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Types of Fire Engines & Water Tenders

types of fire engines

We are often asked what the main differences are among the fire engines we build. Though Boise Mobile Equipment (BME) is largely known for safe and durable wildland fire engines, we manufacture a wide range of apparatus for virtually any fire incident.

So how does the fire industry classify different types of fire engines? You may have seen our blog outlining the seven main categories of apparatus and their functions. We wanted to display this content in an easy-to-read chart that can be seen at a glance. That’s why we took the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) Typing Standards chart and gave it a face lift, making it more accessible to the average viewer.

standards for types of fire engines

But firefighting vehicles don’t stop there. There are several other types of rigs that firefighters use on the line, including Water Tenders. We’ve also listed the different models and requirements for water-transporting vehicles, as defined by the NWCG Typing Standards.

At BME, we’re dedicated to providing departments with the right apparatus, whether it be a Type 3 Fire Engine, a Type 6 Brush Truck, or a Type 1 Pumper. Need something that falls outside these categories? We offer completely custom builds to meet the specific requirements of every department, like this Emergency Response Unit for Santa Fe Springs. BME builds a wide selection of apparatus to tackle any situation.

How to Prepare and Evacuate for a Wildfire

evacuate for a wildfire

Prevention

No matter where you live, you may be at risk for wildfires. Several steps can be taken to ensure you are prepared for the unexpected circumstance of a fire while safely evacuating your family from your home. One of the simplest ways for minimizing or preventing wildfire damage to your property is known as fire mitigation.

The most effective strategy to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire is by creating defensible space around your property. It is recommended that you create two defensible space zones; a 30 foot and 100 foot zone, within this area you can take steps to reduce potential exposure to flames and radiant heat. Each zone will create a buffer between structures on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland surrounding it.

Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. If your home sits on a steep slope, standard protective measures may not suffice. Contact your local fire department or forestry office for additional information. 

wildfire preparedness week

Whether you live in a fire zone or live in the city it is important to have defensible space around your home. Along with defensible space it is also important to consider the following to protect your property and home:

Property Checklist

  • Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs, and clear out all flammable vegetation
  • Remove leaves and rubbish from under structures
  • Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns, and remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground
  • Remove dead branches that extend over the roof
  • Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet
  • Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines
  • Remove vines from the walls of the home
  • Mow grass regularly
  • Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks and the barbecue
  • Place a screen over the barbecue grill—use non flammable material with mesh no coarser than one quarter inch
  • Regularly dispose of newspapers and rubbish at an approved site and follow local burning regulations
  • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket, soak in water for 2 days; then bury the cold ashes in mineral soil
  • Store gasoline, oily rags and other flammable materials in approved safety cans, and place the cans in a safe location away from the base of buildings
  • Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home, and clear combustible material within 20 feet
  • Use only wood-burning devices evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
  • Review your homeowner's insurance policy and also prepare/update a list of your home's contents

Prevention Checklist

  • Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind: select materials and plants that can help contain fire rather than fuel it.
  • Use fire-resistant or noncombustible materials on the roof and exterior structure of the dwelling, or treat wood or combustible material used in roofs, siding, decking or trim with fire-retardant chemicals.
  • Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees (for example, hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees)
  • Regularly clean roof and gutters.
  • Inspect chimneys at least twice a year. Clean them at least once a year. Keep the dampers in good working order. Equip chimneys and stovepipes with a spark arrester that meets the requirements of National Fire Protection Association Standard 211.
  • Use 1/8-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic
  • Install a dual-sensor smoke alarm on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms; test monthly and change the batteries at least once each year
  • Teach each family member how to use a fire extinguisher (ABC type) and show them where it's kept
  • Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chain saw, bucket and shovel
  • Keep a ladder that will reach the roof
  • Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes
  • Clear items that will burn from around the house, including wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc. Move them outside of your defensible space
  • Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool or hydrant
  • Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property
  • Install freeze-proof exterior water outlets on at least two sides of the home and near other structures on the property. Install additional outlets at least 50 feet from the home.
  • Consider obtaining a portable gasoline powered pump in case electrical power is cut off

