Ideally, an airport fire vehicle should be capable of carrying a large load at relatively high speed, while demonstrating an excellent degree of stability and manoeuvrability. This is a considerable technical challenge; one that has been repeatedly addressed by a number of manufacturers, who continue to refine their products. In addition, airports operating commercial services have to meet certain regulatory requirements covering standards, recurrent training, suitable training facilities and equipment requirements that include water/foam supply, delivery systems and minimum response times.
The ITURRI Group offers a range of products and services including fire fighting and rescue vehicles, fire fighting clothing, fire fighting footwear, personal protective equipment, rescue equipment and extinguishers, training and preparation, after-sales service, consultancy and clothing. Its vehicles are adapted to the specific requirements of each airport, from ICAO categories 1 to 10. On-board features exceed those stipulated by ICAO, NFPA and CAP168 international regulations, while a wide variety of options ensure customer satisfaction by catering to individual requirements.
The TORO 4x4 · VIM 61 MTEC 454 is the most compact of its range, measuring 8.9m in length, 2.55m in width and 3.6m in height. All-terrain capabilities are enhanced by its exclusive hydraulic suspension and automatic tyre deflation systems. It has the capacity to store 6,100 litres of water, 800 litres of foam and 250 kg of chemical powder. Acceleration is from 0 to 80 km/h in 24 seconds, reaching a maximum of 125 km/h. Chassis design has been based on a MAN chassis, making maintenance easy and economical.
The larger TORO 6x6 · VIM 120 MTEC 670 offers a large extinguishing capacity of 12,000 litres of water, 1,500 litres of foam and 250 kg of chemical powder. It is said to offer maximum stability with a roll over angle of 32º, in comparison to the regulation requirement of 28º.
Rosenbauer likes to emphasise the ruggedness of its air crash tenders, with an ability to rapidly drive over small obstacles, such as fences and hedges, while traversing difficult ground at over 100 km/h. This is the reason the company uses not only standard chassis but also military and special variants for its air crash tenders, to be capable of meeting the highly selective demands made by international airports.
In January 2012, Glasgow became the first airport in Scotland to take delivery of a new Rosenbauer CA5 Panther fire appliance. The new Panthers, which are manufactured in Austria, before being delivered to Glasgow, will form the centrepiece of the airport’s fleet of fire appliances. Glasgow Airport’s second appliance will arrive in June 2012 with the third arriving in early 2013. The 34 tonne vehicles can carry 13,000 litres of water and 1,600 litres of foam and can accelerate from 0 to 80km/h in less than 32 seconds. Glasgow Airport’s fire service fleet consists of five major foam tenders, two medium foam tenders and two shoguns.
Southampton Airport is another UK airport that has chosen two Rosenbauer Panther 6x6 vehicles, which have a lifespan of around 20 years and represent an investment of over 1 million Euros by the Airport. The vehicles use three Caterpillar C18 diesel engines, which meet strict European environmental standards and are more efficient than the 20-year old vehicles they replaced. Other new technological benefits include infrared to help with locating objects in reduced visibility, i.e. fog, 80m hose reels and cab operated foam monitors which can be used whilst in motion.
Earlier this year saw the handover of the 1,000th Panther to London-Stansted Airport (Panther 6x6) and the 1,001st, which was delivered to Doha Airport.
In the United States, The Oshkosh Airport Group, a division of Oshkosh Corporation, is a designer and builder of airport fire fighting vehicles, its flagship being the Striker Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) vehicle. The new generation Striker features advanced safety systems and delivers innovative fire suppression technology, high chassis performance, reliability and durability. The 6x6 axle configuration, with Oshkosh TAK-4 all-wheel independent suspension and Oshkosh rear-steering system, offers a smooth ride and excellent off-road capabilities. The 700HP, Tier 4i/Euro 5 emissions compliant turbo-charged engine is combined with a 7-speed, electronic, automatic transmission for smooth power delivery and a top speed greater than 70 mph (113 km/h). The engine power pack components are readily accessed through walk-in doors, on either side of the engine compartment, for ease of servicing.
Last February, it was announced that a new generation Oshkosh Striker ARFF vehicle had entered service at Roberts Field, Redmond Municipal Airport (RDM) in Redmond, Ore. This vehicle is the first production model of the all-new Striker design.
