 90 degrees up and down, so it can pierce a cargo hold from underneath or come down on top of an aircraft.”
|5 Rosenbauer built this 6×6 Panther ARFF truck for the Orlando International Airport Fire Rescue with an HRET and Stinger piercing tip that can rotate 90 degrees up and down. (Photo courtesy of Rosenbauer.)|
Adam Graves, ARFF product manager at KME, says that some cities are spec’ing their ARFF trucks more like custom pumpers, adding a set of preconnects on each side of the vehicles; 2½-inch discharges; and booster reels for multiproduct discharge of dry chemical, foam, or water. “Departments also are adding generators, telescoping lights, and light towers to their standard ARFF specs,” Graves notes. “They’re also putting in safety systems like a driver enhanced vehicle system (DEVS) that gives a bird’s-eye view of the runway through a global positioning system and mapping system.”
Jones says his company also has been installing large generators, more scene lighting, and light towers for sustained operations on some of its ARFF trucks and that most of those units are outfitted with all LED lighting. “Some of them have air reels and a compressor to power air tools,” he adds, “some carry battery-operated hydraulic rescue tools, and we have an ARFF truck on the line being built right now that’s going to be equipped with a hosed hydraulic rescue tool system.”
|6 The pump control panel on a Rosenbauer Panther ARFF truck. (Photo courtesy of Rosenbauer.)|
CAFS and UHP
Duane Kann, regional sales manager for Rosenbauer, says that some Rosenbauer ARFF trucks are being outfitted with compressed air foam systems (CAFS). “The use of CAFS allows them to use less water on a fire, which is important when you have limited water supply out on the airport grounds,” Kann observes. “We built a Class 5 ARFF truck for the Ottawa (Canada) Fire Department that has a CAFS on it, along with an HRET and Stinger piercing nozzle.”
Graves says KME offers ARFF vehicles from Class 1 through 5, many of which are carrying ultra-high-pressure (UHP) systems. “UHP is a two-in-one pump designed for low- and ultra-high pressure,” Graves points out. “An ARFF vehicle with UHP can do both structural firefighting and UHP work.”
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.