Victoria’s advanced systems for engine crew protection

Above: Country Fire Authority test of engine burnover protection systems. Screen shot from CFA video.

The Aussies are far ahead of wildland firefighting agencies in the United States when it comes to the protection of personnel during fire engine burnovers and rollovers. Since 1977 Victoria’s Country Fire Authority (CFA) has been creating, evolving, and improving systems to increase the odds of firefighters on an engine surviving if their position is overrun by fire. These efforts were intensified after two engine burnovers in 1983 and 1998 killed a total of 17 firefighters.

During the last 39 years the vehicles have been hardened in various ways. Examples include internal radiant heat curtains and nozzles positioned around the exterior of the truck that spray water as the fire approaches.

We did a quick search on Wildfire Today for “engine burnover” and were surprised at the number of results. Take a moment and at least look at the titles and brief excerpts. These, of course, are just articles on our website. We make no claim that all engine burnovers are included since we started this website in 2008.

On November 21 the CFA posted a video (below) about their crew protection systems. It covers the history of their efforts and several minutes of video recorded during a test when a fire was ignited that burned over three of their engines to evaluate the effectiveness of the designs. The maximum temperature recorded was 728°C (1,342°F)

Below is a screen shot from the CFA video.

engine burnover protection system
Country Fire Authority test of engine burnover protection systems. Screen shot from the CFA video.

What if — in 2006 the five U.S. Forest Service firefighters that were entrapped and killed on the Esperanza Fire, instead of working on an engine similar to the USFS engine farther down this page, had been assigned to one built to CFA standards. Would they have taken refuge in the engine, pulled down the thermal protection shields and turned on the truck protection water spray instead of attempting to survive the fire outside the engine?

One feature of the CFA engines we noticed was a heavy-duty internal roll bar.

Internal roll bar Country Fire Authority engine
Internal roll bar in a Country Fire Authority engine.

We have written before about the need for U.S. wildland firefighting agencies to improve the survivability of engine crews during rollovers. These accidents involving large fire trucks, especially water tenders, are common.

In our opinion it is disgraceful that the outfits employing thousands of firefighters on engines have not taken this step to provide a safer working environment for their personnel.

The photo below is from one of the 34 articles on Wildfire Today tagged “rollover”.

Engine 492 crash Wyoming
On August 8, 2013 Engine 492 from the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest and Thunder Basin National Grasslands was involved in a rollover accident on Wyoming State Highway 450 southwest of Newcastle, Wyoming. Three firefighters were injured, one seriously.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Cameron.

Water tender rolls over en route to Sawmill Fire in northern California

CAL FIRE reports there were no injuries in the rollover

water tender rollover
A U.S. Coast Guard water tender rolled over while en route to the Sawmill Fire. Photo by Kent Porter; used with permission.

(UPDATED at 9:14 a.m. PDT September 27, 2016)

Firefighters have stopped the spread of the Sawmill Fire in northern California that burned 1,541 acres on a south facing slope along Geysers Road 26 miles north of Santa Rosa. Roads connecting geothermal facilities at the top of the ridge served as anchors for burnout operations.

3-D map Sawmill Fire
3-D map of the Sawmill Fire at 11 p.m. PDT September 26, 2016.

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(Originally published at 8:23 a.m. PDT September 26, 2016)

A water tender rolled over while responding to the Sawmill Fire in northern California September 25. CAL FIRE reported that there were no injuries during the accident that occurred on Geysers Road in Sonoma County.

The Sawmill Fire started Sunday and by evening CAL FIRE estimated it had burned 1,500 acres. The fire is off Big Geysers Road 26 air miles north of Santa Rosa and 14 miles southwest of the community of Clear Lake. Sunday night mandatory evacuations were in place for residents in the Geysers.

DC-10 drop sawmill fire
DC-10 drops on the Sawmill Fire, September 25, 2016. Photo by Kent Porter, used with permission.

On September 21 the rollover of a water tender enroute to the Canyon Fire on Vandenberg Air Force Base in southern California resulted in the death of a firefighter.

map sawmill fire
Map of the Sawmill Fire at 11 p.m. PDT September 25, 2016.

Most people do not think of the U.S. Coast Guard as having land-based firefighting apparatus, but the agency’s large training center just west of Petaluma, California has a full fire department.

Articles on Wildfire Today about the rollover of fire apparatus while assigned to a wildland fire are tagged “rollover”.

Water tender rollover kills Ventura County fighter

The vehicle was en route to the Canyon Fire.

Above: Fatal water render rollover, September 21, 2016. Screenshot from KEYT video.

