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NFPA MUST recognize the Exterior Fire Attack Position

Blanchat is currently working with the NFPA 1906 and 1500 committees to have the Exterior Fire Attack Position recognized in future versions of these standards as a safer method of fighting fast-moving fine fuel fires.

 

UPDATE: The Exterior Fire Attack Position has passed the 1906 committee and will be included in the 2016 NFPA 1906 standard! Additionally, the NFPA 1500 committee is just beginning to review possible revisions to the NFPA 1500 standard. What the NFPA 1500 committee needs most is to hear from you! Visit the NFPA 1500 page below to learn how you can submit your comments and recommendations.

 

NFPA 1906 info

 

NFPA 1500 info

 

Blanchat has been leading the charge to have the NFPA recognize the Exterior Fire Attack Position and has even been featured on the local news during one of the burn demonstrations with NFPA committee members. Featured news clip below.

 

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Go to the news page

The NFPA needs your input!

The NFPA 1500 committee needs to hear your input on why the Exterior Fire Attack Position is important in fine fuel areas! Unfortunately, you must do this via the NFPA website with a unique user name and password. We have created a step by step set of instructions to complete this process.

 

Input must be submitted by the deadline 5/16/2016.

 

Download instructions

Apparatus with an Exterior Fire Attack Position Currently on the Market

These pictures were taken at the TEEX Municipal Vendor Show in College Station, TX. All but two of these trucks have positions behind the cab. One truck has a position on the front bumper and one at the rear of the truck.

 

Current Manufacturers of an Exterior Fire Attack Position

 

Skeeter Brush Trucks (Kirby, Texas)

http://www.skeeterbrushtrucks.com/index.php

http://www.skeeterbrushtrucks.com/owners.php

https://www.facebook.com/skeeterbrushtrucks

 

Wildfire Truck & Equipment Sales (Alvarado, TX)

http://www.brushtruck.com/default.asp

http://www.brushtruck.com/recent.asp

 

Neel Fire (Waco, TX)

http://www.neelfire.com/trucks/wildland.php

 

Midwest Fire (Luverne, MN)

http://midwestfire.com/apparatus/quick-attack/brush-trucks/

http://midwestfire.com/customers/deliveries/?type=Wildland&model=All+Models&style=All+Styles&zip=Zip+Code&radius=&filter=true

 

Hays Fire & Rescue (Hays, KS)

http://www.haysfireandrescue.net/Truck_Gallery_OCWG.php

 

Deep South Fire Trucks (Seminary, MS)

http://deepsouthfiretrucks.com/brush-trucks/

 

Emergency Fire Equipment (Mayfield, KS)

http://www.e-fire.net/home/trucksapparatus.html

 

Maintainer Custom Bodies (Rock Rapids, IA)

http://mcbfire.com/deliveries/quick-attack-george-ia/?recent=1

 

Chief Fire & Safety (Chickasha, OK)

http://www.chieffire-safety.com/deliveries

 

Danko Emergency Equipment (Snyder, NE)

http://www.danko.net/apparatus/flatbed-wildland-attack

http://www.danko.net/apparatus/mega-flatbed-wildland-attack

http://www.danko.net/new-deliveries

 

Unruh Fire (Sedgwick, KS)

http://www.unruhfire.com/brush-trucks/

http://www.brushtrucks.us/

 

Weis Fire & Safety (Salina, KS)

http://weisfiresafety.com/fire-trucks/quick-attack

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Weis-Fire-Safety-Equipment-Company-Inc/164252860263620

 

1st Due (Bartlett, KS)

www.1stdue.com

 

AMI-Fire Equipment (Brenham, TX)

http://www.ami-fire.com/inventory.asp?cat=475

http://www.ami-fire.com/results.asp#mid

 

Daco Fire Equipment (Fort Worth, TX)

http://www.dacofire.com/?q=node/126

 

Steele Fire Apparatus (Haskell, TX)

http://www.sfabrushfiretrucks.com/smbrush.html

http://www.sfabrushfiretrucks.com/lgbrush.html

 

Turnkey Industries (Magnolia, TX)

http://www.tkind.com/emergency-vehicles.html

 

Westex Fire (West, TX)

http://westexfire.com/gallery/2623544

 

1st Attack (Waterloo, IN)

http://1stattack.com/trucks/fire-trucks/

 

Metro Fire (Houston, TX)

http://www.mfas.com/index.php/fire-trucks/arlington3

 

Kyrish Government Group (Killeen, Texas)

http://kyrishgovt.com/brush-truck/

 

Crow Construction (Cashion, OK)

http://www.crowconstruction.com/brushpumper.html

 

