Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Oldest Subic fire truck still in active service

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority’s oldest fire truck is still being effectively used by the agency’s fire department to put out forest fires.

The 1956 model Howe International HR-62 R 185 Series fire truck with code number “2-1” is mostly deployed in fighting wildfires that are prevalent throughout the whole Naval Magazine (Navmag) area during the dry season.

“We acquired this truck when Subic Bay Freeport was still a US naval base. The US government turned it over in 1992, and we have since used the fire truck for various jobs,” SBMA Fire chief Rannie Magno said.

“The fire truck was used by the US military for airport operations in 1969 and had been at the forefront of the firefighting operations of the US military, and now we are using it. It just goes to show how much effort we put to maintain our equipment,” he added.

A collector’s item, the Howe International fire truck has a reservoir tank and can pump up to 500 gallons of water per minute.

“It is still reliable. We have used this fire truck several times during the summer,” Magno said.

The month of March usually sees the most forest fires since this is the hottest month of the year. And with the El Niño phenomenon upon the country, the SBMA Fire Department expects a lot of forest fires inside the Freeport.

Magno said forest fires occur when all the necessary elements come together in a wooded area: an ignition source is brought into contact with a combustible material such as vegetation that is subjected to sufficient heat, and there is an adequate supply of oxygen from the ambient air.

He added that high moisture content usually prevents ignition and slows propagation, because higher temperatures are required to evaporate any water within the material and to heat the material to its fire point.

Dense forests usually provide more shade, resulting in lower ambient temperatures and greater humidity, and are therefore less susceptible to wildfires.

“Less dense material such as grasses and leaves are easier to ignite because they contain less water than denser material such as branches and trunks,” Magno said.

“Plants continuously lose water by evaporation, but water loss is usually balanced by water absorbed from the soil, humidity, or rain. When this balance is not maintained, plants dry out and are therefore more flammable, often a consequence of droughts,” he added. By JONAS REYES - Manila Bulletin

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