An industrial behemoth

Published:  02 April, 2009

At the Industrial Fire Safety and Security exhibition held in Houston, Texas, AM Knegt saw at first hand one of the largest industrial firefighting vehicles in the world.

The Pierce Mfg-built giant was one of two virtually identical vehicles designed for Lyondellbasell, one of the world’s largest polymers, petrochemicals and fuels companies.  Built on the new Pierce Manufacturing Velocity chassis and featuring a split-tilt cab, these giants are the first industrial trucks based on this type of chassis.

The vehicle on show in Houston featured an enclosed top mount pump panel and a pump built by Hale. The pump has a drafting capacity of 3,000 GPM and a total through-put capacity in excess of 5,000 GPM, said Allen Huelsebusch, industrial sales representative for Pierce Manufacturing and Martin Apparatus. “All the water is taken in on the passenger’s side of the truck, and discharged on the driver’s side. There is also a 5,000 GPM deluge gun on top of the vehicle, which can be controlled from inside the cab or by radio remote control.”  The cab has been designed with all creature comforts including air conditioning and heating, and Huelsebusch adds that whether you are fighting fires in a hot or cold climate this cab design offers the pump operator and a firefighting team a place to cool down or warm up in luxury.

The vehicle comprises Pierce’s Husky 300 foam system and all of the intakes and discharges are plumbed with stainless steel plumbing. The discharges are controlled with the new electronic Elkhart Unibody valves and valves controllers that feature a digital pressure display and valve position status. The truck has a 1,500 gallon Class B foam tank and 500 gallon water tank.

The Lyondellbasell facility has numerous large storage tanks and the vehicle can be used for incidents in process units as well. Huelsebusch adds that the big gun on top of the vehicle is excellent for storage tank fires as well as for incidents within process units.
Huelsebusch believes this vehicle is currently the most advanced industrial vehicle in the southern US. “This is the largest truck I have ever sold, and I have sold a large number of industrial units in my life.”

The truck has a Pierce Tak-4 independent front suspension system which was developed by Pierce and Pierce’s parent company, Oshkosh Truck Corp. The truck also has the Hendrickson FireMax Air-ride suspension on the rear, which translates to a better driving quality for the chassis, improving the functionality of all equipment.  Huelsebusch admits that it was a challenge to keep a truck of this size compliant with all the necessary standards.
“It is completely NFPA-compliant with all the requirements for industrial apparatus. On the second truck there was a bit of a weight issue primarily because it has roll-up doors over the side pump panels which required a slightly different pump module design. We were close to the maximum allowed weight, but were able to keep everything balanced and within our limits. The stainless steel body added some weight, but is ideal for operation in humid climates.”

When a vehicles’ body twists around over the years, it will start to develop cracks in the corners. Pierce has virtually eliminated this process with its own unique way of building vehicles. Pierce bolts carbon steel support members to the chassis frame rails in strategic locations. This process forms an under-slung design. The vehicle’s body is then set upon rubber isolators that are on top of the support structure. This design allows the chassis to flex under the body and that flexing stress is not translated to the body.


The compartments on the vehicle are made out of stainless steel, and inside they feature Pac Trac equipment mounting panels and slide-out trays.This is important for industrial applications, as we have got to make sure that health and safety is guaranteed as per OSHA requirements. We worked on this vehicle with Lyondellbasell for over a year before they finally ordered it, and it took ten months to deliver.”

  • Operation Florian

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