Message for Aaron

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Message for Aaron

Postby chariots of fire on Sat Jun 13, 2015 11:34 am

Aaron: If you go to Cape Cod Fire on the home page there is a link to the Plymouth County Brush Breaker drill that took place a month or so ago. Lots of brush breakers including a TFFT.
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby Aaronw on Sun Jun 14, 2015 4:56 pm

Some neat photos in there. I don't see many small brush breakers, that Ford F-350 with the full cage is kind of unique.

The TFFTs are huge, some good shots of them opened up which is nice. I haven't seen many photos of them. I keep hoping Italeri will offer one from their 1/35 HEMTT kit.

Not a brush breaker question, but I saw one pickup marked as CAR-3, that is not something we see out here. Is that just a utility truck or a command vehicle?

We generally mark our utility vehicles U-xx or UT-xx or often just left unmarked except for department logo. Chiefs are Chiefs (BC-xx for Battalions, DIV-xx for Divisions, CH-xx for The Chief, Asst or Deputy Chiefs)
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby chariots of fire on Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:56 pm

I'll take a look at Car 3. There are some occasional weird designations. Most likely a deputy's vehicle. Sometimes they are given a p/u as a first response vehicle ahead of an engine or other brush piece.
I started to convert one of the 1/35 scale HEMTT's into a TFFT and saved some photos but had a serious time with the paint and it went back in the box. Maybe some day I'll drag it out again.
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby chariots of fire on Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:00 pm

Yes, Car 3 is either a Deputy's vehicle or a mechanic's truck. Plympton is a small town about 15 miles from here. One main village center and lots of residential development in small clusters. Lots of cranberry bogs in low lying swampy areas. They are really on the fringe of brushbreaker country and don't get many calls for large fires.
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby GLMFAA1 on Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:16 am

Thanks for the eastern info, I'd be thinking something like 'Mad Max' if I saw one of those rigs in my rearview mirror,
My question is when your in the woods and make an attack do you just go straight and not back up as it seems all the protection is for forward motion.

greg
Stars at night. You see them due to the light traveling from them. What you see is the stars past. If you are seeing a star that's 6,000 yrs ago. Imagine somebody on that star looking at us. They'd be seeing us as 6,000 yrs ago. Which of those two is now?
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby mdlbldrmatt135 on Mon Jun 15, 2015 6:22 am

Aaronw wrote:The TFFTs are huge, some good shots of them opened up which is nice. I haven't seen many photos of them. I keep hoping Italeri will offer one from their 1/35 HEMTT kit.)


Aaron,

There's a conversion out:

https://www.scalemates.com/kits/947591-black-dog-t35136-m1142-tfft-conversion-set
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby GLMFAA1 on Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:29 am

mdlbldrmatt135 wrote:
Aaronw wrote:The TFFTs are huge, some good shots of them opened up which is nice. I haven't seen many photos of them. I keep hoping Italeri will offer one from their 1/35 HEMTT kit.)


Aaron,

There's a conversion out:

https://www.scalemates.com/kits/947591-black-dog-t35136-m1142-tfft-conversion-set


Just did a conversion on the Euro = 134.58 for the kit conversion :o
greg
Stars at night. You see them due to the light traveling from them. What you see is the stars past. If you are seeing a star that's 6,000 yrs ago. Imagine somebody on that star looking at us. They'd be seeing us as 6,000 yrs ago. Which of those two is now?
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby mdlbldrmatt135 on Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:47 am

It's a lot of resin, that's for sure.
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby chariots of fire on Mon Jun 15, 2015 5:57 pm

GLMFAA1 wrote:Thanks for the eastern info, I'd be thinking something like 'Mad Max' if I saw one of those rigs in my rearview mirror,
My question is when your in the woods and make an attack do you just go straight and not back up as it seems all the protection is for forward motion.

