The heightened public attention to the acreage and property losses associated with wildland fires has resulted in a significant increase in budgets for local, state and federal fire agencies to purchase additional wildland fire apparatus and equipment. One example is the U.S. Forest Service, which recently ordered 56 fire trucks to supplement its existing fleet of 140 firefighting vehicles in California. Nationally, the Forest Service is planning to purchase more than 400 new fire apparatus.
As departments prepare to buy wildland fire apparatus, they're developing specifications that reflect a variety of new vehicle configurations and sizes to meet different applications and budgets. They also are developing specifications that reflect new vehicle components and features to provide improvements in performance, versatility and safety.
Big and small
Take a trip around the country and you'll see a wide variety of wildland fire apparatus — from small flatbed rigs and patrol pumpers to big interface engines and attack tenders. Some have standard 4×2 drive for operation on paved or graded roads, others have 4×4 drive for off-road use. Some are staffed by one or two firefighters, while others carry a crew of five or six.
Big or small, they're all designed to operate in a wildland environment, which means sharp grade changes, narrow roads, tight turns and no hydrants. If they have to go off-road, that also means chuckholes, side slopes, loose soil and an occasional large rock.
The smallest wildland pumpers include light-duty pickup trucks or flatbeds fitted with little or no compartments. They usually are equipped with slip-on pump/tank units and booster hose reels. This is an economical configuration for departments that have only a limited wildland response area or where there's only a seasonal need for fire protection. Slip-on units also can be easily transferred from one chassis to another when it's time to purchase a new truck because of age or damage.
Mid-sized wildland pumpers include larger light-duty trucks fitted with compartmented bodies and booster hose reels or preconnected hose trays. They may be equipped with slip-on pump/tank units, or the pumps and tanks may be permanently mounted. Some municipal departments use this type of pumper to fill several roles, including wildland pumper, quick-attack structure pumper, first-response ems vehicle and off-road rescue truck.
The largest wildland pumpers include medium-duty trucks fitted with compartmentalized bodies, large hose beds, and both booster hose reels and preconnected hose trays. Municipal interface pumpers and forestry heavy engines fall into this category. Four-door crew cabs are common for these two types because of the large number of personnel required to take advantage of the pumper's capabilities. Wildland attack tenders fitted with large water tanks for sustained operation in remote locations also are included in this category.
Many manufacturers say the general trend is toward larger wildland pumpers with four-door cabs, bigger water tanks and more compartments for equipment to give departments greater attack capability. At the same time, they say cost is a critical issue for many smaller departments, and slip-on units can give these customers excellent value for the money.
Hit it hard
Many wildland pumpers now are being specified with pumps that have higher flowrates and pressures to give them a bigger punch. Under the old nfpa 1906, Wildland Fire Apparatus, all pumps were grouped into a single category with a maximum flowrate of 250gpm and a maximum pressure of 150psi. The new nfpa 1906 divides pumps into four categories with flowrates as high as 500gpm for situations requiring multiple hose lines or structure protection, and with pressures as high as 400psi for situations involving long hose lays or severe rises in elevation.
The ability to pump and roll while the vehicle moves along the edge of a running grass fire can be provided by several different pump-drive methods, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. One common method is to run the pump off a transmission power take-off. This is the least expensive and least heavy method, but the disadvantage is that the pump flowrate and pressure vary as the engine speed varies.
Another version of this method uses a hydraulic motor running off a hydraulic pump on a front engine to drive the water pump. This gives better control of flowrates and pressures and allows flexibility in mounting the pump, but it costs more and often requires a smaller vehicle radiator, which can result in engine overheating.
For larger flowrates, a crossmount diesel engine — driven pump is often used. This gives excellent control of pump flowrates and pressures, but it's more expensive and the added weight can contribute to a high center of gravity for the vehicle.
Finally, many smaller wildland pumpers use portable-type pumps driven by 18- to 26hp gasoline or diesel engines. This method also gives excellent control of flowrates and pressures, but the pumps have limited flow capacity, and their fuel tanks must be filled separately — and more often — if they run on different fuel than the vehicle.
Additional firefighting power is provided by Class A foam systems, which now are found on almost every wildland pumper. Foam has been shown to be roughly twice as effective in extending the water supply and providing better penetration of vegetation. A 5- to 20-gallon foam concentrate reservoir is adequate to treat 1,000 to 4,000 gallons of water when proportioned at 0.5%.
Compressed-air foam systems are specified on less than 10 to 20% of new wildland pumpers, according to several manufacturers, but this number has been growing slowly. cafs offers many real advantages for wildland firefighting, including lighter hoses, lower pressure drops, more extinguishing power, better exposure protection and longer stream throw for greater stand-off distance during direct attack.
The biggest disadvantage to cafs is the purchase price, which can be as much as $35,000 more than straight Class A foam systems. Despite the higher price, departments with limited water supplies, steep terrain requiring long hose lays or wildland/urban interface structure exposures could see big benefits from specifying cafs.
