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Raleigh-Durham Airport Fire-Rescue History Blog Posts


One Truck, Two Trucks, Yellow Trucks & More – Solving a Mystery at the Airport

May 11, 2016

Let’s solve a mystery.

Did the airport fire department have one or two Walters CB3000 crash trucks, back in the day? Wait, doesn’t story go that the 1973 Walter CB3000 (delivered new) was re-manufactured by Crash Rescue Equipment Services in/around 1990? Yes, that’s the long-told story.

Then a certain fire historian heard an interesting story the other day. He’s resumed his research on RDU CFR history, and an old-timer told him, “I seem to remember that one of those rehabbed Walters was from a different department. It was a replacement that was already built, and not one of ours.”

Wait a minute, what?

Early ARFF Rigs

First, let’s review the details of the airport’s ARFF rigs, from the 1970s to the 1990s. After the delivery in 1969 of an International/Ansul dry-chemical/light water rig, the airport obtained an ex-Army 1959 Walter Class 1500 crash truck. This met their need for “big water/big foam” until the purchase of a new 1973 Walter CB3000. Four years later, a second crash truck was purchased, a new 1977 Walter B1500. And after which, the 1959 Walter was presumably disposed, and later parked as a permanent exhibit at the Durham Museum of Life and Science.

Photo credit: (Raleigh) News & Observer and Dale Johnson (lower right)

Three crash trucks, plus an earlier ex-Army 1946 International/Bean Class 125 pumper (below left) that was replaced in 1979 by a Chevrolet/Reading utility body truck with a skid-mounted dry chemical system. (Said skid system was previously mounted on a pick-up truck. There was also a second skid system, mounted on a pick-up truck and later a trailer.)

Photo credit: (Raleigh) News & Observer (left) and RDU CFR (right).

Entering The Eighties

And with those four rigs (CT1 through CT4), the airport entered the eighties with a quartet of new or somewhat new apparatus:

  • CT1 – 1979 Chevrolet/Reading
  • CT2 – 1969 International/Ansul
  • CT3 – 1977 Walter
  • CT4 – 1973 Walter

By the end of the decade, however, an upgrade was in order. Three “big water/big foam” trucks were needed, instead of two. And improvements were sought for the two 1970s Walter crash trucks.1

In October 1989, a third crash truck was delivered, a rebuild of a 1970s Walter B1500 by Crash Rescue Equipment Service (CRES). As old-timers tell it, the rig was identical to their 1977 Walter B1500. And the original B1500 was subsequently sent to CRES, for it’s own rebuild. The 1977 truck was rehabbed from top to bottom and with improvements ranging from new turrets to added air conditioning.

1Why the need for a third water/foam truck in 1989? Probably the result of the new runway in 1986, and the larger aircraft later using the 10,000-foot strip. Also, the 1969, 1973, and 1977 crash trucks were getting older, with more likelihood of a truck being out of service. And without another unit of equivalent capacity, they’d be in trouble.

Rehabbed or Replaced?

As for the 1973 Walter, the original story said that it was also rebuilt by CRES. That’s what folks remembered and historians (including myself) have recorded. But then we (meaning me) noticed these pictures.

Photo credit: Lee Wilson

The 1973 Walter is designated as CFR 14. And that didn’t make sense. The 1969 International/Ansul was designated CFR 12, but only after it’s replacement was delivered in 1989. The Ansul was originally CFR 2, and changed to CFR 12 after the delivery of the 1989 CRES/197_ Walter B1500.

And if the “12” designation referred to a “displaced rig,” wouldn’t the same logic apply to a “14” designation? Curiouser and Curiouser.

Next, Mr. Historian (you know him as Mr. Blogger) carefully compared photos of the 1973 Walter as CFR 14 with the subsequent CRES rehabbed version. Practically identical! Sure appeared to be before and after pictures.

