The Federal Government and Department of Defense operates a number of facilities across the country to protect the citizens against outside threats and terrorism. Many of these installations are protected by fire and emergency services departments with unique apparatus fleets. Due to security measures most of these departments operate behind the fence line and out of sight.
Located in Bluemont, Virginia approximately 48 miles east of Washington, D.C. on a 434 acre site is the Mount Weather Special Facility. This is one of several Continuity of Government facilities operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is protected by a full time, staffed fire department that also provides mutual aid to nearby Clarke and Loudoun Counties on a first alarm basis.
Due to the remote location, the department operates a fleet of apparatus including a 2010 Pierce Velocity 105 foot rear mount quint as Truck 21 along with a 2004 Kenworth-Pierce assigned as Haz Mat 21. Other units include a 2005 Ford brush unit and a 2015 Dodge 4500 4X4 PL Custom as Ambulance 21.
The newest vehicle placed into service in mid-2014 is Engine 21, a Pierce Velocity PUC pumper. This apparatus replaced a 2004 Kenworth T-300 four door cab pumper with Pierce bodywork and was designed by the department’s apparatus committee which included senior chief officers.
Engine 21 was built with a 190.00 inch wheelbase, overall height of 126.00 inches and overall length of 32 feet, 9 inches. The vehicle is powered by a Detroit Diesel DD13 engine rated a 500 horsepower with an Allison EVS-4000 transmission. The raised roof cab provides seating for six personnel and was outfitted by department members after delivery to provide tool mounting for the driver’s SCBA, forcible entry tools and water cooler.
The chassis was configured to handle the in service weight with the tools, equipment, hose load and 1000 gallon water tank. The front axle is rated at 22,400 pounds with TAK4 independent suspension with a 31,000 pound Meritor rear axle. Due to the mountainous terrain at Mount Weather, 17 inch front disc brakes and a Jacobs’s engine brake were specified. A steel, reinforced front bumper protects a 5.00 inch intake, front trash line and an Elkhart Sidewinder remote control turret rated at 15-200 gpm.
Due to the numerous helicopter landings and wildland interface within the response area the pull and roll capabilities of the PUC pumper design were features that the earlier engine apparatus did not possess. The 1500 gpm fire pump supplies three transverse attack lines, two rear body discharges along with a top mounted deck gun and side panel 2.50 inch and 4.00 inch discharges.
A Pierce Husky 12 foam system and a 140 cfm CAFS system is supplied by two foam cells, a 30 gallon Class A and 50 gallon Class B. Foam solution can be supplied to each of the three transverse hose beds, front bumper turret and one rear body 2.50 inch discharge.
After taking delivery of the new engine, department members began the process to lay out and mount all appliances and equipment on the unit. A number of hand-built shelves, brackets and mounts were developed and installed in each body compartment. Note the use of tool boards on all three walls of the compartment above to utilize all available space inside the left, front body compartment.
The left side rear compartment is outfitted with a swing out tool board, extinguisher module and slide tray. Note the labeling of all equipment to indicate the location of all tools. The tool board has an outline of each forcible entry tool to easily identify missing equipment.
The right, front body compartment carries all of the Hurst hydraulic rescue tools, along with air bags, air hammer and rescue jack straps. The side wall in the lower compartment was used to hold the windshield saw. Engine 21 was outfitted to operate as a stand along Engine Company and carries a full complement of extrication tools, cribbing and rope rescue gear.
The business end of Engine 21 carries 1000 feet of 4.00 inch supply line, 500 feet of 3.00 inch hose along with several long attack lines. Appliances on the slide tray include a 2.50 inch gated wye, LDH manifold and Task Force blitz fire portable monitor.
Engine 21 was on display at a firefighter’s muster and parade and provided a unique opportunity to view a well-designed engine apparatus that spends most of its life behind the fence.