Mesa firefighter Perry Moser placed his hand on the joystick Friday, but this was no game. It was an exercise in saving lives at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, using a new vehicle worth nearly $1 million that officials say will bring aviation firefighting defenses into the 21st century.
Mesa firefighter Perry Moser placed his hand on the joystick Friday, but this was no game.
It was an exercise in saving lives at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, using a new vehicle worth nearly $1 million that officials say will bring aviation firefighting defenses into the 21st century.
The robotic arm of the Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting vehicle angled while Moser sat safely inside the comfortable cab that has room for at least four others. Then it unloaded hundreds of gallons of water under a minute, a blast that nearly doubles the capability of the station's oldest truck.
Fire Station 215, located on Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, will be officially rolling out on Monday "Foam 225," the name given the $975,000, six-wheeled behemoth built in 2008-09.
The station, also known as the "Fighting 215," specializes in aviation fires as its main purpose, according to a Federal Aviation Administration mandate, which also requires that a minimum of 3,000 gallons of water be available at all times in case of crash landings.
Driving along one of the airport's many runways, the 34-foot-long truck cruised at a smooth 55 mph, and was able to make sharp turns, but not too sharp. "An alarm would sound off if we were turning and going too fast," Moser said.
Arriving at an area to demonstrate the truck's firefighting capabilities, the robotic arm pointed straight forward and released a torrent of water shooting at an angle about 100 feet.
"The goal is to keep the truck far from the fire and to be able to maneuver anywhere around a fire," Moser said.
The state-of-the-art vehicle replaces as the primary truck two other vehicles purchased in the '90s and '80s, Moser said.
The 17-year veteran firefighter pointed to city and fire officials like Chief Harry Beck as the reason his station's six-member team can stay safe when battling blazes fueled by aviation and jet fuel.
Airport Executive Director Lynn Kusy said the purchase was crucial to stay ahead of FAA safety requirements, as well as the airport's 600,000 anticipated passengers in 2009.
"This acquisition deepens our safety commitment," Kusy said. "It provides the skilled firefighters of the Mesa Fire Department with another resource for quickly and effectively responding to all airfield incidents."