Special TATRA trucks – Part 4: Fire "four-wheeler" for Australia

27 February, 2015

At the end of 2014 a TATRA 815-732R53 4x4 vehicle was shipped to Australia, which was built at the request of an Australian dealer jointly with TATRA TRUCKS and THT Policka.

This is a unique special truck designed primarily for interventions during extreme forest fires that are very common in Australia. Before the production of the vehicle, a number of meetings with representatives of firefighting units from Australia and the firefighters themselves were held to meet the expected parameters - indeed, the same principle was used a few years ago, when the first fire fighting vehicle variants based on T 815-7 range for the Czech and Slovak firefighters were built. An important part was also the requirement to meets the very specific fire regulations, which are significantly different from the standards in the Czech Republic or Europe.

The special truck was built as a combination of elements used in different versions of T 815-7 ranges. It is powered by a standard air-cooled TATRA T3D-928.31 Euro5 engine with the power output of 325 kW in combination with the six-speed Allison automatic transmission and two-speed TATRA auxiliary transmission. The axles are made with hub reduction gears and to provide maximum go-anywhere ability the tire inflation is controlled directly from the cab. The front axle is suspended with air bellows (standard for T 815-7 range), in the rear the light combined suspension is used (to provide maximum protection of bellows when passing through fire). Both axles feature 14.00 R20 tires, with single tires in the rear. Thanks to the air suspension the vehicle height can also be controlled from the driver's cab.

The cab version is commonly used in vehicles for the mining sector, i.e. in a unique design with integrated protection complying with stringent ROPS/FOPS regulations (Rollover Protective Structure and Falling Object Protective Structure) without using additional frames. Indeed, it has the RH sided steering design and is equipped with a trio of seats with three-point seatbelts.

In this custom version, TATRA 815-7 features wheelbase of 4,090 mm and an overall length of 8 m, including the front gun carriage, mounted on the bumper. The vehicle width falls within the applicable Australian legislation and is 2,500 mm and the height in the standard suspension position is only 2,760 mm.

As already mentioned, the superstructure was made by THT Policka, which installed, among others, the vehicle fire protecting system - nozzles positioned all around the vehicle, creating a water curtain around it. The whole superstructure is a one-purpose modification of superstructure normally fitted onto the "European" versions of T 815-7 CAS-30.

The vehicle has been in Australia since mid-January. An Australian dealer is currently lending it in several-day cycles to individual fire departments in Western Australia, where the traditional "season" of forest fires takes place during this period and the new special truck got directly into the focus of one of them in the very first mission. In the coming months, a 6x6 variant will also be prepared featuring a larger capacity and steerable rear axle – we will bring details about this option immediately after its implementation.