Weighing 10 tons and standing on five-foot tires that weigh 1,000 pounds apiece, the City of Virginia Beach (VA) Fire Department`s Monster Fire Truck is big–big enough to impress on area children the importance of fire safety. The truck–fueled by compressed natural gas–is the brainchild of Master Firefighter Donald Moss, who got the idea from visiting monster truck shows and seeing how children of all ages were impressed by the trucks.

To construct the truck, Moss purchased a 1944 Seagrave and donated it to the fire department. City officials donated a 10-ton 4 3 4 dump-truck chassis slated for auction. The vehicle was built by students from the Virginia Beach Technical and Career Education Center. The project gave the students experience in theory, planning, problem solving, teamwork, quality control, and community service. It also helped them learn about the physical requirements of alternative fuel vehicles.

The vehicle exceeds NFPA 52, Standard for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Vehicular Fuel Systems, and has a registered trademark pending.

The project was completed in September 1995 as the result of a public/private partnership between the city of Virginia Beach; the school system; Virginia Natural Gas; and other local, regional, and national companies that donated parts, labor, and funds. While the truck is owned by the city, no city money or taxpayer dollars went toward the construction.

Over the past year, the truck has appeared at malls, fire safety awareness days, expos, air shows, parades, festivals, fund-raisers, and events related to the use of alternative fuels. It is successful, according to the department, because it provides the hook that opens the door to a fire safety lesson. n

TINA R. DiSALVO is a public relations specialist with the City of Virginia Beach (VA) Fire Department Public Information Office. She has been a freelance writer and public relations practitioner for 10 years.

Photos by Jim Milligan.


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