greg

Hey, Greg. Yes, forward motion is the preferred direction of travel. There is enough to protect things like a pump or minor branches when backing up. The most important thing about backing, though, it that you are going against the grain if you will. You will never find a breaker trying to leave the woods by going the opposite way in the trail he made because the vegetation that he laid down is all going in the same direction. The result can be a stiff branch up through a fender or a punctured radiator.
I've had to operate in some instances where backing short distances is absolutely necessary to get around a tree that is too large to take down. But those instances are few and far between. Picking a route where backing up is not necessary is the job of the spotter who is out front and the driver.
Just so everyone knows, also, these rigs do not operate at breakneck speed. They are typically in low range and in first gear so that there will be time to put out the fire and so that trees will not snap at the top and come down on the top of the truck. Driving against the tree at too high a speed will only whip the tree and snap the top off. The idea is to approach slowly, get the tree to move easily and then apply the power to take it down.
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby chariots of fire on Mon Jun 15, 2015 6:08 pm

One other bit of information is that on Cape Cod itself there is a move away from brushbreaker operations. In many towns they are beginning to use smaller rigs built on say F-350 or F-450 size chassis with little to no bar work. I think the reason is twofold.
1. The Cape is seen a lot of residential and even commercial growth in areas that previously were largely forested. Although if you were to fly over it you would still see plenty of open space.
2. Many Cape fire departments do not have experienced personnel who are comfortable operating a brushbreaker and new chief officers who come in from outside the area have no idea about using them.
What we call the "Upper Cape" (the most westerly half) still has a number of them mainly in the towns of Sandwich, Falmouth, Mashpee and Bourne. If you go to the CapeCodFD.com website you will see a map of the Cape by town and it will show you where most are located.
It has been a long time since a serious fire hit the area but if it ever does, I think those towns that chose to go away from brushbreakers are going to be sorry they did. A crown fire in pitch pine and white pine will not be stopped by roadside crews with handlines.
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby Aaronw on Tue Jun 16, 2015 4:39 pm

So just a little more clarification on the use of CAR as a designator, based on your initial guess that it was either a deputy chief or a mechanics vehicle it sounds like a kind of non-specific special use identifier? One of those things you really just have to know the unit in question?

I can see why places would back off of Brushbreakers, they seem pretty specialized for their purpose and assume costly to maintain between the weight of the protection and the hard use. The use of people riding on apparatus is also rather frowned on these days. I imagine that for somebody who has not experienced a fire as you describe, they could fail to see the reason things were done the way they were. They just see an expensive limited use piece of equipment built for fighting fire "like a cowboy". It will be interesting to see if the next generation brush breakers don't resemble a crash truck with remote turrets and all the personal enclosed in the cab. That TFFT demo could start a new series of NFPA compliant brush breakers built on surplus HEMTT chassis, maybe something like BLM's Tatras on steroids.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00Wmsri07Xc


Yeah, NFPA compliant and brushbreaker doesn't fit to well together in my head either. ;)
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby chariots of fire on Tue Jun 16, 2015 11:42 pm

There are already some issues with manufacturers building these kinds of apparatus. Yes they do take abuse. That is why some (not all) lean toward barring up a piece of ex-military equipment to use for that purpose. Memphis Equipment is one source of refurbed military style trucks. They will put on a solid top, repower it to your specs and sell a rebuilt chassis for reasonable money. Then it is up to the purchaser to determine how it will be fitted out for brushbreaker service.
Most of the big manufacturers shy away from building them for probably two reasons.
1. A limited call for such apparatus and
2. NFPA standards that call, as you say, for all firefighters to be seated.
In fact the small companies that will build brushbreakers generally do so within certain limitations so as not to run afoul of NFPA standards. I am not possitive but I'm pretty sure the NFPA does not even recognize brushbreakers as fire apparatus. But the manufacturers don't want to take chances on their reputations. Can't say as I blame them.
I don't see in our neck of the woods, necessarily, a TFFT type vehicle being used much. For one they are huge and would require a small acre just to get turned around in. Second, there is too much out front to get busted up.
Firefighters located behind the cab of the breakers need to see the fire up close so that they can direct streams just ahead of and to the side of the rig. What they don't knock down on a first pass gets picked up by the next breaker in line. Straight stream nozzles do the job best but many rigs now employ Class A foam because it does such a good job of cutting surface tension and getting the water to penetrate the duff and root systems of the pine and oak.
We are not the only part of the northeast that uses such apparatus although the style I would say is unique. Both portions of Long Island, NY and the Pine Barrens of New Jersey have apparatus that are known there as stump jumpers. Their protection is set up different than what is done here but the principles of operation are similar.
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby chariots of fire on Tue May 10, 2016 10:52 pm