Photo credit: Lee Wilson (left) and Pete Brock (right)

Then came the a-ha moment. Look at the photo on the left. Notice the door of the rig behind CFR 14. Slanted stripe. Now look at this group photo of the airport’s three CRES rigs. Two of them have straight stripes. Only one has a slanted stripe. The rehabbed CB3000.

Click to enlarge:

Photo credit: Lee Wilson

Thus the likely interpretation–and really that’s all historians are able to do, which is interpret history–is that the 1973 Walter CB3000 never left the airfield, and a second CRES-rebuilt Walter CB3000 was delivered circa 1990.

This interpretation is further reinforced by a log book entry in November 1990. It reads “foam nozzle cleaned on CFR 4” and “hose repacked on CFR 14.” Ergo, both rigs on site at the same time:

With signs pointing to yes, Legeros contacted a former fire chief at the airport. He confirmed the conclusions drawn above. He also noted that CFR 4 (1989 CRES/197_ Walter) and CFR 14 (1973 Walter) were operated in tandem while the 1977 Walter was being rehabbed by CRES. Once the returned, CFR 14 was disposed to CRES. e.g., a trade-in.

But Still a Few Questions

Mystery solved? Mostly.

Still don’t know the model years for the rehabbed Walter CB3000 in 1990. For now, calling it a 1990 CRES/197_ Walter. The truck had diesel engines, instead of gasoline. Presuming identical capacity to the 1973 version, which was 1500 GPM, 3000 gallons of water, 500 gallons of foam.

Also don’t know the model year of the first rehabbed Walter B1500. We’ll cite as 1989 CRES/197_ Walter. Presuming identical capacity to the 1977 version, which was also rehabbed by CRES. That was 1000 GPM, 1500 gallons of water, 180 gallons of foam.

Thoroughly confused? Here’s the scorecard:

  • 1969 International/Ansul dry chemical/light water rig. Delivered new. Designated CFR 2 until 1989, then CFR 12.
  • 1959 Walter Class 1500 crash truck. Obtained used circa 1970. Designated CFR 3 until 1977, then disposed.
  • 1973 Walter CB 3000 crash truck. Delivered new. Designated CFR 4 until circa 1990, then CFR 14.
  • 1977 Walter B1500 crash truck. Delivered new. Designated CFR 3. Then rehabbed by CRES circa 1990.
  • 1989 CRES/197_ Walter B1500 crash truck. Delivered “new”. Designated CFR 2.
  • 1990 CRES/197_ Walter CB3000 crash truck. Delivered “new”. Designated CFR 4.

Got it?

See this apparatus history page for the complete list and details.

Now, How About a Second Mystery?

Where did the two CRES built crash trucks originally serve? Good question. To be determined. The 1989 CRES/197_ Walter CB3000 was apparently wrecked when new, at its original airport. The incident also involved a fatality. When and where? To be determined. Was the truck first repaired by Walter, and later re-rebuilt by CRES? To be determined.

One more mystery to solve!

And a Visit to CRES

Our friends at the airport fire department also shared these pictures of a visit to CRES in December 1988. The plant is located in Dallas, TX.

Talk about an ARFF-a-palooza! Click to enlarge:

Photo credit: RDU CFR


Notable sources for this blog posting:

  • Fire Apparatus Journal, Volume 19, Number 5, “On the Runway” by Mark A. Redman and Pete Brock, September-October, 2002.
  • Raleigh-Durham Airport Fire-Rescue log books, photographs.
  • Raleigh-Durham Airport Fire-Rescue History by Mike Legeros, http://www.legeros.com/ralwake/rdu.
  • Oral Histories.

Originally posted to Legeros Fire Blog.

New Crash Truck Delivered at Airport – September 1969

May 4, 2016

In September 1969, a new fire engine was delivered at Raleigh-Durham Airport. The Ansul 480 “aircraft crash rescue vehicle” was built on a 1969 International Harvester Loadstar chassis by Southeastern Safety Appliance Company in Charlotte. The Airport Authority authorized its purchase on August 5 of that year. It cost $32,250.50.

