View Mobile Site
 

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos

 

Third type’s the charm

Rugged fire trucks aid

Posted: September 18, 2008 8:48 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.

An all-wheel-drive Type III fire engine gets taken for a test drive, Tuesday afternoon at the Del Valle fire training facility near Castaic.

 

The Los Angeles County Fire Department's new tool in the fight against wildland fires looks like a cross between an ice cream truck and a monster pick-up.

The Type III fire engine is a boxy vehicle with lifted suspension that allows firefighters to get close to wildland infernos, Capt. Scott Polgar said.

The Type III is designed with a shorter wheel base, shorter length, higher clearance and is all-wheel drive allowing the vehicle to go off-road on unpaved roads and deep into area forests, he said.

Fire Station 132 on Sand Canyon Road is one of five stations the state picked to test the new truck, Polgar said. Wildfires in 2003 prompted Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to assign a Blue Ribbon Committee to improve fire fighting. The commission advised the Office of Emergency Services to purchase 150 Type III engines.

Firefighters went through state-certified training to operate the vehicle, Polgar said. In return for the training, the state can call on those firefighters to respond to wildland fires throughout the state, he said.

The Type III is a critical tool during California's year-round fire season, Polgar said. Before California bought the new trucks, firefighters only had two ways to battle back rural blazes.

"We were restricted to fighting a fire from the air or running hoses from engines parked on the few graded unpaved roads in the forest," Polgar said.

That is not an effective way to fight a fire when so much of the wildland terrain doesn't have graded or paved road access, he said.

"You can't completely extinguish a fire from the air. You need to fight it on the ground, too," Polgar said.
Fine fuels and brush continue to burn even after multiple water drops and that's where the Type III comes in handy, he said.

The Type III carries 500 gallons of water, the same as a standard Type I or II fire truck. The difference is the new trucks can go places a standard fire truck can never go, Polgar said. The vehicle can descend and ascend an unpaved 40-degree grade. A type I or II fire truck would tumble down a such a steep grade, he said.

The difference is a spring suspension that keeps the center of gravity low on the Type III trucks, Polgar said.

The Type III trucks cost about $260,000 which is less than the $310,000 it cost for a standard engine, Polgar said. The new trucks will keep the Type I and Type II trucks off back country roads and cut back on wear and tear, he said.

It's been a long wait for the new truck, Polgar said.

"We are really excited about having this piece of equipment," he said.

With the peak of fire season upcoming he is sure the crew will be called into service somewhere in the state.

Comments

Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.

 
 

Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...