The ARFF R&D Program is currently conducting a Heavy Rescue Vehicle Rollover Study. This is an investigation and study of the recent occurrences of airport heavy rescue vehicle rollovers/turnovers. The vehicles involved in these rollover incidents were manufactured in the United States (US) and certified to be in compliance with FAA specification designs for airport rescue vehicles. This will be a dynamic moving rollover study of performance specific requirements of the heavy rescue airport emergency vehicle and their dynamic stability requirements as well as the development of an online reporting system.
Forty-eight ARFF vehicle rollovers have occurred since 1977. Thirty-eight have occurred since 1990 and twenty-seven of these occurred since 1995. This is an alarming number of occurrences considering the few miles and operational hours that the rescue and fire services use these vehicles each year. What is even more puzzling is the fact that most of these occurrences have occurred in nonemergency response situations. Most of the documented cases occurred in training, practice, or in vehicles that were in transit for maintenance or other nonoperational reasons.
Because of the serious nature of the Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting (ARFF) response and the potential for loss of life of the operators of these vehicles as well as the safety of the flying public, this issue needs to be investigated. Should rollover situations occur under actual emergency response situations, it would put the flying public at great risk. Though few of these accidents have occurred in actual response situations, the high response speeds necessary to maintain recommended response requirements dictates that rescue vehicle drivers have the utmost confidence in the vehicles they are driving.
The ultimate step in civil airport firefighting vehicle safety is to provide vehicles which provide the operators with safety, operational efficiency, and the required ergonomics by providing realistic recommendations and changes to the FAA Advisory Circular 150/5220-10B. The top concern in a vehicle's construction should be safety. The vehicles that the FAA recommends for airport use should respond to the performance needs of the ARFF response. This is accomplished by providing rapid response, safe cornering at moderate to high speeds, greater stability under braking conditions in a turn, greater side slope stability, and improved off road/soft field response, with or without elevated boom devices installed.
Evaluation of Retrofit ARFF Vehicle Suspension Enhancement to Reduce Vehicle Rollovers
Contact Project Lead Nick Subbotin
Last Update: 02/04/13