New weapon in firefighting for airport

01:47, Feb 14 2014
NEW ON THE SCENE: One of the airport's new Panther fire engines - capable of blasting 19,000 litres of water in two minutes.

Two Panthers will soon be prowling Wellington Airport but airline passengers needn't worry about being mauled by big cats.

These beauties are new state-of-the-art fire trucks.

The Austrian-made Rosenbauer CA5 Panthers - each holding 9500 litres of water and 1500 litres of foam - will in March replace the airports two current fire trucks which have been in operation for 20 years.

All up the Panthers cost $2.8 million, which includes items such as fit out, transportation from Austria, and compliance.

Airport fire crew chief Vinnie Sharp said firefighting was all about getting fire retardant on to a fire in the quickest possible time.

''We can now put 19,000 litres of water and 3000 litres of foam on a fire in less than two minutes.''


While the old trucks' turrets had a range of 60 metres, the new Panthers' roof turrets have a range of 85m - just a few metres shy of a football field.

Bumper mounted turrets on the trucks have a range of 65m.

The airport's airfield manager Daniel Debono said the new vehicles were custom made, complete with  specifically for Wellington Airport.

"When dealing with fire, time saves lives. We wanted to ensure we had the best equipment available to respond as quickly as possible in emergency situations.''

Other features of the trucks include built-in thermal imaging equipment, computerised systems which link data for vehicle tracking and monitoring, push button controls, and a 690-horsepower Volvo engine.

A specialist from Rosenbauer Austria will train fire service personnel over the next few weeks before the trucks are commissioned.

The airport has 24 fire service personnel trained in a range of emergency response techniques.

They are qualified to handle a variety of situations including marine rescue, medical emergencies, as well as firefighting.

The Dominion Post