J&J Custom Fire (Red Rock, OK)

http://www.jandjcustomfire.com/index.html

http://www.jandjcustomfire.com/galleries/garber.html

http://www.jandjcustomfire.com/galleries/hawley.html

http://www.jandjcustomfire.com/galleries/perry.html

http://www.jandjcustomfire.com/galleries/skedee.html

 

Company Two Fire Apparatus (Varnville, SC)

http://www.companytwofire.com/Public/InventoryVehicle.aspx?id=8112

 

Southeast Apparatus (Corbin, KY)

http://www.southeastapparatus.com/2014-deliveries.html

 

Pierce (Appleton, WI)

http://www.piercemfg.com/en/trucks/federal-government/wildland.aspx

 

Cooper Creek Mfg (Loyal, OK)

http://www.coopercreekmfg.com/index.htm

https://www.facebook.com/CooperCreekMfg

 

Heiman Fire Equipment (Sioux Falls, SD)

http://www.heimanfiretrucks.com/equipment.php?equip=wildland

 

Blanchat Manufacturing (Harper, KS)

http://www.blanchatmfg.com/

http://www.blanchatmfg.com/trucks

 

If Blanchat is building 40 trucks per year with an exterior fire attack position, how many total trucks are being sold in North America with 29+ manufacturers selling the exterior fire attack position on their apparatus?

 

How many of these new exterior fire attack positions are sufficiently safe in the event of an impact or roll-over?

- Greg Blanchat

 

Abilene, TX roll-over

What Fine Fuel Firefighters Say

  • I am the secretary/treasurer and a 14-year member of the Kit Carson Volunteer Fire Department, established by the West Cheyenne Fire Protection District in 1983. Our department is located in Kit Carson, Colorado on the Eastern Plains in Cheyenne County. We are approximately 120 miles East of Denver, Colorado.

     

    Taking away the ability to pump and roll would eliminate our department’s ability to fight grass fires in our area. Our department NEEDS to have this capability, and we have spent a significant amount of time and money to ensure that we have it.

     

    To ensure the safety of our riders, we have replaced two beds on our attack trucks and purchased a brand new rescue/attack truck in 2009 from Blanchat Mfg. Since 2008, our district has spent a total of 6,000.00 in bringing our attack fleet to the safest level possible. This was due in part to NFPA and insurance mandates that no longer supported department built trucks, and they had to be constructed by NFPA certified builders, of which Blanchat is one. Both truck beds and the rescue truck utilize their BATROPS rider area to provide a safe, protected environment for a firefighter to ride in while fighting a grass fire on the Plains of Colorado. Being required to ride in the cab of a truck while fighting a grass fire would be both unsafe and provide very limited knockdown capability toward the fire. I have included with this letter, documentation that we received from Blanchat Mfg that defines the specifications of the safety area of the BATROPS used to house the exterior rider on an attack truck. Our department feels that this system gives us the best protection when engaging a fire in a pump and roll situation.

     

    Remote actuated nozzles do not provide the level of accuracy and control needed to safely engage an active burning grass fire. They are also very expensive to purchase, and require modifying existing connection layouts that were built specifically into the beds that we purchased. Grass fires fueled by high winds can change direction in an instant and the firefighter operating the nozzle on the back of the truck must be able to adjust to these changes instantly, and a remote nozzle does not give them that ability.

     

    Anyone familiar with the terrain and weather conditions in Eastern Colorado would agree that pump and roll capability and exterior riding position of a firefighter are MUST-HAVE NEEDS for any department. The most recent example of this was the Heartstrong Fire in Yuma County, Colorado in March of 2012. Fanned by 45-60 mph winds, the fire consumed 85 square miles before it could be contained. Fires created with this type of wind would be impossible to attack if a firefighter was in the cab of the truck or on the ground.

     

    Our department experienced this several years ago as well when a wind fueled fire burned over 10,000 acres of grassland 20 miles Southeast of Kit Carson on a cattle ranch. By utilizing the pump and roll capability and exterior riding position of our firefighters, we were able to contain the fire with no structures lost.

     

    The town of Karval, Colorado, in March 2011, was saved by the quick response of 10 firefighting agencies using pump and roll capability to attack a fast-moving grass fire that consumed 18 square miles and over 12,000 acres before it was contained. All of the responding agencies had some type of pump and roll and exterior riding firefighters to provide a fast and safe attack.

     

    These are just a few examples of the large grass fires that have occurred on the Eastern Plains in recent years. It does not include the hundreds of other smaller grass fires that started, but were able to be extinguished in a quick and safe manner before they become newsworthy.