The truck was equipped with 1,350 of Purple K dry chemical extinguishing agent, and 250 of gallons of “light water.” The latter was water pre-mixed with foam concentrate. The rig was also the airport’s first pump-and-roll (er, spray-and-roll) rig, and its first larger-capacity truck. It was designated CT-2, later CT-12, later CFR-12. And remained on the roster in the 1990s, as memory serves.

Previously, the firefighting fleet consisted of two trucks: a 1950s pick-me-up truck with an Ansul dry-chemical system (600 or 650 pounds of Purple K) and a World War II-era 1946 International/Bean with a high-pressure pump, 300 gallons of water, and 30 gallons of foam. (Likely an Army Class 125 crash truck.) See my page of apparatus info for complete histories.

The 1969 International/Ansul crash truck was demonstrated on Tuesday, September 23. The next day’s Raleigh Times reported that “nine hundred gallons of jet fuel and 100 gallons of gasoline went up in a searing column of smoke and heat. But half a minute later, the blaze was tamed by a new fire truck.” The truck also helped improve the airport’s “fire rating.” But the rating dropped again, after an Eastern DC-8-61 landed.

Airport Manager Henry Boyd said “ideas were being kicked around” on how to raise the airport’s rating again. The old apparatus would also be retained.1 Who were the firefighters that operated the truck? Those were “sales service personnel” who “had been trained in life saving and fire control.” (Full-time firefighters were added in 1977. Fire crews continued their secondary duties as ramp crews until about 1979, when the airport sold its aircraft fueling business.)

The airport soon had a military surplus 1959 Walter Class 1500 crash truck on the roster, likely obtained around 1970. That probably or certainly raised the airport’s fire rating back to the top. Then in 1973, a new Walter CB300 crash truck was purchased, with further improved the airport’s firefighting capabilities.

Here are a trio of Raleigh Times photographs from the demonstration. If the top image looks familiar, it’s also the cover photo of Mr. Blogger’s book Raleigh & Wake County Firefighting – Part II, published in 2004 by Arcadia. See more information. Or learn more history of the airport fire department.



Raleigh Times photographs, courtesy (Raleigh) News & Observer, via North Carolina State Archives

And here’s the truck in later years. Left is a snapshot scanned from the old photos are the airport fire station. right is a picture by Lee Wilson.


1The Times story described the existing apparatus as “converted foam generator World War II brush fire fighter, 650 pounds of dry chemicals, and Purple K extinguishers on all airport vehicles.”

Originally posted to Legeros Fire Blog.

New Oshkosh Striker 3000 Delivered at Airport

April 29, 2016

On Thursday morning, a new crash truck was delivered to Raleigh-Durham International Airport. The 2016 Oshkosh Striker 3000, 2000/3200/420/450#/460# plus Snozzle is first new ARFF rig since 2000, and the first lime apparatus in a quarter century.

The truck was purchased with 85% of funding from federal and state sources, and thus the safety yellow color. Which is a requirement of the program. Designated CFR 4, it will replace a 2000 Oshkosh T-3000, 1950/3000/420/450#. The airport is evaluating retaining the older truck as a reserve rig.

Here’s a video of the apparatus being unloaded:

View on YouTube

And a posed picture, before it was moved into a bay at the maintenance building.


See more photos, from both Legeros and RDU Fire-Rescue. Next steps including receiving and mounting equipment, and training of personnel from Oshkosh reps.

Historical Perspective

Click once or twice to enlarge:


Photo credits, top to bottom, left to right: Durham Morning Herald, Lee Wilson, News & Observer, RDU Fire-Rescue, Dale Johnson, Lee Wilson, Pete Brock.