Some departments are specifying wildland pumpers with the flexibility to do several jobs. This is especially true in situations where a wildland pumper is needed only occasionally and departments couldn't otherwise justify the purchase.
The most common additional role is to respond to vehicle accidents that might occur on the hundreds of miles of paved and dirt roads that criss-cross many wildland areas. For this application, wildland pumpers often have larger equipment compartments for rescue and ems gear, as well as winches to handle over-the-side accidents. They also may be equipped with additional scene lighting for night operations.
Another common role is to attack structure fires that might occur in remote vacation dwellings or along a wildland/urban interface. For this application, wildland pumpers often carry a limited amount of supply hose, ground ladders and breathing apparatus. They also may carry forcible entry tools and have storage space for structural turnout gear.
A word of warning on this subject: Departments that currently use wildland pumpers in multiple roles say that trying to make one apparatus do too many jobs can mean that it doesn't do any of them well.
Perhaps the most significant changes in wildland pumpers are the many safety-related components and features that now are being specified. Many of these safety items are required in the latest edition of nfpa 1906. (See sidebar, page 62.)
The nfpa 1906 calls for new standards of slip resistance, size, shape, weight capacity and step height for all surfaces where personnel would step, walk or stand. It also calls for improved levels of lighting around the vehicle below steps and body-access points. These new standards are designed to reduce the potential for slip-fall accidents, which are among the most common injuries suffered by firefighters.
New side-slope stability standards now allow manufacturers to either calculate the vertical center of gravity, which must be no more than a certain percentage of the rear axle track width, or demonstrate side-slope stability to a certain minimum angle on a tilt table.
In addition, warning lights on wildland apparatus must now meet the same criteria as vehicles covered under nfpa 1901 to improve apparatus visibility to oncoming traffic when responding on public roads.
No matter what configuration or equipment you choose for your next wildland pumper, you should remember to spec a rig that meets your specific needs and operating conditions. A truck designed to fight grass fires on flat terrain probably won't do well fighting forest fires in the mountains, and a truck that's primarily used to respond to vehicle accidents and trash fires probably won't stand a chance if it has to go off-road into heavy brush.
When you write your specs, consider the types of wildland areas you have to protect, the frequency of fires, the availability of water, the number of personnel available and the amount of money you have to spend. With the wider range of new wildland pumpers now available, there's certainly one that's right for you.
Apparatus manufacturers offer service seminars
American LaFrance offers service training for fire departments operating current-generation American LaFrance fire apparatus and ambulances. Here are some of the classes scheduled for the first half of this year.
Service and Maintenance: March 11-13, April 22-24, May 6-8 and June 3-5. Familiarization with the components and systems of American LaFrance Eagle and Metropolitan models. Covers maintenance procedures for pumps, alternators, transmissions and electronics.
Multiplexing: March 14-15, April 25-26, May 9-10 and June 6-7. Familiarization with the components and operation of the electrical multiplexing system found on American LaFrance models. Covers basic troubleshooting.
Pump Repair and Testing: March 18-22, April 29-May 3 and May 13-17. Familiarization with the components and systems associated with American LaFrance midship pumps. Covers maintenance and repair of pumps and transmissions, as well as the service testing required by nfpa 1911.
Ambulance Service and Maintenance: March 4-8, June 10-14 and June 24-28. Familiarization with the Freightliner Business Class cab and chassis and with the MedicMaster ambulance body and systems. Covers the electrical and hvac systems, kkk-a-1822 specifications, Material Safety Data Sheets and proper procedures for dealing with bloodborne pathogens.
For registration forms and further information, call the technical training registrar at 503-735-7725 or visit the American LaFrance Web site at <<a href="http://www.americanlafrance.com" target="_blank">www.americanlafrance.com>.
. has several service training classes scheduled this year. All classes are held in Appleton, Wis.
All-Wheel Steer Maintenance: March 14-15. Introduction to the All-Wheel Steer system, including information on maintenance and repair of system components.
Chassis Multiplex: April 11-12. Covers multiplex electrical system components, functions, troubleshooting and repair. Requires a thorough understanding of truck electrical systems and a working knowledge of Windows 95/98.
Further information and registration forms may be obtained by faxing 920-832-3049 or e-mailing <<a href="mailto:email@example.com" target="_blank">firstname.lastname@example.org>.
offers a full schedule of maintenance classes at their facility in Ocala, Fla. They also offer preparatory classes for evt Certification Commission exams at nearby Florida Fire College. Here are some of the classes scheduled for the first half of this year.
evt Electrical (F4): March 4-8. Offered through the Florida Fire College to prepare students for the evt Certification Commission Electrical (F4) exam.
Hale Pumps: March 26-28. Includes preventive maintenance and minor troubleshooting of Hale pumps.
