Big Hazmat

The College Station (TX) haz-mat apparatus built by Hackney on a Spartan Gladiator chassis. (Photos by Hackney.)
The College Station (TX) haz-mat apparatus built by Hackney on a Spartan Gladiator chassis. (Photos by Hackney.)

To give you some background, College Station sits approximately 90 miles northwest of Houston and is the home of Texas A&M University. The fire department serves a population of more than 100,000 residents, plus the university. The department has six fully staffed and modern stations. The College Station Fire Department is also the lead agency for regional haz-mat incident response with a group made up of personnel from the College Station and Bryan Fire Departments and the Environmental Health and Safety Office of Texas A&M University.

Since the department had a large task of providing haz-mat response and mitigation to this vast area of target hazards, it had to expand and improve its response and vehicle. According to Captain Josh Varner, “Based on some past incidents that we responded to, we decided we needed to improve our resources.” The department responded to a large chemical fire in El Dorado several years ago. At this fire, various mutual-aid departments responded to the incident with multiple vehicles at different times. Because of this type of response, it was difficult to manage from an incident command standpoint.

“It was decided to investigate and begin planning a new multifunctional vehicle that could be used as a single point command vehicle plus handle and transport all of our equipment,” Varner says. “The goal was to have all of our haz-mat team members travel together and plan together at the same time.”

The trailer has large compartments and houses an air compressor and cascade system.

Vehicle Needs

The planning began in 2006. Unfortunately, the department was rejected three to four times for a federal grant, but it eventually received funding for the vehicle through the 2014 city budget. An old city hall building was sold along with an older dual pickup truck and 36-foot trailer that were used for response.

“In the meantime, we were invited to train with the Federal Emergency Management Agency Texas Task Force 1,” Varner says. “During this time, we evaluated our response and equipment carried. Our truck committee decided we needed to carry more air bottles and a compressor and cascade system. Also on the list was to upgrade our radioactive monitoring equipment, add a rehab space, and a command area for eight individuals. There was also a need for climate control and space for our Level A and B suits as well as various meters.”

After looking at several manufacturers and going out to bid, the committee chose Hackney. Hackney met all their specs and gave the committee a great deal for their money. Personnel traveled to the factory in North Carolina three times for prebuild, mid-build, and final inspection. The committee also looked at various vehicles online at the factory and even made some modifications to the unit incorporating other ideas. The design of the vehicle took into consideration future needs and space.

“Hackney was great to deal with on the build,” Varner says. “Their local salesperson worked hard with us and was very patient with all our ideas and concerns. It took roughly 13 months from design to delivery, which was great for us.”

The rear of the trailer with a ramp for a robot and an area for the command center.

Planning for the Future

The College Station Fire Department’s response area, along with its mutual-aid coverage, presents many target hazards, including railroad tank cars carrying anhydrous ammonia, bio labs at Texas A&M University, tractor trailers carrying haz mats, and large industrial parks having haz-mat considerations. The vehicle will respond with eight personnel with a minimum of four being haz-mat technicians. “We have been responding to roughly 100 incidents per year with response growing yearly,” Varner says.

The College Station Fire Department has a large target hazard response area concerning hazmat. It took a proactive stance in designing its new response vehicle and added needed equipment that it needed by evaluating and training with other agencies before the design.

It determined what it needed not only for the present but for the future as well. The vehicle it designed was big enough to add any new equipment in the future that it may need and provides a multifunctional trailer that extends the vast capabilities of the department and allows a large team to perform containment, monitoring, and mitigation from a single apparatus.

Bob Vaccaro has more than 40 years of fire service experience. He is a former chief of the Deer Park (NY) Fire Department. Vaccaro has also worked for the Insurance Services Office, the New York Fire Patrol, and several major commercial insurance companies as a senior loss-control consultant. He is a life member of the IAFC.

College Station Fire Department Haz-Mat Specs

  • Hackney model TDD1087, 37-foot drop-deck haz-mat trailer.
  • Drop-deck frame technology that permits low compartment ground height for increased access to the vast amount of equipment stored onboard.
  • A drop-down ramp on the rear of the trailer permits transport of a John Deere Gator all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or other types of wheeled vehicle. Floor tie-downs are provided in the anti-slip ribbed interior floor to secure the vehicle during transit.
  • A 13.5 feet long × 93 feet wide room in the rear of the trailer provides 80 feet of clear headroom. The room, other than housing the ATV, is used as an environmentally controlled science lab and logistics center. Desks and bench seating on the side walls fold up and out of the way when the ATV is stored. Two rooftop air conditioner units provide a comfortable environment in the high temperature and humidity extremes prevalent in south Texas.
  • A Spartan Gladiator extended long four-door custom tractor.
  • A 450-hp Cummins engine.
  • A 21,500-pound front and 27,000-pound rear axle.
  • An 18-inch extended stainless steel front bumper with recessed Q2B, air horns, and electronic siren speaker (2).
  • Eight-person seating positions in the cab with a slide-out stainless steel command desk behind the engine cover and upper cabinets above the four rear wall, forward facing seats.
  • A 24-inch-wide x 90-inch-high compartment module behind the tractor cab with roll-up doors.
  • Frame enclosure between the module and fifth wheel with integral access steps to the trailer roof access ladder and umbilical connections.
  • Side entrance door on curbside of the trailer to lab and logistics center used as primary access. Electric deploy and retract auxiliary step beneath door.
  • Roof storage compartments: Four, 120-inch-long × 26-inch-wide × 19.25-inch-high.
  • Electric deploy awnings on the left and right sides of trailer.
  • All Whelen LED warning light system and 12 VDC LED scene lights.
  • LED compartment light strips recessed into side walls of all compartments and applicable partitions.
  • Weather station with monitor mounted on telescoping pole.
  • 40-kW PTO generator with three-phase, 100-amp umbilical connector between tractor and trailer.
  • 30-amp shore power on trailer with automatic transfer relay supplying power to all interior trailer outlets and the environmental systems.
  • 240 VAC Hannay cord reel with 200-foot 10/4 cable split at the power distribution boxes into two separate 30 amp 120 VAC circuits on the four outlets.
  • Two Will-Burt light towers with FRC 1,500-watt Optimum flood lights. One tower is equipped with a monitoring camera that feeds a signal to a 42-inch LED television in the lab/logistics center.
  • Mako 20.7 cfm breathing air compressor with four 6,000-psi ASME receivers and two-bottle fill enclosure.
  • Breathing air hose reel with 250-foot 6,000-psi Synflex hose.
  • Two utility air outlets on trailer connected to the air compressor.
  • Chassis: Arrow XT™.
  • Body: Rescue pumper.
  • Actual overall height: Nine feet, eight inches.
  • Engine: Detroit Diesel DD13.
  • Horsepower: 500 hp.
  • Pump: Waterous midship 1,250 gpm.
  • Tank size: 500 gallons.
  • Generator: Harrison hydraulic 20-kW.
  • Additional: Whelen LED lighting package.

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September 2016
Volume 11, Issue 9
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