Threatening Gasoline Tanker Fire Quickly Controlled by Modified Type 155 Crash Truck Using Fog Foam

IN thirty seconds on the afternoon of June 24, 1948, a hot gasoline fire that might have had grave consequences was brought under control at LaGuardia Airport, New York City. The fact that there were no grave consequences is a testimonial to well trained, efficient men of The Port of New York Authority emergency crew and their utilization of modern developments in fire-fighting equipment and techniques. Incidentally, the fire provided the first actual use of an Army 155 emergency crash truck that had been modified for the use of fog-foam.

The fire broke out at 5:40 p.m. at the rear end of a tank truck containing 4,000 gallons of aviation gasoline. Orangecolored flames shot fifteen or twenty feet into the air, licking the wing of a DC-6 airliner. At 5:46 p.m. the fire was entirely out and all possibility of re-kindle had been eliminated; the truck and ground around it were blanketed by foam.

Aside from the potential danger to lives, more than $1,300,000 worth of planes and other equipment was saved from destruction. The plane whose wing was over the fire was an American Airlines DC-6, valued at more than $800,000. Only fifty feet away was a Capital Airlines DC-4 valued at nearly $500,000. Several baggage and utility trucks were parked nearby.

So quickly was the fire extinguished that damage was confined to the rear end of the truck and to some freight and mail that was about to be put aboard the DC-6. The plane was undamaged and took off on a commercial flight a few hours later. The gasoline truck was able to drive off under its own power. New York City firemen, responding to the alarm from the Jackson Heights stations outside the airport arrived to find the fire already out.

Gasoline Tanker Fire After Extinguishment Rapid attack, using fog-foam quickly snuffed a hot spill fire that threatened large plane (rear) and loaded gasoline tanker. Nose of Model 155 crash truck at right. Note portable extinguishers which were unsuccessful in controlling blaze.Fog-Foam Controls Hazardous Gasoline Airport Fire in Seconds A DC-6 and other property at LaGuardia Airport was threatened recently by a blazing gasoline fire when tanker was servicing big plane. Port of New York Authority firemen using modified 155 crash truck are shown in operation as fire was licked.

It has been determined that the blaze as caused when a slip coupling parted in the aft pumping compartment, possibly because of vibration, spraying gasoline over the pump engine. The truck had been topping off the fuel supply in the wing tanks of the plane, and had put in 150 gallons of the 250 needed.

The Air Traffic Control Tower, which is operated by the Civil Aeronautics Administration, sounded the alarm to both the Port Authority Fire and Rescue Crew, and the New York-City Fire Department, and alerted all aircraft approaching the field, as well as ground stations. While the fire departments were en route, efforts were made by Port Authority and airlines personnel in the immediate vicinity to fight tfie blaze with portable extinguishers; but because of the intense heat they were unable to get close enough for their efforts to be effective. Within one minute of the alarm four pieces of Port Authority apparatus arrived and went into action, having raced four-fifths of a mile down the airport apron from the fire house.

The main unit of Port Authority fire fighting equipment is a Class 155 army type crash truck which has been modified by the Port Authority for fog-foam generation. In addition, other pieces are a Class 125 army type truck with three handlines, two for water and one for liquid foam pickup; a light truck, which is a mobile fast-acting apparatus, and a 2,500-gallon water carrier.

Most of the extinguishment of this fire was accomplished by a turret equipped with a Rockwood R2 ball type valve and special nozzle that delivers 200 gallons of foam a minute. Also aboard the modified 155 are three hand lines which deliver thirty gallons a minute each, and a ground sweep with capacity of ninety gallons a minute.

The nozzle, said to be the first of its kind to be installed, was selected for this specific type of job. It was developed to meet Port Authority requirements in dealing with aviation gasoline and aircraft.

Cooperating in the development were Arno F. Hirschel, the Port Authority’s superintendent of mechanical maintenance; R. D. Mahaney, safety engineer at Washington National Airport, and engineers of the Rockwood Sprinkler Co., Worcester, Mass. Experiments were conducted at National Airport and at New York International Airport at Idlewild.