Multiplex: March 26-28, April 15-17 and May 20-22. Reviews multiplex theory. Covers operation and troubleshooting of E-One multiplex electrical systems.
Electrical 2: April 8-12. Covers advanced electrical theory and troubleshooting. Requires Electrical 1 or ase/evtcc certification to enroll.
Aerial 1: April 15-19. Covers E-One aerial products and systems with an emphasis on preventive maintenance.
Electrical 1: April 22-26. Reviews basic electrical theory, components, systems and tools.
evt Allison (F6): May 1-3. Offered through the Florida Fire College to prepare students for the evt Certification Commission Allison (F6) exam.
arff Maintenance: May 6-10. Covers preventive maintenance and limited troubleshooting of E-One arff units built after 1997.
Aerial 2: May 13-17. Covers E-One aerial products and systems with an emphasis on troubleshooting. Requires Aerial 1 or evtcc certification to enroll.
Detroit Diesel: June 11-14. Includes familiarization and maintenance procedures for Series 40, 50 and 60 engines.
Allison: June 18-21. Covers maintenance and troubleshooting of Allison automatic transmissions. (This class is not an evtcc preparatory review. See evt Allison (F6) on May 1-3.)
evt Aerials (F5): June 24-28. Offered through the Florida Fire College to prepare students for the evt Certification Commission Aerials (F5) exam.
For information, contact Bob Meyer of Emergency One, 352-237-1122, fax: 352-237-2999.
EVT curriculum expanded
The curriculum of the Florida evt Training Symposium on March 11-15 in Ocala, Fla., has been expanded to include three class tracks: evt, Driver/Engineer and Journeyman. In addition to offering classes on engines, pumps and transmissions, they also offer classes ranging from welding to aerial inspection to cafs maintenance. Several of the classes specifically are designed to help students prepare for the evt Certification Commission exams, which will be offered on the last day as an option. For information, call 386-676-2744 or visit <<a href="http://www.faevt.org" target="_blank">www.faevt.org>.
NFPA 1906 revised
nfpa 1906, Wildland Fire Apparatus, has been revised. It now covers a broader range of vehicle gvwrs, pump flowrates and water tank capacities. It also includes new requirements for vehicle side-slope stability, braking systems, warning lights, step surfaces, crew seats, cafs performance and several other changes. (See “Wet and Wild,” page 59.)
Call for EVT association events
All meetings, conferences and training sessions sponsored by state and local emergency vehicle technician and fire mechanic associations are now listed monthly in the Calendar section of Fire Chief. This will allow us to notify you of these events on a more timely basis. Please mail all calendar listings to Lisa Allegretti, Fire Chief, 29 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago, Ill. 60606, or e-mail them to <<a href="mailto:email@example.com" target="_blank">firstname.lastname@example.org>.
The newly revised nfpa 1906, Wildland Fire Apparatus 2001, covers apparatus that are “designed primarily to support wildland fire-suppression operations.'' Specifically, it covers wildland apparatus with any gross vehicle weight rating, 10- to 500gpm pumps and 50-gallon or larger water tanks. The new edition represents a considerable expansion in scope of this standard to reflect the broad variety of fire apparatus engaged in wildland fire suppression — from small grass rigs to big brush trucks.
The new nfpa 1906 also incorporates many of the safety enhancements already found in nfpa 1901, Automotive Fire Apparatus (1999). Some of the areas in nfpa 1906 that were affected by these safety-related revisions include warning lights, stepping and walking surfaces, auxiliary braking systems, crew seating configurations, and work lighting around the vehicle. In addition, there are new requirements for vehicle documentation, pump and cafs performance, and determination of side-slope stability.
Readers familiar with both standards will note that there's now an overlap between the two for apparatus with pumps in the 250- to 500gpm range. Initial attack pumpers that are designed to fight vegetation fires are covered by nfpa 1901, while wildland pumpers are covered by nfpa 1906. The primary difference is that nfpa 1906 has more stringent requirements for ground clearance, angles of approach and departure, side-slope stability, and pump-and-roll capabilities, while nfpa 1901 has more stringent requirements for hose, tank capacity, ladders and equipment. Departments specifying apparatus with pumps in the 250- to 500gpm range need to decide how and where the apparatus are going to be used to decide which standard to follow.
These standards may be ordered from nfpa by calling 800-344-3555 or by visiting their Web site at <<a href="http://www.nfpacatalog.org" target="_blank">www.nfpacatalog.org>.
Wildland pumper manufacturers
Boise Mobile Equipment
Campbell & Kelly
Danko Emergency Equipment
W.S. & Co.
General Fire Apparatus
H&W Emergency Vehicle Service
Hi-Tech Fire Apparatus
KME Fire Apparatus
M & W Fire Apparatus
Magee Fire Equipment
S & S Fire Apparatus
Westates Fire Apparatus
West-Mark Fire Apparatus