County replaces charred fire truck

By Robert Pierce
Southwest Daily Times – April 4, 2017

Grass fires earlier this year spelled the end for a few area homes as well as one unit being used to fight the blazes.

The truck, one of the Seward County Fire Department’s (SCFD) older models, stalled in the middle of being engaged with crew in a fire attack.

With that news, county fire chief Andrew Barkley quickly worked to get a new unit in place for fighting fires locally.

Thursday afternoon, county firefighters provided a demonstration of the new truck, a 2016 Rosenbauer 1250 GPM RXT Maverick, with a Freightliner M2 106 4X4 two-door chassis and a Cummins diesel 300 horsepower engine.

Barkley said the truck is a pretty interesting model for Seward County.

“It is what you call an urban interface truck,” he said. “It is designed for wildland and everything else we do. It’s a four-wheel drive. It’s a high ground clearance. That truck holds 1,500 gallons of water, and it’s got a 1,250 GPM pump on it. With the front bumper monitor, it keeps our firefighters in the cab where they’re safer than being on the back of the truck on a catwalk. It allows the passenger to control the joystick, or if it’s a one-man operation, he can run the nozzle.”

Barkley said the new engine allows the county to get an ISO (Insurance Service Office) rating for house protection.

“On grass trucks, you don’t get that rating because the pumps aren’t big enough,” he said. “Now, you’ve got a truck that will do grass fires. It’ll do house fires, and it can be used to shuttle waters as a water tanker.”

Barkley said fire departments are only rated for ISO for house fires, but the rural environment of Seward County presents a problem with that rating.

“We have to be able to handle grass fires. Ideally, we have three stations,” he said. “If you could have two grass rigs per station, that would be great.”

Barkley said by about mid-June, the SCFD should be close to that number.

“We also have what we consider a type 6 grass rig, which is the one-ton pickup,” he said. “We’ll have six thousand-gallon grass truck in the county, and we’ll have four structure engines in the county. We have three main ones and one reserve one that sits on the north side of Kismet.”

With a jaws of life set equipped on board, Barkley said the new unit can likewise be used to help with car accidents.

“The short wheel base on it is ideal for off road use with the four wheel drive, the high ground clearance,” he said. “It’s really a unique truck in that aspect that it will do anything we need it do.”

Barkley said the fire department’s new truck should definitely provide significant help with fighting fires in Seward County.

“For what we got, you got something that can do anything we’ve got to do compared to the truck we lost, where we could only do grass fires or shuttle water,” he said.

The drive to get a new truck did start, though, prior to this year’s round of grass fires, Barkley said.

“Last year when we did the budget, I asked to get involved with the Kansas State Forest Service,” he said. “They get surplus military trucks. We were going after a 2,500-gallon truck that’s an eight by eight. Those trucks are two years out from the forest service getting them. We got the opportunity to get a five-ton six by six. I took it to commission because it was different than what I suggested in the beginning. That passed 4-1.”

Barkley said that truck is currently being built at a cost of about $28,000 to be outfitted for wildland firefighting.

“We opted to have somebody do it because it has to be painted and emergency lights put on it,” he said. “That truck should be arriving in June. When we get it here, we’ve got the opportunity to see what Haskell County has with theirs and talk to their guys about theirs. We take a picture of it. We send it back to the forest service, and we get right back on the list for another one.”

Barkley said six by six trucks are designed for the wear, tear, dirt and dust environments such as those in Seward County.

“The military builds them for desert use,” he said. “It’s a truck that we’re looking at to replace these older white trucks as grass fire trucks.”

Barkley said having the new truck in place and the potential for more will be amazing for his fire department.

“We have a strategic plan in place, and in ‘19, my goal is to get us two more trucks like this one, a 3,000-gallon tanker and a breathing support or air light unit that can refill SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) models on the scene of a fire,” he said. “A tanker and the breathing support, we’ve never had in this county before. That’s my goal. The grass fire trucks, the more we have, the better, but you also have the trucks that do multiple jobs for you. That’s the better truck to have. Now you kill three birds with one stone.”


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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