Fire Department trains on new fire fighting vehicle
An Air Force staff sergeant from the Laughlin Fire Department tests a fire hose before participating in a training exercise at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, July 24, 2012. The fire department conducted their first day of hands-on training with the new P-34 Rapid Intervention Vehicle. The Air Force is switching to the new vehicle because of its high foam and water pressure combination is more effective than the older P-19 vehicle. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Scott Saldukas)
Fire Department trains on new fire fighting vehicle

by Airman 1st Class Nathan Maysonet
47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

7/30/2012 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The Laughlin Fire Department began training with a new tool in their fire prevention arsenal here July 24.

After two days of classroom instruction firefighters got to try their hand at putting out fires with the new P-34 Rapid Intervention Vehicle, the Air Force's newest firefighting truck.

"This new system allows fire fighters to get to the fire quickly and put it out," said Craig Wilgus, 47th Civil Engineer Squadron fire chief.

The new vehicle, which was first utilized on Air Force bases in 2011, uses a newly developed ultra-high pressure water and foam system to directly target fires and put them out in their early stages.

"It'll work wonders for us," said Antonio Rodriguez, 47th CES assistant chief of training. "That's what it is for, a quick knock down."

The higher pressure in which the firefighting foam and water is released makes the system more effective than the current P-19 truck the Laughlin Fire Department uses, explained Rodriguez.

The vehicle is also a tactical shift in how the department currently fights fires, Wilgus said. The P-34 is a direct attack vehicle with the unit approaching and fire crews spraying the fire at its source. The original P-19 is used indirectly and instead launches its firefighting agent atop the fire in what's called the rain drop effect.

"This system will reduce additional damages that often occur when putting out fires," he said. "Since most fires here are interior or engine fires this apparatus can be quickly applied rather than using a large load of agent that can cause more damage."

It's also easily applied to other situations such as vehicle and wild land fires, Wilgus said.

In addition to its firefighting benefits the vehicles themselves cost less than half the price of the older P-19, a major bonus in the Air Force's cost conscious culture.

"This system is different and growing on me," Wilgus said. "We'll see how it performs when we have our first fire, which I hope is a long time coming."

The day's hands on test were the first of many as fire crews ready themselves for its use.

"We will continue using it until we get real familiar with it," said Rodriguez. "This new tool will be a benefit across the Air Force."