Futuristic Firefighting

Bigger, faster and tougher vehicles

Published:  01 January, 2007

It’s enough to make even the most hardened driver salivate. Imagine a top quality fire truck with a RENK 5-speed automatic transmission – with retarder and mechanical emergency shifting – a progressive coil spring suspension and EG brake system with ABS and 16.00 R 20 Michelin XZL tyres. 
It truly sounds the business, doesn’t it?

What’s being described here is the Ziegler ALPAS Airport Crash Tender – beloved of industrial locations such as Stuttgart Airport, Germany – it has been designed to fully meet ICAO, ADV, NFPA, and CE standards.
Joerg Hitzler comments: “The ALPAS is built on a M.A.N. chassis 36.1000 VFAEG 8x8; it has a M.A.N. V 12-cylinder diesel engine with 735 kW/1,000 PS, EURO 2 features. It features a maximum speed 138 km/h with an acceleration of approximately 25 seconds from 0-80 km/h. This makes it pretty fast for a 40-ton GVW.”
What’s special about the design?
The rugged aluminium panel system (ALPAS) means that screwed, lightweight profiles can be used for all superstructure modules. Aluminium elements are connected together with drop forging, resulting in an exceptional bending and torsion resistance.
GRP extinguishing agent tanks are also available, with water/foam contents from 11,000 litres up to 15,000 litres (depending on GVW). One or two foam tanks can be provided as requested.
Other special features include:
• An electrical remote-controlled bumper monitor can provide 1,000 l/min up to 3,800 l/min, controlled by an electronic joy-stick. This monitor offers a throw of 40m up to 65m.
• An onboard pump unit energised by a separate M.A.N. engine. This makes it completely independent of the vehicle engine. Pump performance varies from 6,000 l/min up to 10,000 l/min, with an optional high pressure unit offering 300 l/min at 40 bar.
• An onboard overheat prevention water-curtain system in the form of a seven-nozzle self-protection unit offering a performance of approximately 400 l/min.
• The Trokomat Plus double piston priming system is complemented by an automatic flow controlled pump proportioner MAD/EAD with proportioning rates adjustable by remote control.
• A rapid intervention unit water/foam with GRP reels offers a swivelling range of 90°.
The unit’s specially-designed superstructure provides easy access for repair and service, with large maintenance flaps. Roller shutters and a fold-down treadboard also feature at the rear.
Joerg explains: “The ALPAS vehicle has a large cab for a crew of 1+2 or 1+3. Large windows ensure excellent viewing angles for the driver and for extinguishing actions. There are fold-down treadboards to ensure optimum entry into the cab for firefighters. All seats are air-cushioned, have headrests and integrated three-point safety belts. It really is state-of-the-art!”

