By Alan M. Petrillo
Wildland firefighters have special needs for equipment and associated gear, often very different than their structural firefighting brethren. These needs run the gamut from specialized pumping equipment and hand tools to firefighting-enhancing products.
A wide assortment of wildland equipment and gear likely to be found on wildland, brush, or WUI rigs made their appearance at the recent Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) conference sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) at the Peppermill Resort in Reno, Nevada.
Pumping systems that can be found on small and ultra-small wildland vehicles were represented at the conference by MTECH. Wade Meith, director of business development for MTECH, says the company’s 85EMS-C unit is designed for UTV and small pickup truck beds and combines a pumping system and a rescue litter platform. “It has all-welded construction with an 85-gallon water tank and is powered by either a Honda 2.2-horsepower (hp) or five-hp engine,” Meith says. “The 2.2-hp will pump a maximum of 73 gpm at 61 psi, and the 5-hp will pump 130 gpm at 125 psi.”
An option on the unit is an around-the-pump foam system with a 2½-gallon foam cell. Meith notes that the MTECH 85S and 85HP models have the same pumping specs, but are built without the EMS litter.
A valve that could prove useful in wildland fire work was exhibited by Cedar Valve. Eric Topacio, chief executive officer, says he designed the valve for those situations when a pumper or tanker operator doesn’t want to be anchored to a hydrant or other water source. “We have both 2½- and four-inch valves that can be used in WUI situations,” Topacio says. “The 2½-inch valve can be easily used by a Type 3 engine on a water shuttle.”
The Cedar Valve allows an operator to quickly disconnect at the engine panel while still hooked to a charged hydrant, without turning off the hydrant, Topacio points out. “Keeping a charged supply line on the ground for a return refill saves important time, water, and energy in water shuttling and tendering operations,” he says. “Using the Cedar Valve for water shuttling operations saves 75 percent of the connect and disconnect time compared to conventional methods. The end result is that more water is available.”
Scotty Fire, a company that is mostly known for its foam eductors and backpack fire pumps, manufacturers the Bravo backpack system for carrying liquids during fire operations. It consists of a Scotty 4000 nylon hand pump and pickup hose attached to a high-visibility yellow outer shell with a replaceable inner bladder. “The backpack has a six-gallon capacity and can be fitted with our Foam-Fast applicator,” Lloyd Rees, director of sales and support, says. “To operate it, you open the inlet side of the mixing chamber, insert a Fast-Foam cartridge, reseal the inlet end cap, attach to a supply hose, and spray Class A foam.”
James Jarvis, foam technical service representative for Phos-Chek, says his company makes fire-retardant foams and gels used in wildland firefighting. “The advantages of ground-applied products is that you can get 100 percent coverage; it can be applied hours, days, and weeks in advance; and it can be applied in night operations,” Jarvis says. “It also can be applied with pinpoint accuracy around wildlife and environmentally sensitive areas.”
Jarvis adds that Phos-Chek products can be used in structure protection and perimeter control, and when used in a prescribed fire, can provide a method of line building that has low impact on the land.
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.