Article Archive
Crash Rescues
Snozzle Meets New Challenge
Vol. 20 No. 5

"It can install on most any vehicle out there without affecting the pump or water tank compartments, hose bed or other things that are typically important to people who are specing a job," North said.

Another holdover from the previous design is that a Snozzle? remains fairly light weight -- about 5,000 pounds.

"It's not near the weight of any other 65 foot aerial device," North said. "It's really a big point because typical of your industrial trucks you want to carry a couple of thousand gallons of foam or other agent. You don't have to sacrifice any payload to put this unit in place. I would say it is 30 to 50 percent lighter than comparable 65-to-75 foot aerial devices."

Beside physical reach, another major improvement in the Snozzle? is the reach of its radio remote control system. All move, nozzle and auxiliary functions can be executed from as far away as 300 feet. Otherwise, the new Snozzle? has all the same effective features as previous units -- infrared and color closed circuit television, piercing nozzles that can penetrate a building and the option to use either dry chemical or a "clean" extinguishing agent such as Halatron.

According to North, the next biggest advance for its crash truck products will be greater use of compressed air foam systems (CAFS). Unlike aspirated nozzles that create finished foam at the working end of the hose, CAFS is produced by combining pressurized air with water and foam concentrate at the unit's pump. When it exits the hose under pressure, the foam has a rich, thick consistency most often compared to shaving cream.

"We use a simplified system with stored air generating the compressed air foam so we don't have to use expensive compressors," North said.

CAFS testing done by the Air Force at Tyndall AFB in Florida and by the Federal Aviation Administration involving petroleum fire, including running fuel fires, demonstrate what is conservatively a four-to-one increase in effective fire suppression, he said.

"So for the same amount of agent that you start out with you can essentially extinguish four times as much fire using CAFS and Hydro-Chem technology," North said. "Williams Fire & Hazard Control is building special nozzles for us that are able to handle compressed air foam without destroying the bubbles while also incorporating the encapsulated dry chemical."

New CAFS technology such as this is why the fire service is seeing a resurgence in use of smaller trucks for fire fighting, North said.

"I can take a 150-to-300 gallon small vehicle and make it work like a 1,200 gallon truck by using compressed air foam," he said. "Our approach on CAFS has been to simplify them. The systems that are out there for large municipal fire departments are extremely complex with air compressors, coolers and complicated pump controls. Using the stored air principle by means of a few 400 cubic foot nitrogen bottles, it's just a matter of flipping a switch."

FAA regulations require any airport handling aircraft that carries more than 15 passengers have a fire fighting vehicle as opposed to just a wheeled unit. This requirement is helping to fuel a renaissance in smaller fire fighting vehicles, North said.

"These smaller trucks with increased performance can respond quickly to handle a larger fire, particularly with the use of compressed air foam," North said. "What this means is a long duration foam blanket with insulating capabilities very important in a fuel spill or vapor situation."

Nearly 75 percent of Crash Rescue's smaller fire fighting vehicles are being equipped with compressed air foam, he said. Many of those trucks are going to the military.

"We've built three P-19s for the Army which have 1,000 gallon tanks with compressed air foam added," North said. "We're doing a similar project for the Air Force that involves 10 trucks."

Those smaller Air Force trucks utilize a combination of CAFS and an ultra high pressure system that combines high pressure with water and aqueous film forming foam (AFFF). Normal fire trucks deliver firefighting agent, including water, at pressures ranging from 100-to-250 psi. Fire trucks with the ultra high pressure systems deliver firefighting agents at 1,500 ppsi.

For the military, the major objective is increased fire fighting capability using a smaller fire fighting package, North said. Beside greater efficiency using less water, high pressure systems offer the further advantage of no environmental issues.

According to an article recently published by AETC News, the high-bypass turbofan engines on the C-17 cost roughly $14 million apiece. Rebuilding one engine after being exposed to AFFF can cost as much as $4 million. In an engine fire attack, high pressure water gives better penetration and better dispersion of water. The addition of a small amount of gaseous clean agent can result in final extinguishment, and limit collateral damage to the engine.?

"The objective of fire suppression for the military is increased fire fighting capability using a smaller package," North said.

At the Interschutz fire trade fair held in June in Hannover, Germany, almost every major fire apparatus manufacturer had some type of high pressure system displayed, North said. That makes high pressure a major new direction for the fire service, he said.

Protecting against aircraft fires has resulted in improvements to other Crash Rescue products. The RMT 2000 (120 gallons) and RMT 4000 (240 gallons) are compressed air foam wheel units that come with a flame detector and automatic oscillating turrets.

"These are being used quite extensively in situations where one automated system is needed in a remote location," North said. "These units can cover a 5,000 feet square area."

Bell Helicopter uses these units extensively throughout their Osprey tilt rotor aircraft plant in Amarillo, TX, North said. A number of military installations are using them as well.

"For example, say you have a facility where aircraft engines are being rebuilt and a 24-hour fire protection system is needed," North said. "However, they either don't have the resources or water supply for a full blown sprinkler system. The RMT systems are the solution."

As with the latest Snozzle, the RMT systems were developed in direct response to the new Airbus A380.

"Airbus was looking for some systems that they could use to provide fire protection on the aircraft as they came out of the assembly area awaiting shipment," North said. "These planes were being stored outside and they wanted some type of automated fire protection system."

Airbus is in the process of evaluating the RMT systems, North said.

Technological progress has long been a driving force in the American economy. Crash Rescue is one company determined to keep up with the expanded opportunities such change presents. o


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