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What vehicle(s) to choose?

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  • What vehicle(s) to choose?

    we are a small backwoods volunteer firedepartment, still in the stage of formation. (since march)
    *7 volunteers (one city boy, experienced in rescue and structural fires, and 6 red necks nearly through the firefighter 1 course)
    *no firehouse yet
    *permission to commandeer an old truck with a 5000 gallons semi-tanktrailer with pump
    *a rented 4x4 minibus
    *second hand basic personal protection outfit
    *some B and C hoses and a small portable pump
    *a 5 gallon waterbackpack and two arms full of shovels rakes and the like

    after this, do i have to mention, that funds are a little short?

    now we have to decide, what kind of vehicle we should buy.

    we are in a semi desert zone. about 30 to 40 rainy days a year.
    nature is flatland, 90% low bush, the rest natural grass.
    low population density, dirt(clay)roads.
    next firedepartment is about 20 miles to the north. south and west our district theoretically stretches till the countries border. about 150 miles...

    the last structural fire we had in our district was about ten years ago.
    most buildings are one-storey and have big underground drinkingwater storage, that we can use.
    grass and bushfires we had 10 since march.
    the biggest about 300 acres at full blaze, when we reached the site with 6 volunteers at 9:45 pm.
    the tanktruck and the minibus could not be brought nearer than about half a mile to the fire.
    after evaluating the scene we called in a motorgrader and started to fight the fire on foot.
    it took about two hours, till the grader was on scene and had started to make an circular "highway" around the burning acres for the watertruck.
    from there we fought the fire inside the ring and the fresh fires outside caused by sparks.(stop and go, hose-lenght between 10 foot and 250 foot)
    when the wind got so strong, that sparks flew up to a distance of three hundred foot, we called the neighbour firedepartment to help.
    they helped us with their old german 4x4 firetruck (600 gallons) and nine firefighters - half of them with 2 1/2 gallon water backpacks - for three hours, till the worst was over.
    well, not to write a full book, we could withdraw after 17 hours.
    result: the adjoining 3000 acres of pasture saved
    prize: one firefighter out of service after two hours, one after ten hours. both with raw feet (they were barefoot in their gumboots... remember we are new to the job...) four (plus one civil driver), who went on the full 17 hours, one with bloody feet (barefoot in boots) and one with overstretched tendons (prairiehoundhole).
    one pinched tire on the truck and one broken weeldisc on the minibus.
    we had to refill our truck once (about 7000 gallons used)
    the neighbour department filled up thrice (about 1700 gallons used)

    so after this (too) long introduction back to my question:
    the big truck can not reach everywhere, but it got a comfortable amount of water.
    the original firetruck is better, but slow.
    being short on personnel, firefighting on foot, without a vehicle nearby, seems tiring and ineficient to me.

    since we will get the watertruck as donation, once the roadmaintenance gets a new one, we will have water a plenty.
    so what should i aim for?
    a regular firetruck, or two bigger 4x4 pickups, to be fitted with 250 gallon tanks, a portable pump and quick-attack hoses?

    i will be gratefull for every advice or shared experience.

    sierts

  • #2
    Originally posted by sierts View Post
    we are a small backwoods volunteer firedepartment, still in the stage of formation. (since march)
    *7 volunteers (one city boy, experienced in rescue and structural fires, and 6 red necks nearly through the firefighter 1 course)
    *no firehouse yet
    *permission to commandeer an old truck with a 5000 gallons semi-tanktrailer with pump
    *a rented 4x4 minibus
    *second hand basic personal protection outfit
    *some B and C hoses and a small portable pump
    *a 5 gallon waterbackpack and two arms full of shovels rakes and the like

    after this, do i have to mention, that funds are a little short?

    now we have to decide, what kind of vehicle we should buy.

    we are in a semi desert zone. about 30 to 40 rainy days a year.
    nature is flatland, 90% low bush, the rest natural grass.
    low population density, dirt(clay)roads.
    next firedepartment is about 20 miles to the north. south and west our district theoretically stretches till the countries border. about 150 miles...

