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Oak Creek gets fire truck

Refurbished truck enhances wildland firefighting capability

Speed is a critical factor in suppressing wild fires and next summer the Oak Creek Fire Protection district expects its crews to arrive on the scene of grass and timber fires faster than they could have in the summer of 2004, even when their truck is loaded with 900 gallons of water.

Chief Chuck Wisecup said his department has received a newer reconditioned truck. It will be able to safely travel rough roads in the area at a higher rate of speed than its predecessor. The new wildland fire truck was made available by the Colorado State Forest Service and the U.S. Forest Service.

“Our old truck had a high profile, and you couldn’t go much higher than 35 mph in it,” Wisecup said. “The new truck can go 50 to 55 mph on the highway.”

The old truck, with its higher center of gravity and a heavy load of water, wasn’t as stable on unpaved roads that traversed hillsides, Wisecup said. As a result, the crew had to proceed with caution.

District Forester Terry Wattles of the CSFS said the new truck is a 1970s-era military surplus vehicle. It was converted into a wildland fire truck at the CSFS shop in Fort Collins. Although it isn’t new, it’s young when compared with the 1950s vintage truck Oak Creek had been using since 2001.

The truck carries just more than 900 gallons of water and has six-wheel drive to help it reach remote fire scenes in the area, Wattles said.

“The CSFS has about 180 of these trucks statewide, which are provided to local fire departments at a very low cost,” Wattles said.

The U.S. Forest Service helps the CSFS access the surplus military vehicles.

Wisecup said the new truck has capabilities its predecessor did not. The on-board fire suppressant foam unit is effective in establishing fire lines because it allows water to soak into heavy fuels faster. Oak Creek has one other wildland fire truck, but it carries just 200 gallons of water, Wisecup said.

Since acquiring the old truck in 2001, Wisecup said, his department has been able to contain most wildland fires to less than an acre in size.

— To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com


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