04/02/10 216 W - + 5 - 2 Crash Trucks, Water Cannons, Mothballs

Midwest Airlines has returned to Raleigh-Durham International Airport. This morning's News & Observer has a photo by Takaaki Iwabu showing CFR 2 and CFR 3 spraying a salute the first returning flight. The airport fire department, named Raleigh-Durham International Airport Emergency Services, has three such trucks. They're Oshkosh T-3000 crash trucks, delivered in 2000. Two with two axles, and the big three-axle monster. They replaced older, refurbished Walter rigs that dated to 1970s. 

The accompanying News & Observer article has the headline "At RDU, the Water Cannons Come Out of Mothballs."  Lest anyone think that those crash trucks are remotedly underutilized, let's correct that perception. The airport rigs roll several times daily. Based on scanner traffic, it's a regular cycle of airport alerts, fire alarms, fuel spills, and other calls. Along with EMS responses, though those are handled-- if memory serves-- by their mini-pumper, a 2005 Ford/4 Guys. Readers, please expand as needed. The gang at the airport doesn't get nearly enough visibility compared to the other fire departments in the area.

And that's the best that we've got for your Friday morning. Playing language police to the News & Observer. What can we say, it's been a busy week at Blog Central.

[ Missing photo ]
Takaaki Iwabu / News & Observer photo

I herd someone say last year that they ran over 1000 calls.
079 - 04/02/10 - 08:31

I think the “mothballs” comment was referring to the salute(last one in 2007), but agree that it could have been worded better!
JA - 04/02/10 - 08:47

I’ve never heard of this type of salute before…how far does this practice date to??
HS - 04/02/10 - 09:57

@HS—The “Water Cannon Salute” is usually reserved for situations where (a) a longtime pilot is retiring (famous pilot Captain Sullenberger received the treatment at the beginning and end of his last flight) or (b) when an airline starts providing service at an airport.

Wikipedia has a limited article about the practice:

Hope this helps!
Marshall Sherard KE4ZNR (Email) (Web Site) - 04/02/10 - 10:38

I forgot to mention: Captn Sullenberger’s last flight landed at Charlotte KCLT Airport. ATC Audio of the flight can be found at Liveatc.net (Along with audio from hundreds of other interesting flights).
Marshall Sherard KE4ZNR (Email) (Web Site) - 04/02/10 - 12:44

I remember RDU CFR doing this when the Hurricanes returned from winning the Eastern Conference Championship.
CFP 7021 - 04/03/10 - 10:04

I understand thy also do it for members of the miltary who die for their country.
Rob Mitchell - 04/03/10 - 10:23

Let me start with a word of thanks to all those who posted comments. The members of the RDU Airport Emergency Services certainly appreciate the kind words. I would however like to make the following corrections to comments made so far. First we do have three aircraft firefighting apparatus, two, CFR 2 and 3, are Oshkosh T-1500s, while CFR 4 is a T-3000. RDU ES responded to over 1900 calls last calander year, and they consisted as described above, alerts, fire alarms, medical calls, fuel spills, odor inestigations, the list goes on. The last water arch, as we like to refer to them was done, less then a month ago, for a returning hero. We perform these on a fairly regular basis, for military flights, retiring pilots, or as in this case, airline sponsored events. We are certainly proud of our involvement, and thank all of you who took notice.

The commentor is a Deputy Chief on the ES department
Joe - 04/03/10 - 11:38

1900 calls is alot for a single station dept. What are the staffing levels for trucks and do you meet or exceed iso guidelines? it would seem you would need at least 6 firefighters and two line officer (Lt.,Capt.)plus one district chief, and one ADIM. Chief. And a fire inspector maybe. that would put you at 10-11 personnel per shift. not bad
Firehose - 04/04/10 - 22:30

RDU operates with 6 staff per day (1-Deputy Chief, 1-Captain, 1-Lieutenant and 3-Engineers) plus Fire Chief 8-5 M-F.
[Smoketamer] - 04/06/10 - 13:15

Not knowing some of the updates, but, unless it has changed since I worked at RDU, ISO does not apply to airport CFR or ARFF departments. They fall under guidelines established by the FAA. And unless an ARFF chooses to get involved with ‘structural’ duties, then the FAA rules are all that apply. With the rules that applied during the 80s, we were required to have three trucks, based upon the formula that the FAA used at the time, which was based upon the length of the largest commercial aircraft that landed a specified number of times (seems like it was five or more). The rules specified we had to move so many gallons of water, so many gallons of foam concentrate, and so many pounds of dry chemical agent, to the mid-point of the farthest runway, in two or three minutes. Given the ‘technology’ of the day, we needed three trucks. We actually had four, so we could have been seen as exceeding the requirements. In concept, if all of that water, foam, and dry chemical could have been placed on one truck, we could have operated that way with a driver.

For a time when we became a full time fire department, we operated with three personnel per shift, one per truck. This satisfied the FAA requirements that each truck had to be capable of discharging at 80% capacity (or something like that) with only the driver on board. When we went to 24 hour shifts in the early 80s, we gained 2 per shift, which usually allowed four on duty due to sick and vacation leave.

There are a lot of CFR/ARFF departments across the country that operate like that with minimum equipment and manpower. Fortunately, those are few.

I am pretty sure that there have been some changes over the years, and Joe, or anyone else out at RDU, can update us.
DJ - 04/06/10 - 15:10

Remember personal info?

/ Textile

Comment moderation is enabled on this site. This means that your comment will not be visible on this site until it has been approved by an editor.

To prevent spam we require you to answer this silly question

  (Register your username / Log in)

Hide email:

Small print: All html tags except <b> and <i> will be removed from your comment. You can make links by just typing the url or mail-address.