    the last structural fire we had in our district was about ten years ago.
    most buildings are one-storey and have big underground drinkingwater storage, that we can use.
    grass and bushfires we had 10 since march.
    the biggest about 300 acres at full blaze, when we reached the site with 6 volunteers at 9:45 pm.
    the tanktruck and the minibus could not be brought nearer than about half a mile to the fire.
    after evaluating the scene we called in a motorgrader and started to fight the fire on foot.
    it took about two hours, till the grader was on scene and had started to make an circular "highway" around the burning acres for the watertruck.
    from there we fought the fire inside the ring and the fresh fires outside caused by sparks.(stop and go, hose-lenght between 10 foot and 250 foot)
    when the wind got so strong, that sparks flew up to a distance of three hundred foot, we called the neighbour firedepartment to help.
    they helped us with their old german 4x4 firetruck (600 gallons) and nine firefighters - half of them with 2 1/2 gallon water backpacks - for three hours, till the worst was over.
    well, not to write a full book, we could withdraw after 17 hours.
    result: the adjoining 3000 acres of pasture saved
    prize: one firefighter out of service after two hours, one after ten hours. both with raw feet (they were barefoot in their gumboots... remember we are new to the job...) four (plus one civil driver), who went on the full 17 hours, one with bloody feet (barefoot in boots) and one with overstretched tendons (prairiehoundhole).
    one pinched tire on the truck and one broken weeldisc on the minibus.
    we had to refill our truck once (about 7000 gallons used)
    the neighbour department filled up thrice (about 1700 gallons used)

    so after this (too) long introduction back to my question:
    the big truck can not reach everywhere, but it got a comfortable amount of water.
    the original firetruck is better, but slow.
    being short on personnel, firefighting on foot, without a vehicle nearby, seems tiring and ineficient to me.

    since we will get the watertruck as donation, once the roadmaintenance gets a new one, we will have water a plenty.
    so what should i aim for?
    a regular firetruck, or two bigger 4x4 pickups, to be fitted with 250 gallon tanks, a portable pump and quick-attack hoses?

    i will be gratefull for every advice or shared experience.

    sierts
    Seeing your demographic and location, I would definitely lean towards the light and fast rig. A 4x4 truck will get you where you need to be.

    I would also invest money in some moleskin and decent boots to prevent future foot accidents

    But don't count on my opinion by all means.

    Comment


    • #3
      What about considering ATVs? Small, could be equiped to carry equipment and small amounts of water. With flat land training shouldn't be much of an issue. Might think of side-by-side units were a driver could drive and a passenger could handle hose or water operations. Would require another means of transporting to the scene, pickup or pickup with trailer. Two units working in tandem, followed by individuals with rakes, backpack pumps, and scouts to check line, should be able to cover a lot of line. ATVs may have a limited water supply, but it used properly a small amount can go a long ways. Turn around time for ATVs to refill would be shorter than walking back to the water supply.

      H

      Comment


      • #4
        You might want to contact you state Department of Forestry, they generally have access to the FEPP (Federal Excess Property Program) that can get your department surplus military vehicles (6x6s, pickups) pumps, tanks, hoses, sometimes even protective equipment and firefighting vehicles
        "If you can't be a good example, the you'll just have to be a terrible warning."

        Comment


        • #5
          What about something like this?

          http://ssfire.com/Apparatus/apparatusDetail.cfm?aid=7

          Comment


          • #6
            ideas.

            We use Ford F450's with extra-cab (not-crew-cab) and utility box for tools, saw, etc. We put a 200 gallon/10 gallon foam tank slip in unit. It is light small and 4x4. We also put a warn 15K winch on front, which has saved our rear ends more than once. Sounds like you need something that will cost very little. Check state surplus for a chasis and then state forestry and try to find just a tank with maybe a hose reel, you can add a pump if it has a bad one. You can do it cheaply, it just takes time. Also with limited financing you need to invest time with AFG funding, espically get someone who has some ecperience with this. Good luck.

            Comment


            • #7
              Been Here and you can do this. First get the idea of a New F-550 S&S Type 6, out of your head until you have done some looking around. But don't worry you can get them too, just have to work a lil' Harder!

              The State, and Federal agency's will be a Big help hit them up First and for most, Federal execess programs will be able to hook you up with a lot for next to nothing.

