Gas Turbine Engine Fire Apparatus
Chief William F. Murray, San Francisco Fire Department, recently authorized the modification of present apparatus specifications to permit the submission of a proposal whereby a gas turbine engine will be considered in lieu of the conventional gasoline-driven piston-type engine in one triple-combination pumper.
San Francisco thus becomes the first city in the United States to pioneer in the fire service a new motive power development.
Chief Murray issued the following statement on January 14:
“San Francisco is both proud and privileged to pioneer the use of gas turbine engines in fire apparatus. Reflecting the historical improvement of fire apparatus from hand-drawn and hand-operated to horse-drawn and steam-operated to the present gasoline piston engine power take-off for pump operation, it is axiomatic that progress must be served by providing an opportunity to evaluate gas turbine engines in the fire service. The experience, skill and technological advance in engineering must be utilized if the fire service is to keep abreast of all newly developed engineering principles.”
The gas turbine engine built by Boeing Aircraft Co., Seattle, Wash., is described as a 320-pound unit capable of producing 325 net horsepower in a case approximately 2 feet high, 2 feet wide and 3 feet long, easily handled by two men manually. Startup time to full power is achieved approximately 10 seconds after engagement of the starter button and no warm-up period is required. Maximum torque is developed at low speeds which appears particularly adaptable to the necessary hill operation peculiar to San Francisco. Diesel oil, stove oil, kerosene and unleaded gasoline are some of the fuels suitable to and usable in this engine. Ease of maintenance is said to be featured.
American La France in association with the Boeing Airplane Company will jointly undertake the necessary engineering and design alteration required to produce an efficient and operationally functional fire apparatus utilizing this newly developed power unit.