Deuce-and-a-half to be modified

By Jeni Payne
Arkansas City Traveler – April 13, 2015

Photo by Donita Clausen.

Photo by Donita Clausen.

The City Commission of Arkansas City voted 5-0 on Tuesday night to enter into a contract with 1st Due Emergency Response Solutions for the modifications needed to utilize a 1990 5-ton 6×6 military surplus truck that was acquired through a forestry program in the state of Kansas.

The modifications cannot exceed the approved amount of $26,603.

The Arkansas City Fire-EMS Department received the truck, commonly known as a “deuce and a half,” on Oct. 8, 2014, for a total cost of $180 in shipping fees. During an interview at that time, ACFD Lt. Kyle Riedl smiled and said, “What do you want to know? It’s big. And it’s green.”

The vehicle has less than 5,000 miles on its odometer, and will be converted to serve as a rig for fighting grass fires in Cowley County.

“This is an amazing piece of equipment,” said Commissioner Jean Snell.

“The vehicle is ours, to be used within (certain) guidelines,” said Fire Chief Bobby Wolfe.

Those guidelines are dictated by the method of procurement used — the forestry service requires that the paint be changed, and the retrofitting of the equipment needed to fight grass fires must be completed within 180 days of receipt of the deuce-and-a-half.

Another stipulation is that the rig carries no more than a 1,000-gallon tank.

The department also will have to bring the vehicle’s lights up to Kansas Department of Transportation standards, as well as adding an emergency light bar.

The new deuce-and-a-half also will have a safety feature that its predecessor did not — seat belts.

“My main concern is that my men are safe,” Wolfe said.

“In the (previous truck), they were not.”

Those modifications, as well as the addition of a remote-controlled spray nozzle, are included in the total cost of the retrofit.

If the department adheres to the rules outlined by the program, full ownership of the vehicle will transfer to the City of Arkansas City in three years.

Wolfe said that after those three years, the city could look into a larger water storage tank for the back of the vehicle.

“Chief, what do you estimate we saved by buying this truck?” asked Commissioner Charles Tweedy III.

“Winfield had one custom-made, and I’m not sure of the cost,” Wolfe said.

“But if I had to guess, I’d say somewhere around $200,000.”

A call to the Winfield Fire-EMS Department confirmed that the cost of a brand-new grass fire rig was somewhere in the range of $220,000 to $230,000.

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