              Remember that Equpiment is nothing unless you have the PPE too! Talk to the state and Fed's about that too.
              Courage, Being Scared to Death and Saddling Up anyways.

              Comment


              • #8
                He is in Paraguay. FEPP/state forestry isn't going to be the solution.

                Comment


                • #9
                  You need a 4 x 4 in my opinion. I'd think along the lines of 300-500 gallons. Water supply isn't your problem--access to the fire is. Outfit it yourselves, keep it simple. You can even put a nice firepump on it for the occassional car fire or house fire.

                  I wouldn't worry too much about trying to get a "real" fire engine yet...doesn't sound like you've got many structure fires AND you have to go a long way to get there, so you probably won't get to do a lot of agressive interior attacks.

                  Sounds like you guys would also benefit from a Wildland Firefighting course. Here in Oklahoma, we have a 16 hour course that would be great. I somehow doubt that it's available in Paraguay.

                  You guys would probably benefit from learning how to set backfires with a drip torch and doing some indirect attacks (like having the grader come in and cut a line around the fire perimeter).

                  I'm all about walking the fireline when possible and making an agressive attack, but in your situation, it might not be that feasible on anything than just a small fire. With the nearest mutual aid 20 miles away, you guys are going to have to pace yourself until help can arrive.

                  I was around when we formed our department, and it's lots of work. Good luck an keep us updated. You might want to post something over in the Volunteer Forum as well.
                  Bryan Beall
                  Silver City, Oklahoma USA

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I would invest in a simple pickup truck with a slip on or build your own pump/tank.

                    Your brush fires, what kind of fuels? Perhaps a tractor/plow with a trailer would be a good alternative or additional piece of equipment.

                    http://dnr.wi.gov/forestry/fire/images/tps.jpg

                    With these large grassfires, you're better off cutting a fireline and backfiring the remainder of the field. It's an advanced procedure, but as long as you have good fireline cut with the tractor/plow and established safety zone/escape routes, you should be able to do it.

                    As for structural, can you work with one of the city departments to get a hand-me-down (used) fire engine?
                    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

                    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

                    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'll agree with ChiefKN. Grassfire seems to be your greatest risk? Go for the commercial 4x4 with a slip-on tank/pump unit. If you can stretch to a couple of those it'd be good. However, if you can lay your hands on a larger 4x4 truck, around the 10 to 15 tonne range, you could fit a larger water tank and pump, and that type of unit can double for the odd structure fire as well as having a much greater impact on a grassfire. But it's all down to how much money and what's available.

                      Have a look here http://api.ning.com/files/kxBc-aOS0p.../4WDTanker.jpg and you'll see what I mean about the larger 4x4. It's the general sort of vehicle we use for wildfire in Australia.
                      "Professional" means your attitude to the job...

                      Nullus Anxietas ..... (T Pratchett)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        well guys here in Portugal in the department i work we have allot wild fires the cars we most use here are:
                        Mercedes Unimog
                        http://lh3.ggpht.com/_HwPb66PFtO8/Rk.../P8060146k.jpg

                        Renault
                        http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v3...varios1022.jpg

                        MAN
                        http://www.bombeiros-portugal.net/images/album/829.jpg

                        IVECO
                        http://www.bombeiros-portugal.net/images/album/6048.jpg

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          thank you all for your informations!

                          sorry, that i did not answer earlyer. got lots of problems, that were very time-consuming.

                          Ticonderoga,
                          yes, i bought moleskin shirts and trousers for wildfire and rescue work.
                          concerning the boots i went the cheap way: for every work, save structural, i allowed to use private boots, if they meet certain standards (steel caps and high enough).

                          Hickman35,
                          ATV? if you mean those fourweeled motobikes, i don't think, that they would be for us.
                          some ranchers tried them to replace horses, horsecarts or weeled farm tractors for moving personel, but they are not for our wildland.
                          they are so low, that one catches every thornbranch. and we got more plants with thorns, than without.
                          and... there are no individuals avayable to form lines.

                          Gnufsh,
                          thanks for showing me something to dream about...

                          firebill911,
                          where are you? what kind of terrain do you use the F450s in?