ALPAS now has a RHINO
An electro-hydraulic RHINO bumper monitor is fully manoueverable, while a roof monitor offers a performance of 5,000 l/min up to 6,000 l/min, also controlled by an electronic joy-stick. This provides a throw of between 75m up to 90m.
Sophisticated electronic controls via PLC with CAN-Bus networking, control the extinguishing unit. “The high automation ensures a safe and faultless operation in extreme situations,” says a Ziegler spokesman.
The vehicle features one of CRASH RESCUE’s elevated extendable extinguishing arm SNOZZLE units, capable of reaching approx. 15 m, with a swivelling arc to the left and right of 30°. Nozzles for extinguishing can provide 4,800 l/min.
The piercing nozzle can deliver 1,000 l/min, while combined water/foam/DC nozzles are mounted on all monitors and on the extinguishing arm.
DC extinguishing units are available from 250 kg up to 1,000 kg, low or high pressure units as required. CO2 extinguishing units from 60 kg up to 360 kg are also available with rapid intervention units. This is a vehicle which has everything!
More information? Visit: www.ziegler.de
Rosenbauer’s new CL  approach
Rosenbauer’s new CL-TSF portable pump vehicle, based on the new MB Sprinter 311 CDI 4x2, has a crew cabin which is integrated into the superstructure, making it roomy enough to accommodate the following crew: 1 + 5 (2+2+2).
They are protected by two 3-point safety belts for driver, co-driver and seats which face forwards. There are two SCBA fixtures facing forward and two additional fixtures stored in the cabin
A Rosenbauer central electrical control system with switch panel for beacons, horn, strobes, ambient lighting and traffic direction unit has also been installed.
Gerda Königstorfer, company spokesperson, points out some special features for IFJ: “The first thing you’ll notice is that the superstructure features sandwich sheets and a stable transverse sandwich wall for the safe separation of the cabin from the equipment compartment at the rear. You’ll also see the superstructure is made up self-supporting, laser-cut aluminium pieces.”
Despite space being tight, the designers have managed to incorporate a FOX portable pump with 1,600 l at 8 bar, which is mounted on a pull-out with rotating platform. “This is in an ideal position,” points out Gerda.
“Two removable walls at the rear of the vehicle facilitate the ergonomic removal of the equipment without a great deal of strain.” More information? Visit: www.rosenbauer.com
Plastisol - GRP bodywork experts
Known around the world as a producer of composite bodywork for cabins, crew-cab extensions and superstructures involving fire and rescue vehicles, Plastisol has put much effort into a portfolio which includes airport crash-tenders, ambulances and rapid intervention vehicles. 
Plastisol’s GRP material is a maintenance-free combination of polyester reinforced with glass-fibre, offering considerable advantages: shock-absorbancy, flame-retarding qualities, extreme corrosion-resistance and a 40% weight reduction over steel. All products are delivered with a unique 10-year warranty.
In excess of 90% of Plastisol’s output is exported all over the world. In the Netherlands Plastisol provides more than 50% of all GRP-based firefighting vehicles sold. The maintenance-free final product has a much longer economic life-cycle (approx. 40 years) than many conventionally produced products, so the Plastisol bodywork already brings little environmental damage with it.
Plastisol introduced a new superstructure called the TZine at Interschutz 2005: this incorporates structural advantages such as integrated C-profiles and cable tubes resulting in flat and smooth internal walls, fall-down steps with integrated corner rubbers and lights, integrated ladder recesses and various illumination options.
The TZine can be built to a standard range of length and width options. The benefit of this concept is the reduced engineering time, which, in combination with the new highly efficient assembly technology, results in a considerably shorter delivery time.
Plastisol has become one of the market leaders in the design, engineering, construction and manufacturing of composite bodywork for specialist vehicles for industry.
Plastisol offers a wide range of standard products. For existing cabins (from well-known manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, MAN and DAF) Plastisol has developed a cabin extension which follows the design characteristics of the original cabin. More info? Visit: www.plastisol.com
Strikers at Atlanta Airport
For the past six month five Striker ARFF vehicles from the Oshkosh Truck Corporation have been operating in the US at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. 
In addition to the five Strikers now in service, five more are on order and are due to be delivered in 2007. “Hartsfield-Jackson’s decision to choose the Striker vehicle was a strong vote of confidence in our products and our people,” said Wilson Jones, Oshkosh’s vice president and general manager, ARFF business unit. “We’re very excited to provide the world’s most advanced fire and emergency protection at this tremendous facility.”
“The five vehicles in service are identical Striker 3000 ARFF all-wheel-drive trucks,” reports Wilson.
