Valdez, Alaska, is where the Alaskan pipeline terminates at a huge terminal facility, and while the facility has a fire brigade, the Valdez Fire Department also responds on a first alarm basis. When the department had an engine coming up on its replacement cycle, it turned to Pierce Manufacturing to build an industrial pumper with a large foam capacity.
Tracy Raynor, Valdez’s chief, says besides the terminal facility, Valdez’s fire protection area includes a bulk storage facility and a refinery in town. “There is a lot of storage of combustible liquids,” Raynor observes, “so we knew we needed an industrial style pumper with a large pump and a big reserve of Class B foam.”
The city of Valdez has a year-round population of about 4,000, but in summer when the tourist and fishing season is in full swing, there often are 12,000 to 15,000 people in the 275-square-mile city. The Valdez Fire Department operates out of three fire stations with 11 paid full-time firefighters and 35 volunteer firefighters. The department provides fire and rescue services as well as EMS with transport, using four engines, two tenders (tankers), a rescue squad, three ALS ambulances, and assorted support vehicles.
Raynor points out that, “In Alaska, everything is based on the road system, and we’re at the end of the road. The closest mutual aid is 115 miles away, so we’re pretty much on our own.”
Andy Klein, sales representative for Hughes Fire Equipment Inc., who sold the industrial pumper to Valdez, says the vehicle Pierce built is on a Velocity 4×4 chassis and cab with seating for four firefighters and including an EMS cabinet, powered by a Detroit DD13 engine, an Allison 3000 EVS automatic transmission, and outfitted with a Waterous C100 2,000-gpm midship pump, a 500-gallon water tank, a 250-gallon Class B foam tank, and a Husky® 60 industrial foam system. “The pumper had to be four-wheel drive because of all the snow that Valdez gets,” Klein points out. “The pumper was a juggling act because it had to be capable to deal with industrial fires, as well as structure fires, and the tankers moving fuel on the roads. “There are a lot of tankers moving on the roads between the refinery and storage tanks, usually carrying between 8,000 and 10,000 gallons of fuel.”
Raynor notes that because Alaska is dark during quite a bit of the year, scene lighting was a major concern in the design of the industrial pumper. The rig has two FRC Q20 20,000-lumen LED scene lights on each side, two FRC Q20s on the back wall of the cab, two FRC LED 28,000-lumen scene lights on telescoping poles, an FRC LED brow light, and a FRC Q20 at the rear of the vehicle. The pumper’s hosebed carries 1,000 feet of five-inch LDH, and two beds of 400 feet of dead lay 2½-inch hose.
The industrial pumper also has a 10-kW Harrison hydraulic generator, a cord reel, a Safety Vision 620 backup camera, and a hydraulic ladder rack holding a three-section 35-foot extension ladder, a two-section 24-foot extension ladder, and a 14-foot roof ladder. Raynor says the pumper has two 1¾-inch crosslays of 200 feet each, 100 feet of 1¾-inch hose preconnected in the front bumper, and HURST hydraulic rescue tools including a spreader, cutter, and rams, as well as Hurst eDRAULIC units. “There are a lot of areas where we have to do off road rescues on steep terrain, so the eDRAULIC tools come in very handy,” Raynor says.
Klein points out that because Valdez experiences very high hydrant pressures, which can be tricky to manage, Pierce installed a pressure-reducing valve into the pumper’s rear six-inch intake. Pierce also provided what Klein calls “a cold-blooded package, with insulation and heaters in the pump house to prevent freezing.”
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.