                          Bushwhacker,
                          i don't have any ideas about anything new in my head. we bought new bandages and latexgloves for rescue. everything else is second or third hand stuff. including PPE.
                          posted some pics for a british firefighter, so he could give me addresses for needed spare parts. here:
                          http://bomberos-neuland.org/


                          neiowa,
                          right. only help, we can get down here is the national firefighters federation. they receive donations from abroad, and sell them for the transport costs to the associated firedepartments.


                          SilverCity4,
                          that we need 4x4 is clear. the big question is the best size. 300 to 500 gallos means a truck. with a truck on our dirtroads we could travel at about 50 miles per hour.
                          200 or 250 gallons would be a bigger pickup. that could travel up to 75 miles per hour.
                          so we could double the territory, that we could cover in reasonable time.
                          but even with two pickups we could not transport as much equipment, as we could with one truck.
                          a partly equipped firetruck from england or germany age over 35 years, mileage below 20,000 miles would cost us about 25,000$ including transport.
                          for the same money we could get two not equipped ten year old US or japanese pickups with about 100,000 miles on the clock.
                          as the promise to donate us a tanker semitrailer truck was broken, i am thinking about a third line: buying a used milk-collector 4x2 truck from the dairy processing plant (about 2000 gallons) and outfit that for structural firefighting and as water-backup for one pickup.
                          a Wildland Firefighting course - we started a little late. a year and a half ago some NGOs organized a course with teachers from abroad.
                          if they don't repeat that, we allways can participate at courses in argentina, chili or brazil. (same goes for firecontainer training)
                          meanwhile we beg around for free written or filmed material for auto-studying (hint, hint...)
                          but taking an educational vacation in the US is out of question, while we still need our money to upgrade our PPEs and other equipment to at least the standards from thirty years ago.

                          "You might want to post something over in the Volunteer Forum as well."
                          maybe i will do just that, ranting about withheld material, stolen firefighters and the like.


                          ChiefKN,
                          if you want to get an impression of the land, have a look here:
                          http://neuland-paraguay.net/album1/
                          (the pics were taken for the interesting cloudformations, but at the moment i have got no better pics online)
                          the wildfires normally start in the gras, often by old natives, who use smoke, when they get honey from wild bees.
                          grasses are mostly buffalo gras, stargras and green panic.
                          that alone is no problem. at most ranches they got (weeled)tractors with disc plows. making a line of about ten paces broad and burning against the wind, that the big fire does not find anymore fuel, normally does it.
                          but the fires get nasty, where the brush has been shoved together in rows, to be burned later. many ranches are still in the pioneering stage, so there are many such pastures with rows of dry wood between the gras. (normally they burn the dry wood in the wet season, when the green gras does not catch the fire)
                          then all it needs is a little wind. and it is windy down here. up to fourty miles counts as normal.

                          "work with one of the city departments to get a hand-me-down (used) fire engine?"
                          as far as i know, in the whole country is not even one fire-engine, that is not handed down from somewhere abroad.
                          save at the only international airport. their machines are only about ten years old.
                          there is even at least one worldwar2 british military-firetruck, that is still in use in one of the cities.


                          volfirie,
                          i've been after something similar to the truck on your pic for the last two years.
                          there was a japanese donation program for used comunity material.
                          but i was late. no more chance.


                          portugues,
                          lately i am thinking about an agricultural Unimog. putting a 1000 liter/250 gallon tank on it, a disc-harrow (rastra) at the back and a shield at front. might be good for wildland use.



                          well, again thanks to all, who gave me their points of view.
                          i will have plenty of time to think about it.
                          the administration of our owerpowering coop decided to withdraw the permit to use their tank truck and their grader. they forbid the four volunteers, who are their employees, to leave their work for firefighting.
                          so now we are down to a firedepartment of two... without watertransport.
                          they plan to make an industrial firebrigade.
                          so the volunteer firedepartment (in formation) and i are going into hibernation, till they find out, that volunteers will be cheaper.
                          i am used to waiting. it is now over ten years, that i try to get the local volunteer firedepartment up and running.