Originally the nozzle on the No. 155 crash truck was for water and water fog. The task was to adapt the unit so that the needed mixture of foam and water could be delivered at the requisite pressures. This first actual fire operation graphically demonstrated the effectiveness of the new equipment and brought comments in the form of a letter to Billings Wilson, Port Authority Director of Operations from L. G. Fritz, American Airlines Vice President in charge of Operations:

* The editors arc indebted to the Port of New York Authority for this account of what is believed to be the first practical application of fog foam in the Type 155 crash truck applied in extinguishing an actual fire on an American airport,

“Please extend the sincere thanks of American Airlines to the members of the LaGuardia Fire and Rescue Unit who did such an excellent job of controlling and extinguishing the fire in a gas truck at Gate 4C, LaGuardia Field, on the evening of last Thursday, June 24. . . . There is no doubt that their prompt reponse and efficient handling of their apparatus were the main factors in preventing this fire from developing to serious proportions. They set an excellent example of what can be accomplished by a well trained fire squad and are a credit to both the fire fighting profession and to The Port of New York Authority.”

All Port Authority Fields to Have This Equipment

As the result of nearly a year of testing, new fire fighting machines are being built for the Port Authority, embodying innovations in design and equipment. Three are on order, one each for LaGuardia, New York International and Newark Airports. The first is scheduled for delivery in four months, the balance in six months.

The modified 155 carries 1,000 gallons of water and 75 gallons of liquid foam. The 9 per cent mixture is obtained through a special proportioner. In the June 24 fire 1,500 gallons of water and 90 gallons of liquid foam were used. Upon arrival at the fire the supplementary water carrier truck was connected with No. 155 to replenish the supply. Incidentally, because fighting fires at an airport is likely to take equipment far from a water hydrant, the Port Authority now has on order a tank truck with greater capacity.

For those not entirely familiar with the 155 it may be well to describe its nature. It is regarded at this time as the largest high-pressure water (and now fog-foam) truck; it is a 6 x 6 (six-wheel, six-wheel drive) unit. The engine develops 180 brake horsepower at 2750 R.P.M. Gross weight is approximately 38,000 pounds when loaded with 1,000 gallons of water.

There is a rear-mounted 2-or 4-stage series centrifugal pump with a direct connection from an auxiliary engine. This installation makes unnecessary the usual clutch and transmission systems, which are commonly used on other trucks. Pressure control valves are found at the driver’s seat and on the deck in front of the forward turret gun.

The three 100-foot high pressure fogfoam hand lines, the turret nozzle and ground sweep, plus other accessories and materials aboard, make the truck a powerful fire-fighting unit.

The auxiliary water truck was obtained from the New York City Department of Sanitation, which used it to flush the city streets. Because of its large water and pump capacities it is valuable for replenishing fire-fighting units with water. The supplemental water carrier truck can be spotted close to the crash equipment and refills it from the large reserve tank. Its value as an important fire fighting agent is obvious.

Firemen Using Fog-Foam Prevent Re-Kindle in Tanker Fire Turret pipe with large fog-foam nozzle (left rear) and hand line (right center) operating on rear of tanker as spreading fire is controlleed. View is taken from under side of exposed DC-6 plane which was being loaded with passengers and gas at time. Note extent of foam patter.

The water carrier is mounted on a single chassis with a 4 x 2 conventional power drive. The pump is a centrifugal type and is mid-mounted, furnishing 750 gallons at 75 pounds pressure through a single hose. The pump is energized from a power takeoff furnished by the truck engine. Control levers are mounted in the driver’s cab, and two of them control the water force. One engages the power drive, the other meters the water flow.

The Class 125 crash truck is mounted on a 4 x 2, half-ton chassis. It weighs about 11,500 pounds with its full load of 300 gallons. Its foam solution tank capacity is 20 gallons, and its pump capacity is 50 to 60 gallons a minute with two hand lines operating. Maximum pump pressure is 600 to 800 pounds per square inch; a relief valve keeps the pressure from above the maximum.

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