The United States Forest Service says that about one third of the homes in the United States, approximately 44 million residences, are potentially hazarded by wildland fires because they are part of an expanded wildland urban interface (WUI) that impacts nearly every state in the nation. In 2017, reports the National Interagency Fire Center, 66,131 wildland fires burned approximately 9.8 million acres, and in a three-week period in October, wildland fires destroyed more than 8,700 structures and caused 23 fatalities in eight northern California counties alone.
Fire department chiefs, officers, agency officials, wildland fire managers, and firefighters are always on the lookout for the latest developments in wildland firefighting apparatus.
BFX Fire Equipment offers two Type 6 wildland engines, built to specs for fire agencies in California and Arizona. The wildland rig for the Viejas (CA) Fire Department, says Perry Shatley, BFX’s wildland sales manager, is built on a Ford F-550 Super Duty 4×4 cab and chassis, carrying a diesel-powered WATERAX BB-4® high-pressure pump that will deliver 100 gallons per minute (gpm) at 150 pounds per square inch (psi). The vehicle has a 300-gallon water tank, a 12-gallon foam cell, a Waterous Aquis 1.5 foam system, and a Hale Products electric primer.
“The Viejas Type 6 has an under-chassis tubular skid protection system,” Shatley notes, and has a fiber composite body that flexes up to 30 percent, is 40 percent lighter than steel, and 30 percent lighter than aluminum. There’s a 16½-ton Warn® TI winch on the front that uses a synthetic cable instead of steel, a compartment at the rear with a pull-out tray for a chain saw, a small air compressor with two air ports, and a Whelen traffic advisor at the back.”
BFX also built a Type 6 wildland pumper for the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, Shatley says, on a Ford F-550 Super Duty 4×4 cab and chassis with a diesel-powered WATERAX BBX four-stage pump that puts out 100 gpm at 150 psi and has a 300-gallon water tank, a 12-gallon foam tank, and a Foam Pro foam system. Both the Viejas and the Arizona Forestry rigs carry a Class 1 multiplexed electrical system, Shatley adds, as well as two 1½-inch discharges (one for water and one for foam), a 2½-inch intake, and a one-inch booster line reel.
Boise Mobile Equipment (BME) manufactured an Extreme Type 6 wildland rig built on a Dodge 5500 4×4 chassis and body that has been purchased by the city of Escalon (CA) Fire Department, according to Glenn Baley, BME’s wildland salesman. The Extreme Type 6 has a seven-inch BME full body lift, 47-inch-diameter Super Single wheels and tires, a Darley 120-gpm AGE 1.5 pump, a 300-gallon water tank, and a Whelen traffic advisor at the rear. “The pumper has a 1½-inch rear discharge, a 2½-inch intake, a one-inch booster line on a Hannay reel, and full underbody protection using skid plates and tubular protection,” he points out.
A smaller profile wildland rig is available from MTECH Inc.—the QTAC Model 85HP, a skid-mounted pumping and suppression system that was mounted on a Bobcat 4×4 UTV (utility terrain vehicle). Jason Black, president of MTECH, says the skid will fit any standard UTV like Polaris or Gravely, or a pickup truck bed. “The 85HP has a WATERAX Versax 6 high-pressure pump that will put out a maximum of 105 gpm at 120 psi,” Black notes. “The unit has a one-inch booster hose reel, an 85-gallon PolyTough™ baffled water tank, and a two-inch gated suction. The unit weighs 231 pounds dry, and can be outfitted with a Scotty Firefighter around-the-pump foam system.”
MTECH also offers Model EMS-R medical skid. The skid unit features a padded, adjustable attendant seat, a welded one-inch thick copolymer rescue litter platform, a hinged and latched door for storage area access, an oxygen compartment, and can be fitted with an IV pole. Black points out that the medical skid can be converted to the 85EMS-C with the addition of a medium-pressure Koshin or a high-pressure WATERAX Versax 6 pump, and a Hannay 1800 series manual reel for one-inch-diameter hose.
A different type of wildland vehicle is available from Bobcat, a Model T595 track loader powered by a 74-horsepower diesel engine that, according to Jordan Kramer, Bobcat’s government sales coordinator, can be used for cutting fire line, overhaul, or other wildland tasks. Heather Messmer, Bobcat’s government sales support manager, says the 8,500-pound vehicle uses Bobcat’s five-link torsion suspension undercarriage, and can be outfitted with a front scoop, dozer blade, grapnel, or other attachments.
Another unusual wildland fire vehicle is a wildland trailer built by Flash Fire & Safety. Luc Lainey, technician-salesman for Flash, says it’s designed as a highway/off-road fire trailer that can be used by fire departments in the wildland urban interface, commercial enterprises that want to protect out-of-the-way locations, ranchers, and homeowners in more remote areas. “The trailer has a 125-gallon water tank, a five-gallon foam cell, and a gasoline-powered WATERAX Versax 6-hp pump that will deliver 100 gpm at 120 psi, Lainey says. The trailer carries a ¾-inch hose line on a manual reel, is set up for a half-inch sprinkler system, carries four portable water backpacks, and mountings for hand tools. It also can be upgraded to a 9-hp WATERAX Versax pump if desired.
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and 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.