Wildland Fire Apparatus, PPE on Display at WUI Conference


By Alan M. Petrillo

At the WUI Conference, held in late March in Reno, Nevada, and sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs, various vendors displayed their newest products for attendees—from apparatus, to PPE.

HME debuted the WildMax, a new wildland apparatus. The WildMax is a mini Type 3 pumper that’s much beefier than a typical Type 6 wildland vehicle and with more features than a usual Type 3 apparatus.

Bob Becker, an HME representative, says the WildMax is built on a Ford F-550 Super Duty chassis that carries a Hale single-stage 1,500-gallon-per-minute (gpm) midship pump, a 500-gallon water tank, a Darley 1.5AGE 150-gpm auxiliary diesel pump for pump-and-roll capability, and a FRC Turbo Foam system. WildMax has a 21,700-pound gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), has a wheelbase of 186 inches, an overall length of 24 feet, and overall height of 8 feet, 1 inch.

“This is a four-door, four-wheel-drive vehicle with a limited slip rear axle, stainless steel body, and 139 cubic feet of full depth compartments,” Becker says. “It’s powered by a 6.7-liter 300-horsepower turbo diesel V8 engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, has all LED lighting, and the compartments are covered by Gortite roll-up doors.”

The mini Type 3 has provision for 200 feet of preconnected 1 ¾-inch hose in a crosslay, a 1½-inch connection in the front for a handline, and 600 feet of 2½-inch hose and 1,000 feet of 4-inch hose in the hosebed.

HME also exhibited a Model 34D Type 3 wildland engine with a 500-gpm Darley two-stage pump, a 500-gallon water tank, a 20-gallon Class A foam cell, and a Darley 1.5AGE 150-gpm auxiliary diesel pump for pump-and-roll ability.

The Model 34D is built on an International four-door, four-wheel-drive chassis powered by a 9-liter 330-hp diesel engine and an Allison 3000 EVS automatic transmission. The vehicle has a 183-inch wheelbase, 26-foot overall length, 9-foot, 9-inch overall height, a stainless steel body, and all LED lighting. Becker points out that the Model 34D is the program model purchased by CAL FIRE.

Boise Mobile Equipment also displayed a wildland rig at the WUI show: a Type 3 custom WUI pumper. Jeff Nevins, sales executive for Boise Mobile Equipment, says, “This pumper is versatile and can be used on brush fires to structure fires.”

The custom rig is built on a Freightliner four-wheel-drive, four-door chassis with seating for five firefighters and is powered by a Cummins 330-hp diesel engine and an Allison 3000 EVS automatic transmission. The Type 3 carries a 500-gpm midship pump, a 500-gallon water tank, 1,000 feet of 1½-inch hose, and 500 feet of 1-inch hose.

Nevins notes that while Type 3 wildland vehicles continue to remain popular with firefighters, he has seen a trend toward smaller, more nimble, and more versatile apparatus. “We’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about Type 6 wildland vehicles that can double as small rescues or EMS squads,” Nevins says. “Departments are also looking at more modular designs in their apparatus.”

Cutting fire lines to pinch off the movement and growth of wildland fires is an important tactic used by wildland fire incident commanders. Bobcat national accounts manager Bill McClaflin, says his company’s T770 compact track loader is designed precisely to handle that kind of job. “It’s a 92-horsepower track loader with a forestry cutter attachment,” McClaflin says. “Firefighters use it to cut fire breaks through heavy brush and lightly wooded areas.”

McClaflin notes the 60-inch wide cutter head can handle trees up to 12 inches in diameter and also grinds down six inches underground. “The forestry cutter head is removable and can be replaced by a bucket, chipper, pallet fork, or other type of attachment,” he adds.

Chad McCall, chief executive officer of Mountain Medics Inc., says his newly-formed company can field a 36-foot long deployable trailer holding a fully-stocked medical clinic and dispensary to Type 1 and Type 2 wildland fire incidents, along with a 4-wheel-drive ambulance and fire line-qualified and Incident Command System-qualified personnel such as nurse practitioners, paramedics, EMTs (emergency medical technicians), and registered nurses.

“The goal of Mountain Medics is to help people stay healthy and fit on the fire lines,” McCall points out. “We’ve been contracting out to incident commanders for eight years, and have deployed to wildfires and hurricanes. Our mobile field clinics also provide climate-controlled rehab facilities to complement our back-country patient care and transport.”

