LSTE Brandenburg, a state school and technical facility for fire and disaster protection, and the central police service of the state of Brandenburg specified and ordered the bespoke vehicles on behalf of the ministries of the interior for the purpose of fighting increasing numbers of wildfires in rough terrain. Both states have large, forested areas and have experienced numerous, and in some cases devastating, forest fires in recent years. As former military training areas with the possibility of ammunition in the ground (legacies of former ammunition depots from the Second World War), firefighting efforts are significantly hampered.
The Tatra Force 815-7 4x4 has a TLF-W body type ‘Brandenburg’ from Czech body builder, THT Polička. It is powered by an Allison 4500 Series fully automatic transmission and a 6-cylinder Euro VI Cummins diesel engine rated at 386bhp. The 18-ton truck reaches a maximum speed (limited) of 62 mph.
The all-wheel drive delivers off-road capability at all times. The TLF-W has a water passage capability of 110 cm and is able to drive through water up to 110 cm. It has a gradient-climbing capability of 78%, equivalent to approximately 38 degrees. The extinguishing water tank holds 4,800 litres and an additional 180 litres of foam compound. The pump-and-roll function enables extinguishing operations to continue while the vehicle is in motion.
Following successful testing and approval, the first vehicle was handed over to the Kolkwitz municipal fire brigade on February 8 at Tatra Force’s manufacturing plant in the Czech Republic. Eleven vehicles are destined for Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and 35 for Brandenburg, where they will complement the existing fire appliances of the volunteer fire departments.
The LSTE required these special vehicle properties in order to maximize the vehicle's robustness, off-road capability and power, while at the same time providing enhanced control and comfort for the crew. Moving an 18-ton truck quickly and efficiently in extremely rough terrain requires complete transfer of engine power and torque to the wheels. Allison's fully automatic transmission with its patented torque converter and uninterrupted full-power shifts delivers excellent acceleration and continuous traction.
"We absolutely depend on uncompromising performance and safety," said Maurice Kuhnert, Head of Technology at LSTE. “Drivers must be able to trust the performance of the vehicles and be in control of them at all times. A fully automatic transmission makes the work for our volunteer emergency services much easier. The intelligent transmission logic thinks for itself and supports the driver both on the road and, above all, off-road."
“In recent years we've had an increase in large forest fires, which requires more of these powerful special vehicles”, said Maurice Kuhnert, head of technology at LSTE. “The forested area in Brandenburg is approximately 1.09 million hectares which represents about 37% of the state’s total surface area. Large parts of it are already considered at high risk of forest fires and climate change has not even been taken into account. We expect the new TLF-W to be significantly more effective in fighting fires and to relieve our emergency services.”
“We recommend fully automatic transmissions for such vehicles, especially since the fire crews are often volunteer firefighters with comparatively little driving experience”, said Stephan Marker, area sales manager at Allison Transmission.
The integration of body and pumping equipment is also crucial to the overall efficiency of a firefighting vehicle. Lars Friedrich, sales manager Germany for THT Polička / TATRA Trucks at German Tatra distributor Friedrich. “The torque converter powershift transmission enables the Cummins engines to unleash their full torque. As a result, the Tatra Force chassis can implement uncompromising traction and acceleration to emergency vehicles.”