The colour is distinctively red, which is unusual for a Cat machine, but then again this is an emergency response vehicle, and a very unique one, which took close to a year to design and configure.
Built around a Cat 740B articulated truck chassis, Johannesburg based specialist body builders and fluid handling specialists, Cobra Petro Projects, have developed what is believed to be a world first: an all-terrain vehicle that combines and integrates a rescue and fire-fighting aerial sky lift platform with an on-board 21 000 litre tank incorporating an AFFF (Aqueous Fire-Fighting Foam) compartment, pumping equipment, plus allied hose and cannon connections. The truck also has an on-board fire suppression system.
During a fire, the main tank has the capability of deploying 2 900 litres per minute from a height up to 28 m and an estimated range of close to 45 m.
It’s a formidable machine purpose-built for Kumba Iron Ore’s Sishen mine that meets exacting safety and performance standards.
“Globally, conventional designs to date have seen aerial platforms mounted on rigid on-highway vehicles,” explains Cobra Petro Projects’ MD, Lloyd Darby, “but never to our knowledge on an articulated truck and not in combination with a water bowser tank system.” Cobra secured the order from Southern African Cat dealer, Barloworld Equipment.
The sky lift is designed to reach a vertical height of around 28 m (with the stabilisers down) and supports a basket with a 325 kg carrying capacity for transferring personnel to safety during a fire. A stretcher attachment facilitates rescue operations for injured personnel. The basket rotates 360 degrees endlessly via a rotary union arrangement in the turret and is connected via telescopic pipe work to the water tank. The sky lift draws its 24 V power from the Cat diesel engine, whilst the fire-fighting pumps operate off the hoist hydraulic system.
The aerial technology was provided by Finnish original equipment manufacturer, Bronto Skylift, in consultation with their South African agent, Fire Raiders, the latter responsible for installing the fire-fighting equipment. Technical input was also provided by Caterpillar’s articulated truck manufacturing centre in Peterlee, England.
One of the biggest challenges was the need to identify the best position for the truck’s 21 000 litre tank, which needed to be positioned on top of the sky lift platform tied in to the chassis, thereby optimising the centre of gravity and weight distribution.
The final gross vehicle mass is around 70 tonnes, of which the cab and chassis accounts for approximately 28 000 kg.