By my count, this is the tenth crash truck delivered to the airport:

  • 1946 International/Bean, likely Army Class 125, with high-pressure 50-60 GPM pump, 300/20 f.
  • 1969 International/Ansul Magnum 480 dry-chemical unit, 1350#/200 l.w.
  • 1959 Walter Class 1500, 1500/950/200 f. (obtained circa 1970)
  • 1973 Walter CB3000, 1500/300/500 f. (later rehabbed by CRES in 1990)
  • 1977 Walter B1500, 1000/1500/180 f. (later rehabbed by CRES in 1990)
  • 1989/1977 CRES/Walter B1500 , specs. TBD
  • 2000 Oshkosh TI-1500, 1500/1500/210 f./450#
  • 2000 Oshkosh TI-1500, 1500/1500/210 f./450#
  • 2000 Oshkosh TI-3000, 1950/3000/420 f./450#.

Not counting mini-pumpers and smaller trucks with dry chemical equipment:

  • 1952 Chevrolet pick-up with dry-chemical equipment, 450#/50 l.w.
  • 1959 Chevrolet pick-up with dry-chemical equipment, 400#
  • 1966 Chevrolet pick-up with dry-chemical equipment, 400#
  • 1979 Chevrolet/Reading/Ansul rescue truck with dry-chemical unit, 450#/50 l.w.
  • 1991 Ford/E-One mini-pumper, 250/200/30 f.
  • 2001 Ford F-550/4 Guys mini-pumper, 500/250/20 f.

Read more history.

Originally posted to Legeros Fire Blog.

Updated - New Crash Truck Coming to RDU Airport

April 22, 2016

Production is complete on the airport’s new 2016 Oshkosh Striker 3000, 2000/ 3200/ 420/ 450#/ 460# + Snozzle. It’s also the first lime apparatus since the 1990s. Here are some pictures from the pre-delivery inspection last week, shared by our friends at RDU Fire-Rescue. Delivery is expected next week. Click once or twice to enlarge. Then scroll down for specs, details, and more.




Production is underway on a new crash truck for Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Our friends at the airport fire department have passed along some pictures and detailed information.

The 2016 Oshkosh Striker 3000 (with Snozzle!) will replace CFR 4, a 2000 Oshkosh T-3000. It was purchased by the airport authority with 85% of the funding from federal and state sources, via the Airport Improvement Program. The truck will be painted safety yellow, which is a requirement of the program. (The department’s fleet is presently white with blue striping.)

Check out these pics, which include a trio of similar trucks awaiting delivery to Charlotte. Then keep scrolling for specs and more information. Click to enlarge:

Bottom photo showing a trio of Strikers in production for Charlotte.

Stock picture. The RDU truck will be solid yellow.


Engine Deutz TCD 16.0L V8, 670 HP, 1950 ft. lbs. of torque at 1400 RPM, US Tier 3
Transmission Allison 4800 EVS automatic
Suspension Oshkosh TAK-4 independent system
Pump Power divider driven Waterous CRQB, single stage, pump and roll capable, 2000 GPM at 240 PSI
Water 3000 gallons
Foam 420 gallons (3% AFFF)
Dry Chemical 450 pounds (nitrogen propellant)
Halotron 460 pounds (argon propellant)
Special Features Snozzle, 50 foot extendable boom, 500/1000/1250 GPM.
High volume, low attack bumper turret, 1250 GPM.
Driver s Enhanced Vision System (DEVS)

About the Snozzle

This is a first for the airport’s crash trucks. Called a High Reach Extendable Turret (HRET), it adds the ability to:

  • Flow 500 GPM (low flow), 1000 GPM (high flow), or 1250 GPM (with limited horizontal travel). Plus 250 GPM through the piercing tip. (The airport’s current crash trucks flow 300 GPM from the bumper.)
  • Flow water, foam, and dry chemical.
  • Deliver precise and controlled piercing over the wing, under cargo areas, and from high angles of aircraft.
  • Extend the reach of extinguishing agents, so the vehicle can be positioned away from escape slides and triage efforts.
  • Flow a full master stream at ground level, for such uses as extinguishing burning tires and/or hot brakes quickly and effectively.
  • Deliver a wide spray pattern to reach under an aircraft, for cooling fuel tanks and cargo areas.
  • Master stream can be adjusted to deliver a quick mass decontamination shower.
  • Lift up to 500 pounds.
  • Can be used as a stand pipe.