This morning the rollover of a water tender enroute to the Canyon Fire on Vandenberg Air Force Base resulted in the death of a firefighter. Ventura County Fire Department reported that Fire Engineer Ryan Osler, a passenger in the truck, lost his life in a line of duty vehicle accident while assigned to the fire. The driver of the truck self-extracted and was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries.

The water tender had designations indicating that it was a California Office of Emergency Services apparatus. OES vehicles are often farmed out to local fire departments, such as Ventura County FD.

KYET reported the accident occurred at about 6:20 a.m. on state Route 246 at Purisima Road in Lompoc which is near the fire burning on the military base on the southern California coast.

Unfortunately rollovers of fire vehicles, especially water tenders, happen far too often.

Our sincere condolences go out to the family, coworkers, and friends of Engineer Osler.

ryan osler

Articles on Wildfire Today tagged “rollover”.

Report released for rollover of BLM truck in Arizona

A BLM truck rolled over in northwest Arizona while assigned to the High Meadow Fire. 

BLM truck rollover Arizona

The Bureau of Land Management has released a report about the rollover of a utility vehicle, a Ford F-350 Crew Cab flatbed truck, that occurred August 13, 2015 in northwest Arizona about 26 miles southeast of St. George, Utah. The driver, an Administratively Determined (AD) employee, not a regular BLM employee, was hauling supplies back from the High Meadow Fire and sustained a minor injury.

The findings in the report included the following:

  • The vehicle’s data recorder indicated the truck was going 51 mph five seconds before the crash.
  • The speed limit was not posted on the road. After a week of investigation, it was found that the “legal speed on the road was 35 mph”.
  • The investigators found that multiple accidents had occurred within 20 yards of the rollover.
  • Due to the mechanism of the accident it was feared that the driver could have a serious injury and should be transported to a hospital. However it would have taken 2.5 hours for an ambulance to get to the scene. After two assessments by individuals with medical training, the employee was taken to a hospital in a government vehicle.
  • The document that authorizes a BLM employee to operate a government vehicle, BLM Form 1112-11, was missing in the person’s personnel folder.
  • The AD employee and most of the district staff personnel could not determine who the supervisor of record was for him or other AD employees during the fire incident. The report indicated that the person was “conducting logistical support” for the High Meadow Fire.
  • A Wilderness First Responder and EMTs were valuable in assessing the patient and getting him the appropriate care for an accident in a remote area.
  • The investigators recommended that all engine crews and fire modules have an EMT in place to help assess situations and get initial care started for accidents that occur in remote areas.

Our commentary about the frequency of fire engine rollovers.
Articles tagged Rollover.

CAL FIRE engine rolls over — three firefighters injured

CAL FIRE engine rollover
The CAL FIRE engine that rolled over August 13, 2015 near Browns Valley, CA. Photos credit: CAL FIRE.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has released a “Green Sheet”, a preliminary report on the rollover of one of their fire engines that occurred August 13, 2015 near Browns Valley, California about 50 miles north of Sacramento (map).

The accident involved two pieces of firefighting apparatus from CAL FIRE, but only the engine was damaged. Three firefighters received minor injuries.

The engine and a dozer transport truck were dispatched to the same fire. The dozer transport stopped on Marysville Road before turning left onto Bayberry Lane. With its turn signal on, it began to turn left but stopped again as the driver saw the engine approaching and attempting to pass. The driver of the engine swerved to avoid a collision and went off the shoulder of the road at approximately 45 to 50 mph. The engine then slid along the gravel shoulder for about 100 feet before rolling over and coming to rest 197 feet from where it left the pavement.

CAL FIRE engine rolloverOn September 5, 2015 near Napa another CAL FIRE engine rolled over, injuring two firefighters.

Related articles on Wildfire Today:

Our commentary about the frequency of fire engine rollovers.
Articles tagged Rollover.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Kirk.

CAL FIRE engine rolls over, two firefighters injured

From the Napa Valley Register in northern California:

Two Napa County firefighters were injured Saturday morning [September 5] when the engine in which they were riding swerved off Wooden Valley Road east of Napa and rolled down an embankment.

Cal Fire spokesman Joe Fletcher said the engine was en route to a reported motorcycle accident around 11:30 a.m. when dispatchers cancelled the call. As the engine was returning to its station, it rolled off the edge of the road and came to rest in a creek bed about 100 feet below the pavement.

One firefighter was able to extricate himself from the wreck; the other had to be helped out by other firefighters arriving at the scene, Fletcher said in a news release. Both were treated for minor injuries.