Pierce Manufacturing Inc., Appleton, Wis., a subsidiary of Oshkosh Truck Corp., has a fire truck equipped to ride rail tracks, developed in response to recent rail car derailment incidents and accidents in locations only accessible by rail.

The otherwise normal rescue truck has railway gear installed near the front and rear wheels, which hydraulically deploy for movement. To engage the rail gear equipment, the fire truck drives up to a rail crossing and aligns the rail gear over the tracks. The mechanism is then hydraulically deployed and engaged. The front axle is lifted off the track while the innermost tire on each side at the rear of the truck stays in contact with the tracks to monitor and adjust speed and braking to reach the situation location.

“Recently, there have been large fires and accidents in areas accessible only by rail,” said John Randjelovic, president of Pierce. “Because of those incidents, customers asked for a vehicle that could get them to the incident, and Pierce developed this new rail rescue.” The system can be configured for specific locations; the radius of curvature on the rail track determines the wheel base of the rail gear, and the gauge or width of the track determines the spacing of the rail wheels, so each truck must be customized to the particular area in which it will be put into service.