Panama City - Air Force firefighters now have a new high-powered tool thanks to technology developed at the Air Force Research Lab on Tyndall Air Force Base. The P-34 Rapid Intervention Vehicle uses ultra high-pressure technology to fight jet fuel fires faster and cheaper.
It's small, but it packs a big punch. The Air Force's new P-34 Rapid Intervention Vehicle is more efficient and more effective than the P-19 fire truck bases across the country are currently using. The P-34 uses ultra high pressure technology to fight jet-fuel fires much faster. "It kind of works similar to a pressure washer. With traditional fire fighting methods a lot of volume of water is wasted whereas with UHP, smaller droplets, smaller particles of water absorb the heat and knocks the fire down quicker," said Jim Podolske, Program Manager for the Air Force's Fire Emergency Services.
The Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency, headquartered at Tyndall, started working on the technology five years ago. Two-hundred and thirty-eight P-34s will soon be rolled out to the entire Air Force, Tyndall was the first to receive one of these vehicles, due in large part to the fact they helped develop the ultra high pressure technology.
Several training exercises using the P-34 took place at Tyndall just a few weeks ago. The airmen are impressed. "It's definitely more water efficient and easier to fight more fires and not have to worry about refilling the water," said A1C Derek Jubert. "The hand line replaced the inch and three quarters with the single inch and makes life definitely a lot easier," said A1C Jubert. "This vehicle here is a 500 gallon equivalent vehicle, it's 3.5 times as effective as a large truck so it's like having a 1,500 or a 1,750 gallon fire vehicle in terms of fire fighting capability," said Podolske.
With a pricetag of about $160,000, the P-34's are also much cheaper than the P-19 which cost more than $500,000. "The United States Air Force has always prided itself on being innovative, taking advantage of technology, trying to save money, being more efficient, this vehicle definitely does that for us," said Podolske. Commercial airports have already started contacting Podolske, they'd like to utilize the UHP technology at their civilian facilities as well.