Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport Deploys New Firefighting Vehicle

Aug. 11, 2020

In 2015 the City of Kansas City, Mo., Aviation Department opened a 2,900 square-foot Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting (ARFF) facility at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport (MKC) to enhance the airport’s emergency response and increase safety for airport users.

While the facility is considered unmanned, the midfield facility provides the infrastructure to house two ARFF vehicles and train assigned Kansas City Fire Department structural companies in Federal Aviation Administration standards. The building contains two side-by-side bays for ARFF vehicles and was designed to accommodate larger vehicles anticipated in the future.

The future is now as the airport has taken delivery of a new 3,000-gallon 2020 Oshkosh Global Striker Class V ARFF vehicle. Firefighters can now attack much larger aircraft with a big enough tool to effectively do the job. The previous truck had one-fourth of the water and foam capacity with one-fifth the flow of the new truck.

This additional capacity is needed. MKC is a Federal Aviation Regulation Part 139 certificated airport with the designation of Firefighting Index “A”. Ordinarily this would only require a small Class III crash response vehicle because of the expected risks posed by smaller aircraft with their smaller fuel and passenger loads. While there is no ticketed passenger service, MKC has experienced significant growth in charter flights over the last 12 years. It is common to see passenger airline-sized aircraft at Downtown Airport. Additionally, the business aviation aircraft “hangared” at MKC as well as itinerant business aviation aircraft have increased in size over the recent years. It is not unusual to see Gulfstream G550s and G650s traveling in and out of the airport.

“This truck can apply much more agent, for a longer period of time, in adverse conditions, and still be much more effective than its predecessor,” said KCFD ARFF Chief Matt Mauer. “There is currently no vehicle available to us that has a greater knockdown capability. Seconds count when dealing with human lives, aircraft and fire.”

“The new ARFF vehicle allows firefighters to provide much more protection for those large-aircraft charters that routinely fly in and out of Downtown Airport, as well as large business and general aviation aircraft that operate at the Downtown Airport,” said Airport Manager Melissa Cooper, A.A.E. “This truck would be a front line vehicle at any of the busiest airports in the world.”

The Striker provides fast acceleration and delivers increased fuel economy from the 700-hp engine. It also provides a lower center of gravity, tighter turning radius and controlled ride via all-wheel independent suspension. Three Striker vehicles protect Kansas City International Airport. At $748,632, the truck was funded by a federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant at 90 percent federal cost and 10 percent cost to the Aviation Department from airport revenue. An existing ARFF truck will remain on hand to supplement the new vehicle.

2020 Oshkosh Global Striker Class V ARFF vehicle features:

OEM 2020 by Oshkosh Truck Corporation

    • 3000-gallon capacity water tank
    • 420-gallon capacity AFFF metered at 3 percent
    • 450-lb capacity potassium-based Dry Chemical
    • 625 gpm (low) – 1250 gpm (high) electric joystick controlled Bumper Turret with encapsulating foam/dry chemical nozzle
    • 625 gpm (low) – 1250 gpm (high) joystick controlled Roof Turret with foam/water nozzle
    • 100 ft. twin-agent hose hand line with hydro-chem hand gun nozzle and electric rewind reel
    • 2 Class B:C rated Dry Chemical fire extinguishers
    • 1 Class D rated Dry Chemical fire extinguisher
    • Roof-mounted thermal imaging camera
    • 2 clean agent fire extinguishers
    • Eco EFP input-based foam proportioning measurement system