“All are equipped with a 3,000 gallon/11,356 liter water tank, TAK-4(r) independent suspension, roof turret, high volume-low attack bumper turret, twin 500 lb./225 kg. dry chemical fire suppression system and rear vision cameras.”
The Striker vehicle is available in 4x4, 6x6 and 8x8 configurations to carry up to 4,500 gallons (17,034 litres) of water and additional fire suppression agent.  It combines a smooth, stable ride and exceptional mobility.  The visibility is unmatched with almost 80 square feet of glass.  The static side slope stability for all models is at least 30 degrees. More info? Visit: www.oshkoshtruck.com
New chassis ideas from Pierce
Hailing it as a ‘unique development’, Pierce Manufacturing Inc., one of the USA’s leading manufacturers of fire and rescue vehicles believes its two new custom chassis - the Velocity and Impel really do feature five significant improvements ‘never seen before’.
“Five areas set the Velocity and Impel chassis apart from any other custom chassis in the industry - these design enhancements were made in response to specific requests by firefighters as to what they want to have in their truck,” John Randjelovic, president of Pierce Manufacturing, told IFJ. “Our objective is the safety and comfort of firefighters - and this new chassis takes it to the next level.”
The 2007 engine requirements have meant an increase in size so chassis manufacturers needed to increase the size of the engine tunnel, which ultimately means less room in the cab. Pierce Manufacturing, however, has used every inch of space in the 100” wide cab to ensure that the occupants would have the most head, leg, shoulder and hip room available. The driver also has optional adjustable foot pedals to allow for the right fit and a comfortable driving position.
The 100” wide cab provides best-in-class seating room as the engine has moved forward 7”, which increases rear occupant foot room. In addition, the cab is 3” taller than previous offerings which increases head height clearance. The cab is spacious with room for up to 10 occupants in the Velocity, and eight in the Impel. The dash and instrument panel feature a new LCD screen for text messaging displays. On the officer’s side, there is an optional electronic control panel.
“The industry’s widest doors - both front (43”) and rear (38”) - have extra large interior and exterior door handles that can be easily gripped by gloved hands, which make vehicle entry and exit safer and quicker. A lower rear cab floor with two-step entry and a flat floor in the outboard position eliminate internal or recessed step wells and a third step so it’s safer and more comfortable for entry and exit,” John reports.
In addition to all of these other enhancements, the Velocity and Impel chassis have a redesigned HVAC system with improved controls and better airflow to provide greater comfort and reduce stress. The HVAC system includes a six percent higher capacity (49k BTU), dual controls, a ceiling-mounted AC and floor-mounted heaters (36k BTU ea.).
These features result in faster on-scene fire fighter recovery and rehabilitation, enhanced environmental comfort and reduced installation costs, says John. The PS6 seats are also part of the side roll protection that Pierce offers on its custom chassis. They incorporate a roll sensor that monitors the movement of your rig. When it senses an imminent roll, it automatically kicks in occupant protection devices including a seat belt pretensioner and seat lowering system, along with the side air curtains and air bags.
Sitting on 13 3/8-inch frame rails – said to be the largest, strongest and stiffest in the industry – Velocity and Impel chassis transmit less stress to the fire body. These frame rails reduce wear and tear, enhance longevity and provide smoother ride quality. The frame rails support a two-piece clamping system with three designated sections to house the electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic wires, harnesses and components, making access and maintenance faster and easier.
Pierce’s exclusive TAK-4(r) independent front suspension with a heavy-duty class 8 design experiences fewer problems over the life of the truck. According to Pierce this suspension increases maneuverability, improves emergency stopping distances, improves handling and lowers the cost of ownership by cushioning onboard equipment. Pierce’s Command Zone advanced electronics provide easy access to breakers, fuses and solid state modules, and offers Mission Critical Logic to keep equipment functioning in the event of a module failure during critical operations. More info? Visit: www.piercemfg.com
Slide and tilt - from GSF
And finally... GSF’s slide and tilt mechanism the UK’s only custom – built ball bearing telescopic slide in the country – has won the UK’s prestigious 2006 Lord Staffordshire award for achievement in innovation.
Based in Shropshire, GSF’s breakthrough is used in fire and rescue vehicle equipment stowage as well as military vehicles.  Simple as it is, this innovation helps shave crucial seconds off rescue and emergency operations thereby saving lives.
 “We’re delighted!  Many thanks to Wolverhampton University and Polymer training’s innovative designs that has allowed GSF to make a more cost effective, lighter and yet stronger mechanism for our customers,” said GSF’s Jeremy Billington. More info: www.gsfslides.com

  • Operation Florian

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