     

    The property areas that we protect are not forest locations with high mountains and large groves of trees that prohibit access based upon terrain conditions. We are located in an area of flat ground, with minimal rolling hills that contain millions of acres of grass and farm ground.

     

    One of the pieces of information that I received concerning this ruling stated that fires should be fought from the ground, or cab of the truck. The logistics of fighting a grass fire on the Eastern Plains of Colorado on the ground would be absolutely impossible. The risk to the firefighters would be totally unacceptable, as they would be required to leave the mobility and safety of the truck, putting both the driver and the firefighter at risk, as well as having to fight off exhaustion and possible heat stroke. Our department requires our members to be in full bunker gear, coat, pants, boots, SCBA mask, helmet and gloves when riding on the exterior of the truck. By being off of the truck, the firefighter is limited to the amount of protection he can provide for the truck. By having the firefighter directly behind the cab, the driver knows at all times where that man is and does not have to worry about his location while on scene or in the event he needs to take evasive action in the event of an emergency.

     

    Once on scene at a grass fire, having an exterior riding firefighter and pump and roll significantly speeds up the attack time. Our department covers one half of Cheyenne County which equates to over 1,000 square miles within our district alone. We currently have 20 active members who are spread out over the county, and are an average of 10 to 25 miles away from the station when a page is received. By utilizing the pump and roll capability, we can have one or two trucks with 700 gallons of water on scene and putting out fires by the time reinforcement trucks arrive.

     

    As more and more of Colorado’s rural youth leave their home towns and do not return, and the overall populations in general are on a steady decline, the number of volunteers available to staff departments is on the decline. With more and more regulations being placed on departments, there are fewer and fewer people willing to put in the time away from family and jobs to provide firefighting protection to our rural plains properties. Without the safety and protection that the pump and roll capability of our attack trucks and the exterior riding position they provide, we put that property at an even bigger risk of loss.

    Monty J. Weeks, Secretary/Treasurer
    Kit Carson VFD
    Kit Carson, CO

     
  • We operate 2 type 6 engines that have exterior fire fighting positions.Most of the 50 or so wildland fires we fight each year are done so from this positions. Prior to getting these apparatus in 2007, we operated with regular pickup trucks with a skid unit mounted in the bed. The exterior position is much less stressful on my crews than the walk along method. They do not have to run along side of a moving apparatus when encountering fast moving fires in light fuels. I feel that this is a much safer position than being on the ground do to the fast pace of this type of fire, it allows much better communication between the driver and hose man. I don't have to worry about my crews being run over during the frequent backing and turning operations. Our operators are trained to consider the hose man during operations and to not operate at a pace greater than needed. The hose man can assist the operator in navigating when needed to help avoid obstacles that are sometimes not seen by the person driving.

    Michael Harkey, Chief
    Caney VFD
    Caney, OK

     
  • I believe that many departments need an NFPA compliant exterior riding space built into new apparatuses. As a former Deputy Chief of a rural fire department that specialized in rugged terrain wildland firefighting, I have significant firsthand experience dealing with various tactics and strategies in suppressing natural cover / vegitation fires. There are two main reasons why I support this. First, is because it increases effectiveness of the fire attack. Many times, when a crew has to cover long distances on a fire line that may have sparse fuel or spot fires, the most efficient way to cover the ground and hit the hot spots is with a firefighter in an exterior riding position on the truck, spraying water while being chauffeured by a driver. Doing this task on foot results in reduced effectiveness, possible breakovers (due to the extended time needs) and increased firefighter exhaustion. Secondly, NFPA should develop a guideline on this because if manufacturers don't have the option of building an NFPA compliant exterior "attack seat" in newer rigs, that won't stop firefighters from doing what they've done for decades; riding on the tailgate of brush trucks or kneeling in the pickup bed. Since firefighters are going to ride in truck beds to accomplish their jobs, it would behoove NFPA to authorize a safe, well designed riding location for them in order to improve on-scene safety.

    Chase D. Waggoner, Chief
    Girard FD
    Girard, KS

     
  • I am a 23 year veteran of a large metropolitan fire department surrounded almost entirely by what can easily be classified as a Wildland Urban Interface. We have mutual aid packs with all of our surrounding fire departments and we respond to numerous grass fires year, both within our fence line and in other jurisdictions. I have a few concerns with the restrictions placed on our firefighters which do not allow them to pump and ride during wildfire operations, specifically situations containing fine fuel and flat terrain. The first is the danger firefighters who are walking face from other apparatus operating in a smoky environment. The second is the extreme conditions faced by firefighters during summertime operations, many of whom are volunteers. Lastly, the departments using pump and roll operations in wildfire situations is arguably over 90 percent.