                          thanks, Detlef Sierts

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Seirts, I've been reading a lot of threads on this forum for a while, but your post made me register. I'm chief of a small volunteer fire department in central Texas. Most of our responses each year are wildland fires. We are understaffed and under-funded. Our operations rely on a yearly fundraiser that brings in about $5000 and any grants we are lucky enough to receive. Our response area is farming/ranching country, fairly flat for the most part. Sounds a lot like the area you are serving.

                            Our firefighting fleet has grown over the years. We used to just have two one-ton pick-up trucks with water tanks on them. Our fleet now is: 1986 F350, 2006 F-450, 1975 Ford pumper/tanker, 1970 Kaiser 6x6 brush truck, 1950 (yes that's right)Kaiser 6x6 1200 gallon tanker. One of the small trucks is our first out, followed by the 6x6 brush truck, then either another brush truck or tanker, depending on the situation. The small trucks are a little quicker to the scene, but the 6x6 can go where the small ones can't even think about going.

                            At the risk of starting another debate on whether to ride or not ride on a brush truck, I'll post a couple of photos.



                            This truck carries 350 gallons of water, has an 18 hp 120 gpm pump and a Cascade Foam-Flo Class A foam system. It has two 45 gpm TFT nozzle whip lines in the wells behind the cab and a 100 foot booster reel on the back.



                            This truck carries 950 gallons of water, has a 21 hp 180 gpm pump and a Cascade Foam-Flo Class A foam system. It also has two 45 gpm TFT nozzle whip lines located behind the cab (my wife showing the left postition), a 1 1/2 inch 120 gpm whip line, and 100 feet of 1 1/2 inch hose preconnected to be pulled from the rear of the truck.



                            This is our pumper/tanker. We bought it used in 2000. It originally belonged to the Orange Village, Ohio fire department. It carries 2500 gallons of water and has a 1000 gpm pump.

                            I don't have any photos to post of our 2006 brush truck, but it was designed a lot like the small one above, except that is has an extended cab and a poly tank of 350 gallons and a Scotty around the pump foam system.

                            I hope these give you some ideas. If you have any questions of me, just ask.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Since I originally posted here, I have had time to up-load some more photos of our trucks. Sorry, lighting wasn't so great in some pics.



                              Rear view of the '86 Ford showing pump and associated equipment. The two storage boxes were the original fire-fighting positions. The back end of a truck was found to be extremely rough-riding so when we rebuilt the unit the wells were moved to the front and the old ones were enclosed for storage. We devised a foam system that doesn't require a dedicated foam tank. Foam is pulled directly from the 5 gallon container it came in. Large black box carries a chainsaw, along with it's gas and oil. Cooler carries water and Gatorade. Two-ten foot sections of hard suction and a floating strainer are on top of the tank as well.



                              Left firefighting well. Two whip lines are located here. We also carry a 20 pound class A/B fire extinguisher and a 20 pound CO2 extinguisher.



                              Rear view of our 6x6. Two-ten foot hard suctions and strainer carried under a swing-up walk-way on the left side. Underneath the top-mounted gas tank is a small panel with a work light, pressure guage, and foam controls. The network of piping is plumbed so that the top-most pipe passes through the tank to supply water to the firefighting positions behind the cab. Next down is the tank fill, next below that is the preconnected 1 1/2. Laid out next to it is 200 feet of 2 1/2 hose for water supply.



                              Another view of the plumbing. The large white vertical 'pipe' is actually a home-made foam tank: a section of 6 inch PVC pipe. The cap on top screws off to re-fill the tank. It holds about 5.5 gallons of class A foam. Visible under the pump intake is our primer pump. It is a 5 gpm diaphram pump. We can get a draft in about 45 seconds through the two sections of hard suction using it. The switch is on the panel where the foam controls are located.



                              Two 2 1/2 inch direct fills. They can also be used as dump valves during water shuttle operations. If you back up to a folding tank and open all three valves on the rear of the tank you can empty it in about 2.5 minutes.



                              Front bumper area of the 6x6. The front bumper is a piece of 10 inch channel iron connected to the original front bumper with two pieces of 6 inch I-beam. The area between the I-beams carries our chainsaw, it's gas (in a safety can) and oil, as well as a lug wrench for the truck. The toolbox under the cab carries hose adapters, spare nozzles, and a length of chain to remove rocks from between the tires.

                              Comment

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