Preparation

Before a wildfire it is crucial to protect your home and prepare for evacuations. If you live in an area under threat by wildfire, pay attention to official channels for evacuation orders. Make sure every member of your family has a bag packed with essential items to last you multiple days away from home. Along with each members disaster supply kit, make sure you have a family emergency plan and a means of transportation standing by. 

wildfire evacuation preparedness
  • A 3-day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day) and food that won’t spoil
  • A 3-day supply of water and food for each pet in your household
  • One change of clothing and footwear per person
  • One sleeping bag or blanket per person
  • A first aid kit that includes your family’s prescription medications
  • Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlight, and plenty of extra batteries
  • An extra set of car keys, credit card, cash, or travelers checks
  • Sanitary & hygiene supplies
  • Special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members
  • An extra pair of eyeglasses

Once you have each kit packed, maintain them on a yearly basis by replacing expired items and rethinking the necessary contents. Food and cans should be packed and kept in cool, dry places. Keeping emergency kits at home, in your car and at work are all good ideas since you never know where you’ll be when you need to evacuate.

Evacuation

Depending on your evacuation orders, an immediate evacuation of your home may be necessary. If there are evacuations in your area you should monitor local radio and news stations. Be prepared to leave at any time and if asked to evacuate, do so.  If you have time prior to evacuating the following four steps will aid in protecting your home and assisting fire fighters in their efforts. 

  1. Keep all doors and windows closed in your home.
  2. Remove flammable drapes, curtains, awnings or other window coverings.
  3. Keep lights on to aid visibility in case smoke fills the house.
  4. If sufficient water is available, turn sprinklers on to wet the roof and any water-proof valuables.
wildfire evacuation
Along with these items it is important to have an evacuation plan prepared that you and your family members are all familiar with. The checklist below will help your family  create the right plan. Each family’s plan will be different, depending on a variety of issues, needs, and situations. Create an evacuation plan that includes:
  • A designated emergency meeting location outside the fire or hazard area. This is critical to determine who has safely evacuated from the affected area.
  • Several different escape routes from your home and community. Practice these often so everyone in your family is familiar in case of emergency.
  • Have an evacuation plan for pets and large animals such as horses and other livestock.
  • Family Communication Plan that designates an out-of-area friend or relative as a point of contact to act as a single source of communication among family members in case of separation. (It is easier to call or message one person and let them contact others than to try and call everyone when phone, cell, and internet systems can be overloaded or limited during a disaster.

The 6 P's

In the event of a quick evacuation, remember the 6 P’s! By having these items prepared ahead of time, you can grab them on a moments notice and evacuate safely. 

  1. People & pets
  2. Papers, phone numbers, & important documents
  3. Prescriptions, vitamins, and eye glasses
  4. Pictures and irreplaceable memorabilia
  5. Personal computer, hard drives, and disks
  6. “Plastic” (Credit Cards, ATM Cards, and Cash)

Prevention is Key

Every year across the U.S., major wildfires test homeowners and firefighters, some homes survive while many others do not. Those that survive almost always do so because their owners had prepared for the eventuality of fire, which is an inescapable force of nature in fire-prone woodland areas. Another way we think of it as, if it’s predictable, it’s preventable!

The best way to protect your home and family during a wildfire is by adding prevention and preparation into your routine. There is a lot of steps to take to be prepared but they can make the difference between saving your home and potentially your life. 

BME Receives $9.8 Million Dollar Tag-On from Cal OES

Cal OES

Boise Mobile Equipment (BME) received a $9.8 million dollar tag-on to produce Wildland Model 34 engines for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). BME will produce twenty-five CAL FIRE spec Model 34 apparatus to be delivered in 2020.

Cal OES coordinates fire mutual aid resources throughout the state of California. The agency responds to a wide range of disasters, making the Model 34 engine a highly important asset.

