The Cayman Islands Fire Service (CIFS) will soon add a new, modern aerodrome fire truck to its fleet, which will be based at the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport fire station on Cayman Brac.
Fire Chief David Hails has officially signed the contract for the new firefighting vehicle, with a price tag of $599,328 KYD.
A United States manufacturer, Rosenbauer Minnesota, LLC, will supply the CIFS with the new engine, a Panther 6×6.
The bright green model will replace the Osh Kosh brand firetruck that overturned on the airport runway during a performance test on 5 January 2017. It will be fully equipped with all the essentials for fighting aviation fires, plus several advanced features never seen in the Cayman Islands.
“One new feature that the Panther has is a twin-agent fire extinguishing system, which will spray foam and a dry chemical at the same time,” Chief Hails explained. “Essentially, the powder in the dual nozzle knocks down the fire rapidly, while the foam secures the hazard by laying a vapor-suppressing blanket on the fuel and helping to cool it. It’s also a fantastic tool for dealing with pressurised fuel fires, where we can use a water cone to contain the fire then use the dry chemical to extinguish it. This means firefighters can get closer to the fire and extinguish it under controlled and safe conditions.”
The CIFS will also receive free training on both the operation and maintenance on the fire truck, which was negotiated into the contract at no extra cost.
“The Panther also has a driver’s cab with a panoramic view, full LED lighting and several other innovative features that will allow for maximum power, safety and functionality when responding to a fire emergency, the fire chief added. “It is also fitted with a forward looking infrared FLIR camera, which is a first on-board thermal imaging camera of its kind for the Cayman Islands. This camera allows the driver to see objects and casualties in restricted vision conditions such as darkness, smoke or fog.”
Chief Hails said he and his colleagues will fly to the Rosenbauer location in the next few weeks to do all the final checks before the new engine makes its way to Cayman Brac in March. Once the final inspection is completed, it will take around two weeks for the fire truck to be shipped.
The cost of the firefighting engine that was damaged in the incident was $425,387. Chief Hails said that fire truck was purchased for the CIFS about 10 years ago.
The last time a new fire truck was purchased for the CIFS was 2008 and Cayman Brac has not received a new fire truck since 2006.
The money used to purchase the new vehicle were funds the Ministry of Home Affairs already had budgeted for a fire truck replacement for this fiscal year.
The two fire officers involved in the incident are on injury leave at this time. Investigations into what caused the crash are still ongoing.