Aaron: You are probably a lot closer than most of us to knowing the types of conditions the guys in Alberta have been facing in fighting that huge fire that has consumed nearly 400,000 acres. What can you tell us about it? It just seems so far north it's hard to know how conditions can get that bad this time of year.
Our average brush fire season lasts less than a month this time of year and really slows down as the underbrush greens up. We will have another relatively short season in the fall.
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby Aaronw on Wed May 11, 2016 11:08 pm

As far as tactics, realistically on something like that the tactics are get out of the way and wait for the weather to change. You just kind of nibble on the flanks and salvage what you can behind the fire front.

We had the Valley fire near me last year, it burned 76,000 acres (118 square miles), more than 1/2 of that was burned in the first 24 hours. That was in September, but not a particularly hot or windy day, the main culprit was 3 years of extreme drought.

Washington and Oregon have been burning more in recent years as well. Traditionally they have short, unremarkable fire seasons, but they've burned aggressively the past 2 or 3 years. Not a popular answer but climate change is playing a part, warmer, drier winters, warmer, drier summers. Fire seasons are starting earlier, lasting longer and burning hotter.

When I started with the USFS in 1996 Northern California traditionally staffed up in June and the temporary firefighters got laid off in Sept. There was just a skeleton crew of permanent firefighters in the off season to deal with the occasional unseasonal dry spell (you can imagine how productive an engine crew made up of all captains and chiefs was :P ).
Now we have full staffing from early-mid May to late Oct or Nov most years and have enough year round firefighters to staff about half of our engines with a minimum of 3 firefighters, 7 days a week when conditions merit that (we staff with 5 during the fire season). Off season responses to other than small local fires used to be rare, almost unheard of. Now it is common to mobilize crews or engines at least once or twice over the winter to help with a moderate size (multiple day) fire or to augment staffing due to abnormally high fire danger.

I can't speak specifically to Canada, but from what I've read they are facing the same issues.
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby Aaronw on Wed May 11, 2016 11:31 pm

A question back at you now that you've brought this one back. I had actually forgotten about it, some very interesting stuff.

When I went down to the southeast last year they rely heavily on smallish dozers and / or tractor plows. It appears that the New Jersey Forest Fire Service does have a fair number, but they don't appear to be common in the New England states. Are they just less photogenic, or do you find that they are in fact not widely used, perhaps somewhat redundant where the brush breakers work?
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby chariots of fire on Thu May 12, 2016 2:44 pm

The only time I can remember bulldozers being used was back in 1957 for sure and they may have been used in 1964. But that was only after the initial fire was extinguished. They cut a fire break deep enough to get under the duff and turf that was left so there was no way the fire could pop up outside the burn area.
SE Mass. is a mixed up area terrain and soil wise. It has large pockets of glacial outwash that make up the most hazardous areas for pitch pine, white pine and scrub oak that have well drained sandy soils. Other areas have glacial till which is a hodge podge of tight soils and rocky surfaces which are less vulnerable to heavy fire. In those areas ground fire is the biggest threat whereas in the pitch pine and white pine areas, a ground fire can quickly turn into a crown fire and leap ahead with spot fires popping up outside the area of control.
Brush breaker operations involve pinching the edges of the fire toward the head where hopefully it can be put out before it crowns. As in your area, a good change of wind and all bets are off.
An iteresting thing has occurred in recent years, however. Many Cape Cod towns have opted out of the brush breaker type of equipment and have exchanged them for small rigs that would work along side roads and open areas. Many of these towns have brought in Chiefs from outside the area who don't have the experience in brush breaker operations and secondly many areas that once were wooded have been turned into development of houses and shopping centers. Part of the reason for change is probably NFPA Pamphlet 19 which dictates that all firefighters must be seated when responding to a fire. Brushbreakers are not recognized and some chiefs have been real sensitive to the fact that you have to stand up on the rig to apply water on the fire. Can't do that sitting down. Over the years there have been very few injuries reported as a result of brush breaker operations.
I fear that they will regret that decision some day as there is still plenty of open land left. All it will take is a couple of good dry days with a stiff southwest wind and they might which they had the breakers back. Fortunately there are several towns that have maintained their brush breaker fleet with no signs of making changes.
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby Aaronw on Fri May 13, 2016 7:46 pm

Interesting that dozers are not used much considering their popularity elsewhere. I would love a job that just went to different places around the US and the world to document firefighting operations, the different variations of tactics, the equipment used etc.