The BME Model 34 apparatus is built to handle the toughest terrain. Its rugged durability allows firefighters to respond to both wildland fires and provide structure protection in the wildland-urban interface, navigating rough roads and narrow driveways that pose problems for urban pumpers.

BME has over twenty-nine years of experience producing wildland apparatus for state and federal government agencies. BME engines have become essential in the fleets of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the United States Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Interested in tagging on to the CAL Fire order? Email us at sales@bmefire.com or visit our wildland page for more information.

Ad Campaign Highlights the Durability of BME Apparatus

type 3 fire apparatus

Last month we kicked off Boise Mobile Equipment’s 2019 ad campaign. Today marks our second ad in the series, featured in the March issue of Firehouse Magazine. While the first ad highlighted BME’s safety innovations, this month we focus on the durability of our wildland apparatus.

Wildland firefighting offers a unique set of challenges that are very different from structural firefighting. The roads are much rougher in the wildland, if there are roads at all. Wildland apparatus must be designed to handle these hazards when responding to fires in some of the country’s most inaccessible areas. BME trucks are built to withstand the worst the wildland can throw at you, taking you where other vehicles can’t go.

type 4 fire engine, type 6 fire engine, type 3 fire engine

Built for the Wildland

Every detail of a BME wildland apparatus is carefully considered in the context of the environment it will be used in. One of these details is our signature tubular body construction, the feature that makes our engines the safest on the market. The steel framework also increases the apparatus’ rugged durability, allowing it to handle the toughest fire response.

The secret to the body’s durability is in its materials. We build our tubular bodies with strong structural steel that withstands vibration far better than aluminum. The body is then mounted on the chassis in a flexible manner that allows for maximum twist without stressing the truck components. This is an essential part of any wildland apparatus since uneven terrain forces the truck to go through extreme twisting action that it doesn’t encounter on city roads.

Another aspect of BME rigs’ durability lies in their heavy duty doors. While most manufacturers build their fire trucks with roll-up doors, we choose to use formed and welded doors that are better suited for the wildland environment. The doors are attached with piano-style hinges with oversized pins, reducing wear and the amount of dirt that gets in. To keep dust out of the compartments, we dovetail the doors into the body and use neoprene bulb seal. These two inch thick doors are so strong that once a customer accidentally left the overhead doors of his apparatus open and they ended up slicing through five palm trees before they noticed.

Size is also an important factor that determines where a truck can go. Because of the varying kinds of wildland fire incidents, we offer a wide selection of wildland apparatus to tackle any situation. Our most popular build is the Type 3, but we also produce many Model 34s, Type 4s, Type 6s, Tactical Tenders, and Crew Carriers. Our Xtreme 6, an aggressive version of a Type 6, is especially suited for hard to access areas that larger engines can’t reach.

Type 6 fire engine

Peak Performance

We make conscious decisions during every step of the building process to ensure that our apparatus perform to maximum capacity. As BME vice president Larry Segreto explains, “[our] unique body design provides the lowest mounting of the mass of the water tank, maximizing stability for improved high-speed handling, side hill operation, and full use of available water.” We refuse to take shortcuts because we know that lives depend on how our trucks perform in the field.

That being said, accidents do happen and maintenance is sometimes required. That’s why we’ve made minor repairs easier than ever so you can fix your apparatus on the field and get right back into action. Our apparatus are hardwired with very little use of Multiplex systems or Nodes, making them simpler to repair on the go.

Type 3 Brush Truck
Photo by South Metro Fire Rescue

Longer Service Lifespans

Nothing proves the durability of our apparatus more than our customers. Some of our regular customers have large fleets of BME rigs, including the US Forest Service, the National Parks Service, and CAL FIRE. Many of our trucks have been in the field for over twenty years. You can still see BME Type 3s from the 90s responding to fires in west coast forests.

Our trucks have longer lifespans than our competitors because we refuse to take shortcuts. Building the BME way means we put thought into every step of the process, constructing high quality apparatus that get the job done year after year. That’s the BME difference.

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