About the Driver’s Enhanced Vision System

This is another new capability for the airport’s ARFF units. DEVS is a moving map display that helps vehicle operators safely navigate in low visibility conditions. Such as rain, sleet, fog, or smoke from a fire. It displays the location of the truck on the airfield, and also provides alerts as the vehicle approaches runway holding markings and runway safety areas. (Called an Imbedded Runway Incursion Warning System.)

Additional features of DEVS are:

  • Waypoints and crash site information can be placed on the map for easier low visibility navigation.
  • Routes can be programmed into the system to avoid unsafe areas and for most efficient routing.
  • Ability to create geographic zones to avoid areas of construction and other obstacles.
  • Full internet access from within the vehicle.
  • Document storage gives personnel access to schematic drawings of aircraft, hazardous materials information, GIS maps, etc.
  • Allows for vehicle location tracking for incident commanders.

Production Status

The fire department just finished with their mid-construction inspection at the Oshkosh/Pierce plant in Appleton, WI. Their pre-delivery inspection is scheduled for mid-April.

Delivery is anticipated at the end of April. After it has arrived, two weeks of hands-on training will be provided by Oshkosh for all personnel. That training hasn’t been scheduled, and the timeframe for in-service is still being determined. Maybe by mid-June.

Airport administration, meanwhile, is evaluating retaining the current CFR4 as a reserve truck. (The fleet currently consists of front-line rigs only.) They’re also looking at replacing CFR 2 and CFR 3 in a future budget year.

Current Crash Trucks

The current fleet of ARFF apparatus at Raleigh-Durham International Airport:

  • CFR 1 – 2001 Ford F-550/4 Guys mini-pumper, 500/250/20 foam
  • CFR 2 – 2000 Oshkosh TI-1500 4×4, 1500/1500/210/450 pounds dry chemical
  • CFR 3 – 2000 Oshkosh TI-1500 4×4, 1500/1500/210/450#
  • CFR 4 – 2000 Oshkosh TI-3000 6×6, 1950/3000/420/450#

Plus support units including a 2001 Ford Excursion command vehicle (CFR 10), a 2015 Ford F-350/UPF brush truck 300/300/10 (CFR 12), and a 2015 Command Support Products foam trailer 1000/265×3.

Originally posted to Legeros Fire Blog.

Looking Closely at the Airport’s 1959 Walter Crash Truck

March 20, 2016

It’s airport week at Blog Central! Time for some time travel…

Raleigh-Durham International Airport has operated four Walter crash trucks in its day, the first being a 1959 Class 1500 that was acquired some time around 1970. Below is the closest we have to a posed photo of the thing. Click to enlarge:

News & Observer photo

About This Truck

Based on new research, this truck was acquired around 1970 or abouts. It wasn’t on the roster in 1970, and had disappeared from the roster by 1980. Yours Truly (cough, cough) had cited in his decade-ago timeline (lately updated) that the truck was delivered new. Wrong. Though there was a civilian version created around 1960, the turret configuration is different. This one’s an ex-military rig. Thanks Mark Redman, for that info.

Then what’s the story?

In 1969, the airport received a new International/Ansul dry-chemical rig. This raised the airport’s fire rating briefly, and then an Eastern DC-8 landed. Guess that was the largest jet to date, and they needed even more firefighting capabilities. The article said that ideas were being “kicked around” on how to raise the rating again.

By 1970, the airport master plan said that construction was underway of a 5,000 gallon, tractor-drawn foam generator. Was it ever built and/or delivered? Thinking not. Then a couple years later, a new 1973 Walter CB3000 crash was delivered. Where does the 1959 Walter fit into this?

Thinking that the 1959 truck was bought a bit before the 1973 truck. That would’ve immediately expanded their ARFF capacity until funds were available and construction was finished on the 1973 truck. (Hey, sounds good to me!)