Andrew Wilson, president of JGW Group, is the distributor of the WMV-1 fire suppression system, an advanced robotic vehicle made by DOK-ING to be used in high-temperature wildland and forest areas. The WMV-1 is a 10-ton steel-tracked robot 6½-feet-wide by 10-1/2-feet long by 5 feet high with a low center of gravity that allows it to traverse up to a 38 degree slope. “The unit is controlled by a joystick and flat screen display that can access the four cameras aboard,” Wilson says. “The WMV-1 can operate at the same speed in both forward and reverse.”

The WMV-1 has a main arm that is able to remotely lift and move objects with a gripper tool or cut trees and branches with a wood shear tool. The unit also has a hydraulically-operated feller head, equipped with a bar saw and grapple, that can take down standing trees and other vegetation.

TenCate, a maker of protective fabrics, displayed its array of fire-resistant (FR) fabrics at the conference, with Tom Foley, TenCate’s end use marketing manager for emergency response, noting that the company is making fabrics that are used not only in PPE, but in undergarments worn by firefighters next to the skin. “We have a Tecasafe FR base layer used in shirts that outperforms cotton in terms of moisture wicking and drying,” Foley says. “PPE manufacturers also use Tecasafe in woven outer garments for wildland PPE.”

Foley points out that various wildland fire agencies have different needs in wildland PPE because of the varied roles their personnel carry out. “One agency might choose a Tecasafe woven garment because it is inherently fire-resistant,” he says, “while another, like CAL FIRE, might choose Nomex jackets where there’s 5½-ounce Nomex fabric on the chest and 7½-ounce Nomex fabric on the sleeves to allow a firefighter to wear a short-sleeved shirt under the jacket and still have the best protection.”

Although Nomex fabric continues to be the highest selling fabric in the wildland market, Foley notes that garments made with Tecasafe and those made from Advance, a Nomex-Kevlar ripstop fabric blend, are making inroads into the market.

Todd Herring, director of TECGEN PPE, points out that the PPE that TECGEN makes is compliant with NFPA 1977 wildland and NFPA 1951 technical rescue standards. Herring says that the gear is TECGEN’s top of the line and most popular product. “We weave our own fabric and blend our own yarns and then cut and sew the garments so we control the fabric through the entire process,” Herring says.

Herring notes the wildland gear has elbows and knees reinforced with rubberized Kevlar, and the knees have waterproof pad inserts. Trouser hems and insteps also are reinforced where the legs rub against a firefighter’s boots. “Our nonstructural PPE is built with our high-density carbon fiber shell that surrounds a flexible core for increased durability, flexibility and comfort over typical carbon-based fibers,” he says. “It meets the high breathability radiant heat protection and thermal heat protection requirements needed to protect the firefighter.”

Jose Quiaoit, sales manager for the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA), says CALPIA has introduced its newest line of wildland PPE that is NFPA 1977 compliant, meets International Organization for Standardization 9001:2008 (ISO), and is certified to meet CAL-OSHA flammability requirements. “We manufacture the wildland gear to CAL FIRE specs using TenCate fabrics,” Quiaoit says. “City, county, state, and metropolitan fire departments and agencies are able to purchase our wildland gear.”

CALPIA is a state-operated agency that provides work assignments for approximately 8,000 offenders in California’s adult and juvenile correctional institutions. Its wildland gear has an action back for a full range of motion, articulated elbows and knees, reinforced back and front rise, hook-and-loop closures for adjustable fit, and tab closure on the collar so it remains in a vertical position.

Don Constantino, North West sales representative for Haix USA, says his company makes two styles of boots worn by wildland firefighters. “The first is our XR1, a 9-inch-tall leather wildland and station boot that’s compliant with NFPA 1951, 1977, 1992, and 1999,” Constantino says. “It has a carbon toe, a reconditionable sole, a CROSSTECH interior, and its width is determined by the insert used:medium, wide, or extra-wide.”

Constantino says the second wildland boot Haix USA makes is the Missoula, an 8-inch-high leather model approved by the U.S. Forestry Service. The Missoula has a breathable interior, a Vibram sole that tested to 500°F, and is adjustable by laces.

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist and is 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.


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