|The Crimson Fire urban wildland interface truck that Malta Ridge Volunteer Fire Company purchased has a 199-inch wheelbase and a 27-foot, one-inch overall length that allows the firefighters to take it into tight spots not easily accessible with a traditionally-sized pumper.|
|The front bumper of the Crimson Fire unit has a preconnected 1-3/4-inch hoseline and plenty of reflective striping to make the vehicle more noticeable when it’s working in traffic.|
Malta Ridge (N.Y.) Volunteer Fire Company’s district contains a mixture of uses among its 34 square miles, from commercial and industrial facilities to rural and suburban residential structures.
One part of town of special concern to the fire company encompasses Saratoga Lake, an area of summer and year-round homes tightly packed along the shoreline on narrow, winding roads. It’s an area that is difficult to navigate with a traditional size engine, especially on the lakeside’s one-lane unpaved roads.
The answer to Malta Ridge’s access troubles came in the form of a Crimson Fire urban wildland interface vehicle – a rig with a 199-inch wheelbase on an International 4×4 chassis with an extruded aluminum crew cab and body that allows firefighters to negotiate tight turns and slippery dirt roads.
“We use the vehicle for suburban and rural calls, especially those around Saratoga Lake, where it can get tight pretty quickly,” said Malta Ridge Fire Chief Pete Shaw. “We also use it off road in forest areas and as a first response vehicle for car fires and auto accidents on Interstate 87, a major north-south highway.”
The Malta Ridge district encompasses Luther Forest, a former pine forest plantation dotted with suburban residences, as well as a technology park, where construction is underway on what is expected to be the largest computer chip manufacturing fabrication plant in the world.
“Global Foundries, an offshoot of AMD, is building the $4 billion project, which will take up a portion of a 1,300-acre tech park facility,” Shaw said. “It will be a 1.2 million-square-foot facility and will be the only such plant in the world covered exclusively by a volunteer fire department.”
Shaw said the first part of the development involves 150 acres for the plant, which means his district needs to have a vehicle that can get around a large construction site with dirt tracks and often muddy access. Malta Ridge already responds to the developed portion of the Tech Park, which Shaw said accounts for about 10 percent of the department’s overall calls.
“The Global Foundries plant will have its own emergency response team, which we’re planning with them, but Malta Ridge still will be the first responding agency there,” he said. “We anticipate there will be a lot of hazardous materials on the site, so our hazmat response will probably increase for that area.”
The district’s new Crimson Fire rig has proven to be a big help in responding to auto accidents and car fires on the interstate. “It’s not as big a vehicle as a traditional engine, so it can maneuver around stopped traffic more easily,” Shaw pointed out. “We also can drive it on the median if we have to without worrying about getting it buried.”
Travis Croteau, fire rescue division manager for Arrowhead Equipment in Queensbury, N.Y., the Crimson Fire dealer for a 13-county territory in upstate New York and all of Vermont, said he talked with Malta Ridge personnel about potential apparatus purchases for three years before the need for the interface vehicle surfaced.
“I had a truck similar to one they had purchased in the past, a demo unit, and stopped by to show them the vehicle,” Croteau said. “They like four-wheel-drive vehicles because they have areas of the town that are very hilly, plus there are the narrow roads and tightly packed houses and camps around the lake.”
Croteau said the Crimson Fire urban wildland interface vehicle can be deployed in a wide range of situations.
“They can use it in extreme weather conditions,” he said, “take it off-road to get into a construction site or down the median of the interstate, pump water directly from Saratoga Lake where there are no fire hydrants, and use it as a first-line defense for car fires or for calls in tight places because it’s so small and maneuverable.”
Croteau noted the vehicle will hold five firefighters, four outfitted in SCBAs, and has the pumping and firefighting capability to take the place of a traditional engine. He said it meets the requirements of the National Fire Protection Association’s 1901 apparatus standard “to be a full-fledged engine.”
The Crimson Fire rig, according to Croteau, can drive through deep water and performs well in the snow. “It’s a great niche truck,” he said, “for anyone with a mountain area or tight lakeside with lots of camps and houses crowded around.”
He noted that his company added a considerable amount of reflective material on both the front and rear of the truck “to keep firefighters safe when they are using it on calls where they have to be near traffic.”
Shaw said the department is very happy with the performance of the truck, which has been used for vehicle fires, extrications, brush fires and babysitting downed trees on power lines. In addition, he said, it has proved its value in support operations at structure fires to fill tankers or set up on hydrants.
“It’s a well-rounded piece of equipment,” the chief said. “We’ve had a lot of interest in this vehicle from other departments around us. Buying this truck couldn’t have worked out any better.”
Malta Ridge Volunteer Fire Company, Malta, N.Y.
Strength: 53 volunteer firefighters operating out of two stations, providing fire suppression, rescue and emergency responses.
Service area: Commercial, manufacturing and suburban covering 34 square miles, 20 miles north of the state capital, Albany.
Other apparatus: 2009 Crimson engine-tanker with a 1,250-gpm pump and a 1,000-gallon tank; 2003 HME retrofitted engine and aerial, with a 1,500 gpm pump, a 1,300-gallon tank and a 55-foot aerial ladder; 2001 Rosenbauer engine with composite cab and rear-mounted 1,000-gpm pump and a 500-gallon tank; 1993 Central States engine on Spartan chassis with a 1,250-gpm pump and a 1,500-gallon tank; 1989 Ford F-350 one-ton brush truck with a 200-gpm pump and a 200-gallon tank slide-in unit; 28-foot pontoon rescue boat; 2005 Ford Explorer chief's vehicle; 2010 Ford F-150 assistant chief’s vehicle; 2005 Ford F-250 assistant chief’s vehicle.
Crimson Fire Urban Wildland Interface Vehicle
- 4200 series International 4×4 with crew cab
- Extruded aluminum body with full-height compartments
- Custom-built center console
- Four SCBA seats
- International V-8 500-hp turbo diesel engine
- Allison 2500 EVS automatic transmission
- Overall length: 27 feet, 1 inch
- Wheelbase: 199 inches
- Hale single-stage 1,000-gpm midship pump
- 500-gallon tank
- 20-gallon Class A foam cell
- Two Mattydale preconnects
- One 2-1/2-inch preconnect off hosebed
- One front bumper preconnect
- One Hannay booster reel mounted under crew door holding 100 feet dead lay of forestry hose
- One 20-foot, three-section extension ladder
- One 10-foot roof ladder
- One 10-foot attic ladder
- SCBA bottle storage on each side of truck
- Kussmaul battery conditioner
- Whelen lighting package
- 12-volt scene lighting
- Fire Research Focus LED telescopic lights at rear
Price: $205,000 without equipment