The 1959 truck operated until 1977, when a second new Walter rig was delivered. (Thanks Dale Johnson, for digging through your memory banks on this one.)

It was retired and (immediately? later?) moved to the Durham Museum of Life and Science, where it sat outdoors as an attraction. It’s pictured here in 1985, with our friend (and military/ARFF historian) Pete Brock in the front seat:

Pete Brock photo

Wider Shot

The above image appears in this News & Observer photo from 1976, cropped from a larger image also showing the airport’s 1973 Walter CB3000, and Fire Chief Terry Edmundson. See more historical photos.

News & Observer photo

About The Class 1500

Military fire historian Ted Heinbuch--who runs Fire Trucks at War and its accompanying Facebook group--has written an excellent capsule history of the Class 1500. Read that excellent document (PDF).

The truck was developed by the Army Corps of Engineers beginning in 1954, to “meet the challenges associated with new types of weapons, missile installations, and the increased use of aircraft at Army airfields.” Production started in 1959.

The 4×4 truck was powered by an eight-cylinder, 300 HP gas engine. The 1500 GPM two-stage pump powered a roof turret, two one-inch booster lines, and discharges for the 1000 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose and 100 feet of 1 3/4-inch hose it carried. Aboard were 950 gallons of water and 250 gallons of foam. Other features included a 20,000 pound winch. There were a total of 136 trucks produced for the Army.

Here are some walk-around photos of a Class 1500 that served Minneapolis, MN, taken by Yours Truly some years ago at an air museum in Anoka, MN.

Mike Legeros photo

And a Trailer!

Heinbuch also includes information about the Sabre Fire Fighting Trailer, designed to be towed behind the Class 1500. It carried 2,000 gallons of water in a baffled tank, and was equipped with a 1500 GPM electric water pump. There was also a gas-fired heating unit for cold climates, that circulated warm water and air. The trailer road on flotation-type military tires, as did the crash truck. Eight of these were produced.

How cool is this thing?

Ted Heinbuch photo, via Fire Trucks at War on Facebook

Originally posted to Legeros Fire Blog.

Brush Truck and Foam Trailer Added at Airport

March 22, 2015

Learned of a couple new pieces of airport fire equipment yesterday, while attending the tri-annual Sky Drill at the airport. Raleigh-Durham International Airport  Emergency Services department added a brush truck and a foam trailer last year. (Mr. Blogger clearly being behind the times.)

CFR 12 is a 2015 Ford F-350 with a UPF Defender skid unit, 300 gallon water tank and 10 gallon foam cell. Don't know pump capacity. No roof lights or lettering. The truck is also used as a service truck, for utility purposes, and pulls the foam trailer. It's added on calls as needed, and can answer parking deck calls when CFR 1 is unavailable.

The trailer was built by Combat Support Products, which located right here in Wake County. Just down the road in Fuquay-Varina, in fact. That's their Foam Chariot III model. Equipped with three foam totes and a high-capacity water/foam deluge gun. The trailer can be used as a simple resupply unit, for the crash trucks on or off airport property. It can also respond as mutual aid for offsite incidents. We'll see if we can get exact specs.

Note that both Apex and Raleigh have purchased similar trailers in recent years. See prior postings about Apex and Raleigh foam trailers.

The full roster of airport apparatus currently includes:

  • CFR 1 - 2005 Ford/4 Guys mini-pumper, ?/300/15
  • CFR 2 - 2000 Oshkosh T-1500 4x4 crash truck, 1500/1500/210/450 pounds dry chem
  • CFR 3 - 2000 Oshkosh T-1500 4x4 crash truck, 1500/1500/210/450#
  • CFR 4 - 2000 Oshkosh T-3000 6x6 crash truck, 1800?/3000/420/450#
  • CFR 10 - 2001 Ford Excursion command vehicle
  • CFR 12 - 2015 Ford F-350 brush truck, ?/300/10
  • Foam trailer
Click to enlarge:


Here’s the brush truck with lettering: 

Originally posted to Legeros Fire Blog.


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