Construct Your Own Mobile Air Unit

Construct Your Own Mobile Air Unit


The Ware County Fire Department in Waycross, GA, recently constructed their own mobile air unit. It was a laborious and time-consuming task, but well worth the effort because it yielded successful results.

Ware County has a population of 37,000 and is located in the southern part of Georgia. The County is comprised of heavy industry and rural farms, which are scattered throughout the area. The County operates nine stations that house 21 pieces of fire apparatus and 90 career and volunteer personnel.

We started with a 1967 Army Dodge 500 chassis that was obtained from the Georgia Forestry Commission. We then began the long process of cleaning it and preparing it for the painting.

Next, we planned the unit’s body and compartments. Our training officer designed a modular body to be built to fit on the chassis.

In order to make the unit mobile we had to find a gasoline engine run air compressor. Through the help of the Forestry Commission we obtained a 23-hp Wisconsin engine. Through Army Surplus we acquired a Worthington, fourstage, 5,000-psi, 26-cubic-foot per minute compressor with only 23 hours of use.

Beginning with a surplus 1967 Army vehicle, Ware County, GA, firefighters' efforts were rewarded when they put this mobile air compressor unit in service 24 months later.

Photos by Jimmy Brown

When the body design was finished, a local industrial company began the construction process, which took 13 weeks. After the body was completed, it was painted and mounted on the chassis. The gasoline engine and compressor were then installed.

To make the unit complete we installed a purification system. The system we purchased purifies 57,400 cfm of air with a 5,000-psi working pressure.

In addition, we added an electronic carbon monoxide monitor to record any impurities. The air was tested and approved by an Underwriters Research Laboratory.

The unit also has a 24-bottle storage area, four bulk air storage tanks, and four fill stations. It was then equipped with lights, sirens, and a 16-channel radio.

After 24 months the mobile air unit was completed. The total cost of designing and building the unit was an unbelievably low $10,500. A fire truck representative appraised its worth at more than $60,000.

There are only four mobile air units that we know of in Georgia. Our equipment is ready to respond to any firefighting unit in the area. It is ready to supply fresh breathing air to help the firefighters combat a structure fire or hazardous material incident.

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