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HFD adds new equipment to arsenal ahead of APEC

Officials say everyday operations will also benefit from the new vehicles and ladder

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

LAST UPDATED: 7:15 p.m. HST, Oct 20, 2011

Top brass of the Honolulu Fire Department acted like kids on Christmas Day, showing off a set of shiny yellow fire vehicles, trailers and other equipment at the Charles H. Thurston Training Center.

Several million dollars' worth of vehicles was purchased in the past year in anticipation of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting scheduled for mid-November.

Among the most excited about the new equipment was Fire Chief Kenneth Silva.

"We will be a safer community even after APEC is done because of the equipment we have here," Silva said at a blessing ceremony Thursday. "This isn't a one-time deal. Everything that you see here will be at all the incidents we see on a regular basis."

The chief said his new favorite apparatus is the department's latest arrival, which he toured for the first time Thursday: a $948,000 advanced communications support vehicle that will allow for advanced teleconferencing from the scene of incidents, even when there are power failures.

"If the entire island goes down, for whatever reason, we can still communicate," Silva said. "It has capabilities we'd never even dreamed of in the past."

Fire Capt. Carter Davis said the vehicle will act as a support vehicle for the department's existing mobile command center.

"It in essence extends our office out into the field," Davis said.

The vehicle, made by Colorado-based SVI Trucks, also supports three overhead cameras to broadcast video from three different angles of a scene via a secure network, Carter said. Funding was provided through the Urban Area Security Initiative.

Another key new apparatus is a mass decontamination trailer that will allow rescue personnel to decontaminate a large number of people in a short time.

The trailer contains separate decontamination stations for men and women, and has the capability of moving through 40 people an hour, said Fire Capt. Kalani Hao. Funding for the $230,000 trailer, built by Gerling and Associates, was from a Homeland Security grant.

Other new equipment includes a $220,000 VT Hackney CBRNE support trailer, essentially a large-scale mobile equipment storage locker, and a nearly $1 million, 59-foot Pierce Quantum tractor-drawn aerial ladder with the capability of going up 100 feet.

Silva said he and his firefighters have been training intensively for the past 18 months and are eager for the challenge of APEC.

"Here we are, we train for big events," Silva said. APEC represents "the biggest event we're going to experience in my career."

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