With the Dragon 2 model series, IVECO MAGIRUS has introduced a new generation of airport fire-fighting vehicles. Innovative, all-new concepts specifically developed for the chassis, drive train, extinguishing technology, control system and design result in a range of vehicles that can do more than ever before. In keeping with Company philosophy, this solution has been developed in-house and is produced using a ‘one-stop-shop’ approach. The result is a modular system that makes it possible to create different configurations and drive variants that include a 4x4, 6x6 and 8x8 chassis.
The SuperDragon 2 (8X8) features a rear engine, rigid-axle suspension and coil springs. Acceleration is from 0 – 80 km/h < 25 seconds with a maximum speed of 135 km/hr. Maximum capacities are water 14,000 - 17,000 litres, foam 1,500 - 2,500 litres and dry powder 500 - 1,000 kg.
Also in Italy, BAI manufactures a number of specialised airport vehicles, including the VSA range featuring 4x4 and 6x6 versions. Typically, the VSA 10.500 S/DP250 model is based on a Mercedes Benze Actros 3358 6x6 chassis and powered by a 425kW engine. Storage capacities are 10,000 litres water, 1,200 litres foam and 250kg of dry powder. Bodywork can be fabricated from aluminium or steel.
Lentner offers German efficiency in the form of the impressive Avenger, powered by a 950 horsepower engine giving acceleration from 0 to 80 km/h within 25 seconds, with 38 tons fighting weight. Carrying 12,000 litres of water; 1,440 litres of foam agent and 250kg of dry powder, it is a formidable vehicle. The bodywork is fabricated from GRP that is said to be up to five-times stronger than aluminium and easier to repair. Lentner gives a ten-year warranty for a GRP body.
In August 2011, London Oxford Airport took delivery of a new fire tender supplied by the ITURRI Group of Spain; the £500,000 investment sees the airport use the very latest technologies available for its rescue and fire services. In a recent interview with Airside International, Airport Manager, Mike Sparrow, shared some of the reasons and background of this purchase.
“It was a replacement for a vehicle we already had that was becoming increasingly costly to maintain. Research into the purchase of a new vehicle proved that the ITURRI solution was the best in terms of value for money. In turn, the manufacturer wished to make an impression on the UK market so both sides were satisfied.”
It is understood that another UK airport has now chosen ITURRI and there are several other tenders in the pipeline.
Mike Sparrow went on to explain: “It was the first ITURRI in the UK and we were keen to focus on a quality product that met our specification. They were very supportive to our needs from day one and proved to be a very good company to deal with. It was delivered close to schedule, with a slight delay being caused by the need to design and provide an external monitor platform on top of the vehicle. This is a unique feature, specific to the UK market, which is mounted just behind the cab, providing the operator an external space to fully view a rapidly changing emergency situation.
The manufacturer was very responsive to teething problems that were quickly dealt with, allowing the vehicle to come on line and we are very, very pleased with it.”
Sparrow likes to emphasise that ITURRI was “willing to listen to our needs and respond in a timely and efficient manner. The result is very modern, 6x 6 vehicle that is fast and carries an excellent load of possible options. We do not have external water plug-in points on the airfield so option capacity is very important to us.”
Airside International suggested that there might be a spares problem? This was met by an emphatic: “No, Spain is not too far away and ITURRI is setting up a spares depot in the UK and already has a facility in Banbury to service the Company’s wide product range of fire fighting apparel and equipment.”
What of the user? Mark Phipps, Chief Fire Officer at the Airport, was involved with the project from the start and was closely involved with the production process. In particular, he highlights the use of an exclusive, recyclable material known as EcoPolyFire used in the bodywork, which has a very high resistance to impact damage. This material prevents rusting and is easier and relatively cheaper to repair than alloy models. Corrosion problems are also much reduced, whether the tank is carrying water, foam, or sand.
This means a lighter vehicle and allows for greater water carriage and improved acceleration. Other innovative details include LED lighting, mounted in the vertical edges of equipment access bays, the use of an individual training tank to avoid wasteful use of resources from the main tanks and a powerful twin head, retractable, lighting structure that illuminates the entire incident area. When in motion, the twin cab access steps retract to reduce overall body width, allowing the vehicle easier access to restrictive roads or lanes.
For the future, Sparrow says he will be “more than happy to standardise the fleet and go with ITURRI again as I have great confidence in the product. Over the next four years, I would like another 6x6 and a Toro 4x4, the latter lending itself better for traversing narrow country lanes.”