Open seating has been controversial for sometime now. You find a lot of places with wide open grasslands also feel strongly about using people in the open, the Great Basin, parts of Texas, and the plains states in particular.
Supposedly NFPA is considering some adjustment to the enclosed cab requirement due to pressure from places that feel open riding positions are critical to their operation.


It used to be some of the places I went you saw firefighters on the front bumper, sometimes with even less protection than in these photos.

Image

Image

When I see new equipment with open seats, the firefighters are usually behind the cab with some sort of safety gate, some also utilize ladder belts to help prevent people from getting bucked off the truck.

Image

Image
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby Aaronw on Fri May 13, 2016 8:08 pm

Mostly used in grass and light brush so they lack the heavy protection of the brush breakers, but some of the trucks out west share some similarities.

Until at least the mid 2000s the BLM in in parts of the Great Basin allowed firefighters to ride up top and provided railings for them. The more recent trucks don't have these tall railings so I assume they have dropped the practice.

Image

This Abilene, TX brush truck looks to be inspired by the trucks in your area. Several short hardlines are plumbed to allow firefighters to work while riding on the engine.

Image
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby chariots of fire on Sat May 14, 2016 9:57 am

That last photo shows they are getting close! Riding on the front is ok in nice flat land with no trees I guess. The firefighters on brushbreakers work from a standing position behind the cab and they are pretty well protected. The side protection is important as their function is to aim a solid stream at the base of the fire just in front of the truck. There would be one firefighter on each side but both do not operate at the same time unless there is fire for both to reach. I'll try and do a basic sketch that I can post showing how it's done.
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby chariots of fire on Sat May 14, 2016 11:31 am

Here's a sketch that shows how brushbreakers operate in a wooded environment.
First they attack the fire from the flanks, moving toward the head fire to pinch it off.
Second they work in tandem with two or more breakers in line. What the first breaker does not knock down, the next in line picks up and so forth.
Third as they run low on water they peel off starting with the first in line. The next in line then becomes the lead breaker. When the tank is full they rejoin the line starting at the rear.
At least this is how it is supposed to work. Now throw into the mix a change in wind direction, sloping land, a blown tire or a broken tie rod and see how things can sometimes get a bit dicey!
Note that the firefighter on the right side of each truck is not applying any water. Only the ones on the fire side. With most rigs now being equipt with Class A foam a lot of fire can be put out that way. One axiom that must be remembered is to save a little water for yourself. In other words, when leaving the fire line you still need protection. ;)
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby Aaronw on Tue May 17, 2016 10:25 pm

There have been a number of serious injuries / fatalities related to riding on the front. No protection if the fire flares up and quite a number from the truck getting blinded by smoke and rear ending another engine, or nose diving into a ditch. Getting them behind the cab helps with all of these issues.

Your drawing of brush breaker tactics closely describes tactics in the sage brush fields of the great basin as well. I think the crew of a brush breaker would feel right at home.
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby chariots of fire on Thu May 19, 2016 10:13 am

Help me with the great basin. Where is it and how large an area are we talking. I know so little about the left coast!
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby Aaronw on Thu May 19, 2016 10:24 pm

Most of Nevada, about 1/2 of Utah, parts of California Idaho and Oregon. Wide open spaces largely covered in 2-6 foot tall brush, scrubby trees and grass. Relatively flat with rolling hills. Pretty common generic "western" background for old cowboy movies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Basin

No pushing over trees but lots of crashing through thick brush, and the use of 2 or more engines in line, the rear engines picking up hot spots and taking over when the lead engine runs low on water. The most common engines in the region are Type 4s 700+ gallons with smallish gas or diesel pumps (85-200 gpm), like those above.
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Re: Message for Aaron

Postby chariots of fire on Thu May 19, 2016 11:02 pm

That is some wide open spaces! Makes our little part of the world look like a pin prick! Fires get just as hot though! ;)
I should take some pictures of some of the typical forest types in our area so you can see how varied it is.
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