It’s not often an organization buys a million-dollar piece of equipment hoping it never has to use it. But that’s what the Santa Maria Public Airport did recently.

The airport purchased a Stryker 3000 ARFF truck (Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting) from Oshkosh Corp. earlier this year, and the shiny, new truck was finally delivered July 29. Cost for the truck and associated equipment is roughly $1 million.  However, the airport didn’t foot the entire bill. The Federal Aviation Administration picked up about 90 percent of the cost.

Both firefighters and airport personnel are getting to know the massive new truck.

“It’s an amazing piece of equipment,” said Santa Maria Fire Chief Dan Orr. “It’s about twice the size of our current truck. It’s probably the most technologically advanced vehicle we have to operate. It’s like sitting inside the cockpit of a fighter jet.”  The cockpit features a console that has more joysticks than an Xbox. They control an array of firefighting devices including a high reach extendable turret (HRET) which is essentially a long boom with a variety of tools that can reach out into a fire.

“All the controls are designed for one firefighter, one operator, so he can drive the truck, maneuver the high reach extendable turret or the bumper turret, and he can go into full pump readiness at top speed,” said Mike Peterson, western regional sales manager for Oshkosh Corp. “He can be rolling in at 50 mph and start to discharge before he stops.”

The truck holds 3,000 gallons of water, 420 gallons of pure foam concentrate, and 500 pounds of dry chemical. The operator, Carlos Rollon, ARFF Specialist with the Santa Maria Fire Department, can disperse all of those through a high volume nozzle that can handle 750 gallons per minute.

The HRET also features a camera that feeds images to a console-mounted video screen, and a device that looks like a giant pump needle, the kind used for inflating footballs and basketballs. This needle, though, is used to penetrate the soft aluminum skin of an aircraft to extinguish a fire inside a fuselage.

Everybody is raving about the truck’s speed and maneuverability. Orr, Peterson and Rollon all said the truck’s zero-to-50 mph time of 35 seconds is blinding.  While it might not compare to the 2.5 seconds it takes a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport to reach 60 mph, it’s pretty quick for a 87,000-pound truck.  “That’s very fast,” said Orr, who added the truck’s six-wheel drive and fully independent suspension means it can roll over all sorts of obstacles at speeds up to 35 mph comfortably.  The truck’s rear tires also help steer, which makes it more maneuverable and saves on tire wear.

Rollon said that speed, along with the newly configured fencing around the station will improve Station No. 6’s response times by 15 to 20 seconds in case of an emergency.

As nice as it is to have the new toy, it’s not in service yet. Rollon and other firefighters will be training with Oshkosh representatives over the next two weeks to learn all of the details.  “It’s quite a piece of machinery. Like anything new it will be a huge learning curve for us,” Orr said. “We’re very excited by it. It’s going to increase our capabilities, obviously.”

The truck is so big it doesn’t fit in the station’s equipment bays. As part of the purchase, the airport board of directors has instituted a number of side projects to improve emergency response.

J. F. Will Company recently finished a $400,000 construction project that improved paving and fencing around the airport fire station. Expanding the size of the station to get the new truck inside will be another $150,000.

And of course there was the roughly $1 million for the new truck. Airport General Manager Chris Hastert said the board of directors decided to make the investment to protect the safety of the flying public. Part of that commitment was deciding to kick in just over $53,000 to purchase the larger truck.

He said the airport’s new seasonal service to Hawaii, along with charter service for the Cal Poly football team both bring in larger aircraft to the airport. Knowing that, the board found it wise to get a larger ARFF.

“Our board really does value the safety of the passengers flying in and out of the airport,” Hastert said. “We hope we never have to use the vehicle, but we wanted to protect the lives of the passengers flying in here.”

August 11, 2013  Brian Bullock/


ARFF by the numbers

Acceleration: 0 to 50 mph in 35 seconds

Top Speed: 70 mph

Side Slope Stability (Static): >30°

Gradeability: Ascend/descend a 60% grade

Vehicle Clearance Circle: 117 ft.

Dimensions: 475 in. length; 122 in. width (excluding rear view mirrors); 136 in. height without HRET; 150 in. with HRET



Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)

Cab: Aluminum construction; seating for up to five

Engine: Caterpillar C-16 diesel; four cycle; in-line six; 680 bhp (506 Kw) minimum at 2,100 rpm with a peak torque of 1,950 ft. lbs. @ 1,400 rpm Transmission: Allison 4800 EVS; electronic; 7-speed; automatic

Suspension: Oshkosh TAK-4 independent system with dual control arms and single coil spring; up to 16 in. of wheel end travel

Tires: Michelin® 24R21 XZL

GVWR: 87,000 lb.

Wheelbase: 236 in.

Firefighting equipment

Roof Turret: Non-aspirating; electric joystick control; 600/1200 gpm

Bumper Turret: Non-aspirating; electric joystick control; 300 gpm

Hand lines (Foam/Water): Two pre-connect type (one each side) with 150 ft. of 1.75 in. ID hose and a 125 gpm pistol-grip nozzle

Water Tank: 3,000 gallon capacity

Foam Tank: 420 gallon capacity

Fire Pump: Power divider driven Waterous CRQA; single stage centrifugal 1,950 gpm at 240 psi