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Monday, June 17, 2013
Station Life: Tanker 1
BFR has changed quite a bit since its inception in 1986. From hoses to ladders and from stations to people BFR has changed and grown right along with the community it serves. There are, however, aspects of BFR that serve as a reminder of how the department started out.
In the early days there were many areas of the city that didn’t have something that we take for granted as being on every corner: fire hydrants. Because of this, firefighters would have to depend on the water they brought with them on their fire truck. Since it wouldn’t be practical for firefighters to lug around gallon jugs of water in the cab of the fire engine, each fire apparatus had (and still does have) a tank built in that carries anywhere from 300 to 1,000 gallons of water depending on what type of fire truck it was. While this may seem like plenty of water, at the scene of a fire sometimes thousands of gallons may be needed to extinguish the fire completely.
In order to address this issue, the newly formed Brentwood Fire Department purchased Tanker 512 in 1986. Tanker 512 (now known as Tanker 1) is a 1986 GMC Top Kick built by 4 Guys Fire Trucks and equipped with a 1,650 gallon water tank and a 500 gallon per minute pump used to supply water to other fire apparatus. The number 512 was assigned to the tanker because in 1986 the fire department was the 5thcity department, the tanker was located at station 1 and tanker trucks were given the number 2. Once it was put in service Tanker 512 was put to good use responding to calls all over Brentwood.
Tanker 512 with Engine 510 and Engine 520 (now known as Engine 5) in 1986
BFR’s Tanker 1 is unique compared to the other fire trucks in Brentwood not only in its function but also due to where it has served. In early summer 1998 several large wildfires broke out in North Central Florida, burning almost half a million acres across several counties. Resources were called in from all over the United States in order to help protect homes and keep the fire from spreading further. One of these resources was Tanker 1! Brentwood Fire Department sent 2 firefighters and Tanker 1 to central Florida to assist in several tanker shuttles that were used to supply the large amount of brush trucks combating the fire. A tanker shuttle is when several tanker trucks operate in a relay to pick up water from a source, such as a hydrant or a lake, and deliver it to the fire scene for other fire trucks to use in fire suppression.
First Class! Tanker 1 is loaded into a National Guard airplane enroute to Central Florida.
Tanker 1 supplies a brush truck on the front lines of the Florida wildfire.
As the City of Brentwood has grown, so has the water distribution system. Because of this the role of Tanker 1 as a frontline apparatus has steadily declined. While it has remained available, Tanker 1 has only responded to one structure fire over the past five years. Hydrants now adorn nearly every corner of the City standing by like stoic sentinels waiting to be placed into action. Due to the water system expansion and the availability of high capacity pumpers which now carry up to 1,000 gallons of water, the decision has been made to retire Tanker 1 upon the arrival of Brentwood’s new fire engine which will replace Engine 2 at the Wilson Pike Station later this summer.
Not unlike an old firefighter, it will be a bittersweet moment as we see a once valuable member of our department retire and move on. Time and technology marches on, and the fire service here in Brentwood is no exception.
Tanker 1 as it appears today
Notice the large gray discharge on the back of Tanker 1. That’s part of the dump valve assembly. The dump valve is used to empty the tank relatively quickly into large temporary water tanks on a fire scene.
This is the 2100 gallon Fol-Da Tank that is kept on Tanker 1. The tank is used on fire scenes so that a tanker trucks can dump all of its water and go refill while the engines pump it from the tank to the hose lines. After use the Fol-Da-Tank is drained and simply folded up. When not in use it is kept on the side of Tanker 1.