Palm Springs Fire Department Debuts New Aircraft Rescue Vehicles

Nico Payne

The Palm Springs Fire Department now has two new heavy-duty, high-tech Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting vehicles to help in emergencies at the Palm Springs International Airport. NBC Palm Springs got a first-hand, behind-the-wheel look at how rescue trucks operate.

“Eighteen years of new technology, quicker, faster, safer,” said Fire Captain Nathan Gunkel with the Palm Springs Fire Department.

Captain Gunkel introduced our team to the new fleet of aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles, they come with a hefty price tag, but for an important purpose, to save lives.

“Your loved ones, your loved ones’ life, your child, your mom, your grandma, and yourself. And that’s what it is, you can’t put a cost on human life, we can’t put a cost for its gain on that and were not willing to do that. The cost for both of them was $1.7 million, so were at about 850,000 apiece, but you put that over a 20-year span of course it makes sense,” explained Gunkel.

The rescue trucks are specifically used for airport emergencies, which are unlike other fire emergencies, in these circumstances firefighters don’t know if it’s a drill or a real-life situation, and they are constantly being timed.

“Whether it’s a medical, an airplane crash, fuel spills, any type of emergency, any 9-1-1 call, our units are going to respond to that,” added Gunkel.

Firefighters also explained some of the updated features that are meant to help firefighters put out fires safer and faster.

“One of the unique features that are different from your street or your normal metropolitan fire trucks is that we have the ability to flow water and drive at the same time,” explained Jason Vaccarello, Engineer Paramedic for the Palm Spring Fire Department.

Our team was able to go for a test run, firefighters reaching high speeds showing the capability of the new rescue trucks, sharing that they have to get anywhere in the airport within three minutes.

“Palm Springs International Airport has the best of the best because we think our citizens and our visitors are the best of the best and we want to treat them like that,” added Gunkel.

The ARFF vehicles usually have a lifespan of 15 years, but with proper maintenance and good care, the palm springs fire department is hoping to make them last the next 20 years.

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