Unimog intervenes in fires and mud
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West Country fire chiefs last week took a look at Unimog's new fire-fighting Rapid Intervention Vehicle, complete with automatic gearbox, and gave it the thumbs-up—despite some sticky moments.
by Miles Brignall • It took two years to bring to the market, it costs £142,000, does 0-80km/h in 25 seconds— and lasted just 40 minutes before getting bogged down in Somerset mud.
Last week, Unimog gave CM and the West Country's fire chiefs an exclusive look at its new Rapid Intervention Vehicle (RIV) ahead of its launch at the Frankfurt show.
Boasting the first automatic gearbox to be fitted to a Unimog, it got stuck after the driver strayed off the track and sank into a dyke. Despite attempts to pull it out with chains, rain just before the test meant calling in another Unimog to pull it out.
The RIV has been designed to conform to new airport regulations that demand an automatic gearbox and minimum acceleration times. Based on the U1550L, it has a US-made Twin Disc six-speed automatic box with power divider. The body is provided by Austrian firm Rosenbauer.
According to project engineer Georg Staskiewicz, it is aimed at small provincial airports where runways are often surrounded by woods or terrain inaccessible to normal tenders.
Despite its problems in the mud, the Unimog looks the part. Sitting in the cab, you have the normal functional set-up, plus the auto gearbox. Put in six and it accelerates away with distinct lurches as it changes gear, but it carries on to a top speed of 125km/h.
The gearbox's power divider allows the machine to "pump and
roll", enabling it to move around the fire at up to 20Iun/h while discharging water and foam at maximum rates.
The Rosenbauer body sports all the usual fire-fighting equipment: the water tank has a capacity of 1,200 litres, while a foam compound tank holds 160 litres. There is an automatic foam-mixing system UK sales are not expected to be huge, but judging from the positive noises from the firemen present, there is a market. Unimog says it will offer the automatic gearbox in other guises, particularly where relatively untrained drivers are called upon to use the vehicles, such as in the utilities sector.
Pity the poor demonstration driver—as soon as he had been winched out of one hole, he went straight into another. After another winching job, out it came—the only damage, a ripped mud flap. They're pretty solid, these Unimogs.
CHASSIS Mercedes-Benz Unimog Ul 550L (240) 4x4
GVVV: 8.5 tonnes.
Engine: Mercedes-Benz 0M366A turbo-diesel.
Power: 237hp (177kW) at 2,60Orpm_
Torque: 553Ibft (750Nm) at 1,400-1,600rpm.
Transmission: Twin Disc sixspeed automatic with power divider.
Tyres: 335/80R20, II in rims.
BODYWORK Rosenbauer RIV 1200/
160/250 steel-framed aluminium body with GRP watertank and foam tank. NH20 pump and RM25E remote foam/ water/powder monitor.