Alan M. Petrillo
The Northwest Rogers County (OK) Fire Protection District had considered replacing its three front-line engines for a couple of years, and when it finally got the board of trustees’ go-ahead for the finances to purchase them, the district turned to W.S. Darley & Co. to build three identical top-mount compressed air foam system (CAFS) pumpers to be housed in the district’s three stations.
Neal Brooks, national sales manager for Darley’s apparatus division, says the fire district “wanted an engine that minimum staffing would feel comfortable working in and that also could work with a minimum amount of water. That’s when we did a presentation to them and showed them the advantages of CAFS.”
Northwest Rogers County Fire Protection District is the largest in Oklahoma in terms of area, Brooks points out, and has experienced a lot of residential development because of oil and gas businesses expanding in the area. The fire district also has Lake Oologah, the state’s third largest lake, in its coverage area.
The three CAFS pumpers are identical units, each having a wheelbase of 210 inches, an overall length of 33 feet 4 inches, an overall height of 10 feet 6 inches, a 20,000-pound front axle, and a 27,000-pound rear axle. Each pumper is powered by a 380-horsepower (hp) Cummins ISL9 diesel engine and an Allison 3000 EVS automatic transmission and has a Darley LDMBC 1,500-gallon-per-minute (gpm) top-mount pump, a 1,005-gallon water tank, a 25-gallon foam tank, a FoamPro S106-2002 foam system, a Tamrotor Enduro 12TS compressor, and a Honda EM5000 SX generator.
Eric Motter, firefighter and mechanic for the fire district, says each of the CAFS pumpers has six foam-capable discharges: two 1¾-inch crosslays with 200 feet of hose, one 2½-inch crosslay with 200 feet of hose, a front bumper 1¾-inch preconnect with 150 feet of hose, a 2½-inch discharge, and a deck gun. Each rig also has a four-inch large-diameter hose water-only discharge on the curb side that will flow the capacity of the pump.
Northwest Rogers County (OK) Fire Protection District
Motter says because the fire district runs first-response emergency medical services (EMS) with its engines, it was important for the district to have an EMS compartment in the cab behind the officer’s seat to hold medical equipment, bags, oxygen, and an automated external defibrillator. The EMS compartment is only accessible from the exterior of the vehicle. “The interior of the pumpers has places for five, Motter says: the driver, the officer, a firefighter in a rear-facing seat behind the driver, and two fold-down self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) forward-facing seats along the center of the back wall of the cab.
“For about one-third of our calls, we usually only have a driver and an officer responding on the pumper,” he notes, “although station 1 is most likely to have more than two firefighters on the vehicle. These engines are set up as all-purpose main response vehicles that can handle anything from a structure fire to a motor vehicle accident, a car fire, or a medical call. The CAFS pumpers do everything except grass and brush fires, which we handle with our wildland units.”
Motter says the district firefighters like the Odin automatic fill feature on the CAFS engines. “We have a tanker hook a nurse line to the engine through the auto fill,” he points out. “When the engine tank gets down to one-quarter, an electric butterfly valve opens and starts filling the engine’s water tank. When the water tank gets to three-quarters full, the valve closes slowly and then shuts off. It’s a very handy feature to have.”
Another feature the firefighters like is the Command Light Knight LED light tower carried on top of each engine. “The Command Light is remote controlled and gives us 360-degree rotation,” Motter says. “It pivots up and down to change the angle of the lights, and the LED light heads are super bright and make daylight in the dark. They put a lot of light on a night scene.”
The district had Darley put large water level indicators on the driver’s side, officer’s side, and rear of each CAFS engine. “If a firefighter is working alone and doing a defensive attack as first on a fire scene, he always knows how much water he has left in the tank,” Motter notes. “If the light is green, the tank is full; it goes to blue at three-quarters, then yellow at half full, and finally red at one-quarter.”
W.S. Darley & Co. CAFS Pumpers
Other features that Northwest Rogers had Darley build into the CAFS pumpers include a Spartan mobile gateway and a refrigerator built into a compartment for firefighter rehab. The mobile gateway is an Internet router box that puts out a WiFi system through an AT&T card. “We can use iPads for reports and taking patient information within 1,500 feet of the pumper,” Motter says. “And, the refrigerator in the first compartment on the driver’s side has come in very handy when on a hot fire scene.”
Each CAFS pumper also has a mobile cascade air system, consisting of one 6,000-pound-per square-inch storage cylinder and two fill stations. “The system is in the front compartment on the officer’s side and can fill five SCBA cylinders. With three pumpers, that means we can fill 15 SCBA cylinders at a fire scene. Plus, we carry four spare SCBA cylinders on each pumper, two on each side of the rear wheels.”
As for the reasoning behind using CAFS, Motter says the district has very few hydrants, so it has to carry its own water to fire scenes, always taking a tanker as second due. “We don’t use as much water when flowing CAFS,” he says, “and we often are shorthanded, so its proven good for us. We’ve had close to a dozen structure fire calls where we were able to use CAFS, and the Darley pumpers were easy to operate and pumped well, extinguishing the fires quickly.”
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.