Firefighters better equipped with “toolbox on wheels”

20 Jul 2010 | Lance Cpl. Victor A. Barrera

Where other emergency vehicles would get stuck going through muddy terrain, this one took it like it was built for mudding. When emergency vehicles could not access an area due to ground clearance, this one charged through.

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune firefighters added the Wild-land fire truck to their arsenal of vehicles in order to better combat fires in the woodlands aboard the Base.

Three Wild-land fire trucks were bought and distributed to those fire stations that needed them most - the Sandy Run Fire Station, French Creek Fire Station and Station 10.

 “These locations were chosen for the potential risk of wildland and grassfires,” said Glenn Zurek, assistant chief of fire prevention with MCB Camp Lejeune Fire Department.

The difference between fighting fires on the streets and fighting fires in the woods played a role in what type of vehicle was needed. The Wild-Land truck can traverse rough terrain and carry water where no fire hydrants are available.

The Wild-Land truck has replaced a four-wheel drive truck with a skid unit. A skid unit is a self-contained firefighting tool which has a hose, pump and tank capable of holding up to 50 to 1,500 gallons of water.

“Compared to the vehicles we had, this can hold more, about 500 gallons, which is almost double the water of our old vehicles, and it also has room for all our equipment,” said Lt. Jeremy Shipp, a firefighter at the Fire Station 5, the French Creek Fire Station.

The French Creek fire station covers the entire area from Sneads Ferry to the back gate and was given one of the trucks to help them access areas other emergency vehicles could not.

“With so much wildland in our area we needed a better truck,” said Ship.

The Wild-Land truck is also equipped with a chainsaw, emergency medical technician bag, backfire torches, air packs and everything else a firefighter needs to combat a wildfire in the woods.

“It’s like our own toolbox on wheels,” added Ship.

Along with being able to carry more equipment, the Wild-Land truck also has a sturdier structure. The truck has bigger tires and a higher ground clearance needed for working in a wooded environment.

“We can go through tank and training-area trails,” said Lt. Leon Bass, a firefighter with Fire Station 5. “Other vehicles couldn’t get through and would end up being stuck.”

With better ground clearance, the vehicle can drive over obstacles that smaller vehicles would otherwise have to maneuver around. Bass said the tires on the Wild-Land trucks have a better tread for maximum grip in muddy or sandy environments.

The new Wild-Land truck is a versatile vehicle, effective in both wooded and urban environments. Since the beginning of 2010 these three vehicles have collectively responded to more than 200 incidents.

“This is a great vehicle,” said Ship. “It can hold everything we need and it gets the job done.”