special Delivery Alan M. Petrillo
When the Orangeville (IL) Fire Protection District needed a new front-line pumper-tanker set up with a compressed air foam system (CAFS), it turned to W.S. Darley & Co. for the new rig, based on the performance of a retrofitted Darley CAFS Orangeville had done on a previous pumper-tanker.
Mel Wichman, Orangeville’s chief, says the fire district had a 1998 Firemaster Freightliner pumper-tanker retrofitted with a Darley CAFS in 2004. “We were very impressed with the capabilities of the Darley CAFS,” Wichman points out. “We also have an Odin CAFS skid unit on our 2007 GMC 5500 wildland light rescue, so we have a lot of experience using CAFS.” He adds, “We chose Darley to build our new CAFS pumper-tanker because they are great innovators with CAFS and excellent people to work with.”
Neal Brooks, national sales manager of the apparatus division for Darley, says he had done some CAFS training with the department in the past. “Orangeville is basically a rural department with a very hilly topography with a lot of farms very close to the Wisconsin border,” Brooks notes. “It does a lot of mutual aid with surrounding areas and has had tremendous success with its first Darley CAFS unit. The department didn’t want to purchase two vehicles, so it chose a pumper-tanker that has more water than a traditional engine and the suppression capabilities of the Darley AutoCAFS.”
Troy Carothers, Darley’s AutoCAFS manager, says the new Darley pumper-tanker is a change in thinking for the Orangeville firefighters in terms of the pump panel. “Their Freightliner pumper-tanker was a top-mount, but the new Darley AutoCAFS pumper-tanker has a stainless steel pump panel on the curb side of the apparatus,” Carothers points out. “They do a lot of highway work and wanted to keep the pump operator in a safe place when at motor vehicle accident scenes. There’s a wide-angle and infrared camera on the driver’s side that sends a view of the left side of the apparatus to the pump control panel so the operator can see what’s happening on the opposite side of the vehicle.”
Carothers notes the pumper-tanker has a Darley Champion LDMBC 1,500-gallon-per-minute (gpm) single-stage pump, a PolyBilt™ copolymer body with an integral 2,000-gallon water tank, a 25-gallon foam cell, a FoamPro 2002 Class A foam system, a Darley AutoCAFS 220-cubic-feet-per-minute (cfm) rotary screw air compressor, six CAFS discharges that include three speedlays and 100 feet of 1¾-inch hose in an extended front bumper compartment, four water-only discharges, a six-inch stainless steel intake at the rear of the vehicle, and an Akron 3440 Deckmaster 1,250-gpm deck gun with electric remote control and smoothbore tips for CAFS.
Wichman says that Orangeville’s truck committee also wanted a custom chassis instead of a commercial one. “We believe that in the long run, the custom chassis is much better because with the Spartan chassis, we can maneuver more easily than we could with our commercial chassis pumper-tanker,” he says. “We also wanted to be able to carry more firefighters, and the Spartan cab will hold six. Plus, there’s a benefit in that the side-mount pump makes the vehicle shorter than one with a top-mount pump.”
Brooks says that lighting on the pumper-tanker also was a top consideration for the Orangeville firefighters. “They wanted a light tower, so we put on a Will-Burt NightScan Chief with two 12-volt FRC 160-watt Evolution light heads that put out 13,000 lumens each,” Brooks notes. “Warning lighting includes a Whelen Edge LED light bar and LED 700 Beacon warning lights, six Whelen M9 LED scene lights (two on each side and two on the rear of the vehicle), and a Whelen Pioneer LED light on the brow.”
In addition, the vehicle has a Hannay electric cord reel with a junction box in the rear compartment and a Sensata Technologies 3,000-watt inverter that takes the 12-volt power and converts to 120-volts for the electric cord reel. Storage for two lengths of hard suction hose is provided in a tunnel through the center of the water tank, while a rear, slide-in ladder rack is located on the right side of the tank.
Wichman points out that the first fire call the pumper-tanker went on was in March 2017 for a four-stall garage holding tractors and automobiles. “The garage was fully involved when we got on the scene,” he says. “Forty feet away from the garage was a barn filled with antique machinery. We lost the garage but saved the barn using CAFS.”
Wichman says that Orangeville uses CAFS about 90 percent of the time for fire suppression. “About the only time we don’t use it is when a fire is too far gone and it would only be a waste of foam,” he observes. “The CAFS performs very well for us, it’s easier for firefighters to handle the hoselines, and it takes less water to extinguish fires.”
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.