Purpose-built forwarders are designed to operate effectively in difficult terrain, so why aren’t they used to suppress fires in wildfire emergencies?

Well they are now! Leading forest machine manufacturer Ponsse has developed a fire fighting kit that can be loaded into the load space on any Ponsse forwarder to turn it into a highly effective fire fighting unit.

“The forest machine is the most natural and effective way to access a forest fire area,” says Juha Haverinen, Ponsse product manager for forwarders. “Operations in difficult terrain come as second nature to forwarders, and they have more than enough capacity in their hydraulic system for demanding conditions.

“When the rescue authorities (in Finland) asked us if we were willing to develop this product together with them, we were ready right from the beginning, because rescue professionals and our customers have a clear demand for firefighting equipment,” continued Juha.

Ponsse’s South African agents, MTS Parts, will be supplying and offering the new Ponsse Fire Fighting Equipment to customers in South Africa, and supporting them with after-sales service.

According to Chris Odendaal of MTS Parts, any Ponsse forwarder (Buffalo, Bison, Elephant or Elephant King) can be converted to take the attachment. After the initial conversion, he says it only takes about 15 minutes to load and connect the equipment to the Ponsse carrier.

After the fire has been extinguished, the fire fighting equipment can be taken off and the forwarder can carry on with its usual work. The firefighting attachment can be carried to and from the forwarder in any hooklift type truck, he said.

The 10 000 litre water tank can be filled from a reservoir, dam or water tanker – even salt water as all components are corrosion free – with the on-board 1000L/minute pump.

“You can use the crane to place the pump inlet into a water resource (water tank, lake, dam or even saltwater) and it fills the tank in just over 10 minutes, and you are ready to fight the fire,” said Chris.
The fire fighting nozzle is hydraulically controlled and the spray pattern can be adjusted on the go from a pencil type spray to a wide spread spray. The nozzle can shoot a water stream up to 47 metres. It also has another nozzle that can be used manually for smaller fires close by, or for wetting the vegetation to prevent the spread of the fire.

According to Chris, the fire fighting conversion is a cost effective solution that gives harvesting contractors more fire fighting capacity.

Related article: MTS Parts turning Ponsse into a powerhouse in SA



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