Hawaii sharpens up its ARFF fleet

Published:  01 January, 2009

Size can be deceptive. The new Stinger Q4Rapid Intervention Vehicle might look small, but it has been designed to measure itself against giants.

The airport authority of Hawaii is the first airport fire brigade in the world to receive Stinger Q4Rapid Intervention Vehicles. Martinez Jacobs has been Chief of the Hawaiian Airport Fire Authority since 1988, and is extremely excited about these small trucks, which are based on a Ford Super Duty F550 pickup chassis. Oshkosh Corporation and sister company Pierce Manufacturing recently launched these small rapid intervention vehicles.

The Hawaiian Airport Fire Authority presides over a total of 15 airports, of which Honolulu International Airport is the largest at Index E (ICAO Cat 9). The Stinger Q4s, however, are destined for the smaller Index A airports on Maui.

The reason for acquiring the new Stingers lies in the fact that the Federal Airports Authority (FAA) had introduced new regulations for Class III airports. These are airports that serve only scheduled operations of small air carrier aircraft. Consequently, the department had to purchase a fleet that was compliant with this legislation. At the same time the Airports Fire Authority of Hawaii was taking delivery of the last Oshkosh Striker (large capacity crash tender) that was part of an ongoing upgrade programme.

Increased efficiency

Although built for use on small airports, the Stinger Q4 Rapid Intervention Vehicle is also well placed to deal with any larger airport’s rapid intervention requirements. It features two revolutionary new developments in fire suppression, the Pulse Delivery and the QuadAgent system (developed by Colorado-based Advanced Fire Control Technologies). The Stinger Q4 has been designed according to Class 1 and 2 product index ratings.

Long distance deployment

By choosing any of the four agents, water/foam, CAFS, dry-chemical powder or clean agent (Halotron1), QuadAgent attacks all fires and enables suppression and termination. The QuadAgent system allows the deployment of all agents to over 90 feet (27m), keeping firefighters at safe distance from the fire.

The new Pulse Delivery technology enables firefighters to deliver dry chemical powder at long distances in a “dry” form, by producing small packets of powder within the nozzle and propelling them forward at speeds of up to Mach 1. Combined with the nozzle velocity, the packets have enough force to allow the operator to cast dry chemical powder over 90 feet (27m), more than three times the current capability. Not being entrained in the water stream, the dry chemical starts suppression the moment it hits the source of combustion.

Quick attack

The firefighters from the Hawaiian Airport Fire Authority carried out many tests before deciding to acquire the vehicles. Chief Jacobs explains: “We carried out full fire ground tests with these vehicles, and because we’d never had any small rapid intervention trucks before, we also had to re-train our firefighters to carry out ‘quick attack’ firefighting. Quick attack is a new concept and we have integrated this is in our operational plan. This means that the ARFF firefighters assigned to the Stingers will be the first to arrive at the incident, where they assess the scene, and intervene when possible.”

Mighty Mouse

Chief Jacobs’ team really put the trucks through their paces during the test on live kerosene, and running fuel fires. The throw range of the Pulse Delivery system exceeded their expectations.

Additionally, the clean agent on the Stinger was identified as a definite plus for the Hawaiian firefighters, he adds. “The clean agent is a great benefit to us whenever we have an aircraft engine fire. Our personnel really liked the vehicle, and once they found out its capacities, they were just blown away. At first many thought that this vehicle was just too small, but it proved initial preconceptions wrong, and turned out to be a ‘Mighty Mouse’, small but extremely powerful.

“In my 22 years as fire chief, the firefighters have never thanked me for anything, but they thanked me for the Stinger. They have all realised how much this little truck can do. You just have to put in a real emergency situation, to see its full capacity.”

Multi-disciplinary vehicle

The Stinger has been designed in such a way that it can carry all types of different equipment – including medical and rescue kit – whilst maintaining its firefighting power. Chief Jacobs leaves his firefighters free to decide what to put on the trucks themselves, as the requirements differ per airport.

Jacobs is extremely satisfied with the versatility of the vehicles as it enables a wider type of response. In the past the brigade ran large vehicles, and accidents occurred often.
The Chief puts this down to the fact that these larger vehicles were really meant for airports with fewer restrictions. “Now we have a multi disciplinary vehicle which we can go outside the airfield’s boundaries with without having to worry about taking the fence down. We can take the Stingers anywhere, and respond efficiently to any type of incident.”

  • Operation Florian

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