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Wildland Innovations Powering Designs in Rigs Crafted for Fire Agency’s Needs

By Alan M. Petrillo

There are plenty of wildland Type 6 and Type 3 fire vehicles in fire department and fire agency fleets throughout the country, based chiefly on the typical requirements of wildland firefighters for maneuverability and off-road capability in the vehicle, a robust pumping capacity, the maximum amount of water that can be carried by the chassis, pump-and-roll capability, and as much storage space as possible. Then there are always tweaks to the typical wildland rig that manufacturers will make to accommodate the special requirements of a fire department or agency.

For Santa Clara County Fire Department KME built six Type 3 interface pumpers on International 7400 4×4 chassis with crew cabs, and powered by Cummins 350-horsepower ISL9 diesel engines, and Allison 3000 EVS automatic transmissions. (All photos courtesy of KME.)

Such was the case with the Santa Clara County (CA) Fire Department, located in the North Bay area of the state southeast of San Francisco. Santa Clara County’s wildland rigs are based loosely on the CALFire Model 34 design, which has proven to be a very successful evolution of the wildland Type 3 product.

Bret Cerini, sales manager for wildland products at KME, says Santa Clara County’s Type 3 rigs are designed specifically as wildland vehicles, although they could be used as backups to structural firefighting Type 1 rigs if necessary, as well as for motor vehicle accidents and car fires. “When it comes to pumps on a wildland vehicle, the fire department determines what the application will be,” Cerini points out. “Today, it’s not only what gallons per minute (gpm) you want out of the pump, but also it’s about what pressure you want to pump at.”

Santa Clara County’s KME-built Type 3 interface pumpers are shown here at the scene of the Cranston Fire. Each of the rigs has a Darley JMP 500-gallons per minute (gpm) two-stage pump, a 500-gallon water tank, 20-gallon foam tank, and a Darley 1.5 AGE engine driven pump to provide pump-and-roll capability.

Santa Clara County recently took delivery of six Type 3 interface pumpers built by KME on International 7400 4×4 chassis with crew cabs, powered by Cummins 350-horspower ISL9 diesel engines and Allison 3000 EVS automatic transmissions. The vehicles have wheelbases of 177 inches, overall lengths of 25 feet 7 inches, and overall heights of 9 feet 7 inches.

The Santa Clara County rigs have 92-inch interface bodies of 12-gauge galvanneal steel and carry 500-gallon wetside stainless steel water tanks, Darley JMP 500-gpm two-stage pumps, 20-gallon foam tanks, and Darley 1.5-AGE engine-driven pumps for pump-and-roll.

Cerini points out that while the Santa Clara County interface wildland rigs are specifically designed for work in the West, not all fire departments around the country handle wildland fires in the same manner. “Response to wildland fires is dictated by fuel, weather, and topography,” Cerini observes. “Some fire departments have their personnel walk and extinguish, others ride and extinguish, while others use mobile turret applications. There are pros and cons to each type of application, depending on the geographic location in the United States, and the vehicles departments use reflect that type of use.”

This Type 6 wildland pumper for San Diego County Fire Department is typical of Type 6 wildland configurations around the country.

One of the innovations that Cerini, who worked for CALFire for 30 years, says is being pushed by departments around the country revolves around rollover protection on wildland rigs. “Type 3 through Type 7 wildland vehicles are mostly built on commercial chassis and maintained to federal rollover requirements,” he points out, “but not necessarily up to the NFPA 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus, custom chassis requirements. People are looking at providing additional rollover protection for when the vehicle is not on all four tires and in the development of a body style that can be used to enhance that, especially in Type 6 body types.”

Cerini adds that the trend he’s been seeing, especially in the Western states where Type 3 vehicles have ruled for years, is a movement toward Type 6 apparatus. “Fire managers are learning the benefits of Type 6 rigs,” he says. “They are smaller, more maneuverable, cost less to purchase, and have a staffing level of two firefighters instead of four firefighters in a Type 3.”

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.

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