     

    I understand the restrictions placed on firefighters in rugged terrain where the likelihood of rollover is considerably increased, but conditions faced by most departments in the Midwest are very different from those faced in mountainous areas of the country. We face a terrain and a fine fuel combination which cause fires to spread quickly and enables the smoke to remain close to the ground, affecting visibility for everyone on the fireground. Wildland fires in the Midwest are fought with small hand lines supplied by grass rigs and large tankers designed to run the fire line and quickly knock down the large, fast moving fire front which the fine fuels create with only moderate winds.

     

    Many of the newer grass rigs are designed for a firefighter to operate a hand line while safely riding on the rig. The firefighters walking along side or in front of a grass rig are in constant danger from large tanker trucks operating in the area because of the constantly changing visibility conditions in the area. The speeds at which tender trucks used to supply water and those used to apply water to the fire front are constantly putting firefighters forced to walk in danger due the poor visibility levels normally encountered.

     

    The second issue is the age and condition of the average volunteer firefighter, in rural areas of the Midwest, are often less than optimal. Most of the volunteers that have the time and the flexibility to consistently participate in fighting a wildfire are retired or well established in their careers. While this affords individuals the opportunity to participate in extra activities and training, it usually occurs after a person has passed their prime physically. The fact that volunteer firefighters are not required to pass medical physicals or meet physical requirements puts them at a higher risk during strenuous activity. Temperatures consistently reach into the 90’s and often well over 100 degrees, during the wildland fire season, compounding the stress firefighters are exposed to. The ability to fight fire from an apparatus, when operating in suitable terrain, will greatly reduce the strain and risk to firefighters who are already in a higher risk category as far as their health is concerned.

     

    Even though standards do not allow pump and roll operations most people have witnessed the practice while on a grass fire in the Midwest. The combination of the quick burning fuels, high winds, extreme temperatures, the age and physical condition of many of the volunteer firefighters, causes most departments to allow its members to ride on a grass rig while fighting a grass fire. While not a scientific fact, it is a reasonable estimate that up to 90 percent of the departments allow some degree of pump and roll operations while the firefighters ride somewhere on the apparatus other than the seats within the cab of the vehicle. It would make more sense to control how the operations are to be safely carried out than to continue to ignore the fact that these operations are being used during wildland fires. The practice of pump and ride operations is so ingrained in the culture of the rural areas of Midwestern states that the subject is almost taboo. The practice is not discussed during planning, safety meetings, operations, or demobilization. Larger departments who follow their protocols, do not engage in pump and roll operations, are usually engaged in operations with dozens of smaller departments over which they have no official jurisdiction.

     

    As a member of the Tulsa Fire Department, Oklahoma Incident Management Team, the Oklahoma State Fire Marshals Commission, a Red Card asset for the Osage Tribe and a member of Oklahoma’s Urban Search and Rescue team(OKTF1) I have had the opportunity to be deployed to many incidents in the Midwest, many of which have been wildland fires. I have seen the value of safety regulations when it comes to protecting the firefighter and the citizen, but the restriction on pump and roll operations can actually puts firefighters at greater risk of harm because of the exposure to the elements, the physical limitations of older firefighters, and the limited visibility on the fire ground.

     

    The risk involved in riding an apparatus in a non-traditional seat has historically been proven to be higher, but with the advances in harness and restraint systems that risk has been greatly reduced if not eliminated. Combined with the advantages of not exposing firefighters to unnecessary risks of walking while apparatus are operating in the area and reducing the heat stress the average volunteer firefighter is exposed to it makes little sense not to allow pump and roll operations on relatively flat terrain. I personally believe that it is time to develop standards on how these operations are to be conducted and under which conditions and types of terrain the operations will be allowed, reducing the danger to firefighters operating at a wildfire.

    Stan May
    Tulsa FD
    Tulsa, OK

     
  • As Chief of an all volunteer F.D. serving an area of approximately 50 sq. miles in west central Douglas County, KS I firmly support provisions for an exterior FF position for fine fuel fires. An appropriately engineered design will allow us to better serve our jurisdiction. Over 40% of our responses result from agricultural burns that get out of control. We have tried a remote control turret and found that to be less useful than expected. It required significant custom fabrication and is very hard to control. A single FF with a .75" whip line is far more effective. Many on my department have suffered undue heat stress, trips and snags while dragging a hose line in a fast moving ground cover fire. We NEED a more practical and SAFE solution as we continue to loose volunteers!

    Duane Filkins, Fire Chief
    Kanwaka FD
    Lawrence, KS

 

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