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Peterson Fire Department upgrades firefighting response vehicles

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Members of the Peterson Fire Department simulate an aircraft fire for training with the new Rapid Intervention Vehicle, Dec. 8, 2015. The RIV is one of two new firefighting vehicles the FD has received in the last six months with new ultra high pressure technology to more efficiently use water. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Members of the Peterson Fire Department simulate an aircraft fire for training with the new Rapid Intervention Vehicle, Dec. 8, 2015. The RIV is one of two new firefighting vehicles the fire department received with new ultra high pressure technology to more efficiently use water. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Members of the Peterson Fire Department simulate an aircraft fire during training with the Striker 3000’s turret with firefighters using the fire hose at the same time, Dec. 8, 2015. The Striker 3000 is one of two new firefighting vehicles the FD has received in the last six months, increasing their firefighting capabilities for Team Pete, the Colorado Springs airport and the community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Members of the Peterson Fire Department simulate an aircraft fire during training with the Striker 3000’s turret with firefighters using the fire hose at the same time, Dec. 8, 2015. The Striker 3000 is one of two new firefighting vehicles the fire department received to increase firefighting capabilities for Team Pete, the Colorado Springs airport and the community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- In the last six months, the Peterson Fire Department received two upgraded, more efficient response vehicles to support Team Pete, the Colorado Springs Airport and the community.

The fire department received a Rapid Intervention Vehicle and a Striker 3000. Both have unique capabilities and are more efficient with water use due to their ultra-high pressure technology.

The previous trucks were pushing 20 to 25 years old and were becoming less reliable due to mechanical issues, the old technology and wear and tear, said Staff Sgt. Jarrod Abernathy, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron fire and emergency services.

The newer trucks will provide faster responses with less worry of mechanical issues. The UHP system requires less water and foam compared to a traditional fire fighting vehicles.

"Two and a half times greater water use is the philosophy behind the UHP," said Master Sgt. Christopher Waldrip, 21st CES fire and emergency services. "For example, the RIV holds 400 gallons of water, but it effectively gives us the same firefighting capabilities as 1500 gallons."

The capability requirements for the fire department are based off the requirements of the C-130H3 Hercules assigned to the 302nd Airlift Wing and other aircraft that come through the Colorado Springs Airport. The fire department provides primary emergency services to Peterson and the airport.

The Striker 3000 holds 3000 gallons of water and is primarily for aircraft fires, but could be used as a last resort for structural fires on base, said Waldrip. The RIV is a little more flexible due to its small size, but is also primarily for aircraft fires.

"The RIV is really interesting," said Waldrip. "Because it's an aircraft firefighting vehicle, we get that extra firefighting capability with less water and the smaller truck makes it safer to operate and easier to maneuver. The RIV is also multiuse; for example, the vehicle saw real-world action a few weeks ago while assisting community partners during an aircraft crash and the resulting wild land fire."

The new vehicles can also change their firefighting tactics. Traditional vehicles dump more water on the fire to put it out, causing water damage, but the UHP puts out the fire with less water and less damage.

"In the (United States) especially, the history is that bigger is better - big trucks with tons of equipment and tons of water with big fire streams. We are going into buildings and aircraft with a method of attack to drown it," said Waldrip. "However, water causes damage and with the UHP, a lot less water being used changes our tactics on how we fight he fires."

The new additions to the fire department will help not only save water and cause less damage, but the flexibility of the new fire trucks allow for increased usage. Team Pete, the Colorado Springs Airport and the community continue to benefit from the increasing availability to modern technology.

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