Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's (ECBC) Advanced Design and Manufacturing Division (ADM) is partnering with the Letterkenny Army Depot (LEAD), near Chambersburg, Pa., to save Warfighters from smoke inhalation and other fire effects of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle damages.
ADM and LEAD worked together to design and create a production plan for the Macaw Fire Suppression System (FSS) Mount. The Mount will allow for fire rescue supplies to be stored in an easily accessible place, so that Warfighters can use them when needed. ADM will begin fabrication of 10 prototype units.
“When an MRAP gets hit by a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) or an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), many soldiers die from things like smoke inhalation, or getting trapped in burning vehicles,” said
Mark Schlein, ADM Division Chief. “When the rescue personnel would arrive to the scene, the equipment to get the Warfighters out of the MRAP and save their lives was hard to find. Sometimes the rescue personnel would be too late to help.”
ADM and LEAD worked together to engineer a solution to create external locations on the vehicle where a backpack containing the Macaw Fire Suppression System and Halligan Pry Bar could be placed. That way, a fire rescue team could use these materials to contain the fire and get Warfighters out of burning vehicles.
“What we basically did was turn MRAP into a Fire Truck,” said Elan Kazam, an Engineering Design and Analysis engineer and a lead integrator for the Buffalo Vehicle team.
ADM was tasked with the project in 2006, as a result of ChemBio work the Division was supporting for the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization. In 2006, members of the ADM team were tasked by the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) to work with Protected Clearance Vehicle training surrogates, which aided in training combat units for IED defeat missions. After the surrogates were created, ADM engineers and the Buffalo Integration team created a Memorandum of Understanding in which members of ADM would be a part of the Buffalo Integration Team, which would make needed Capability Insertions (CI) to the Buffalo Vehicle. In 2010, the Integration Team needed to create a way in which fire rescue equipment would be accessible for the Buffalo. The team was able to
create an effective solution for the vehicle.
“We came up with a good solution for the Buffalo along with a technical data package, and we were able to get tasked with building 90 of the fire equipment mounts with the help of Aberdeen Test Center (ATC),”
The work from the Buffalo led Joint Project Officer for MRAP to ask ADM to bid on an Urgent Universal Needs Statement (UUNS) in 2011, where the fire rescue mounts would be placed on the MRAP Cougar vehicle as well as the MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle (MATV). When the contract set out, Letterkenny and ADM were both bidding for the contract. Rather than bid against one another, Schlein took a collaborative approach and instead joined with the Army Depot to submit a co-bid on the work.
“We worked together on the Buffalo, so we knew that we would do an even better job working together on this task as well,” Schlein said. To make life easier for the Warfighters, JPO MRAP requested that the fire equipment be mounted using a similar system for both the Cougar and MATV, a task that took creative thinking on the part of the engineers.
“The kit is just a backpack placed on the vehicle, but the challenge is every vehicle is built differently, so it was tough to find a common way to mount the FSS, but we were able to do it,” Kazam said.
Kazam and his team were able to mount the FSS in a unique location that is a little high up, yet the group was able to design a lowering system to make the FSS easily accessible during an emergency. This type of innovation, is what Schlein said keeps the JPO happy with the work that ADM produces.
“At first the Marine Corp wanted to award the contract to a Marine Corp organization since the Cougar and M-ATV are Marine-used vehicles,” Schlein said. “But after they saw the type of work we do, and the type of innovative minds we have here, they ended up having us do the work because they know that we have the capabilities to really get the job done.”
“This project was one of those where the key was satisfying the customer, which eventually led to more opportunities for us and for the Warfighters,” said Lester Strauch, Engineering Design and Analysis Branch Chief.
Schlein hopes the good customer service can continue to forge meaningful work partnerships with other Army Depots as well as find new ways for ADM to save the lives of Warfighters.
“It is very interesting how this type of work can develop,” Schlein said. “Work like this helps maintain ECBC’s capabilities so when ChemBio missions come up in the future, we still have the engineering capabilities to tackle those.”