On Thursday March 9, the Merrill Fire Department welcomed the arrival of a long awaited upgrade to their apparatus fleet, in the form of a 2017 Ford F550 Brush Truck.
The vehicle comes as a replacement for the department’s current apparatus, a 22-year-old truck which is no longer capable of adequately serving its purpose.
According to Fire Chief Dave Savone, the F550 chassis was purchased locally from Breaman Ford of Merrill and was then sent down to 1st Attack Engineering of Waterloo, Ind., to be outfitted to fulfill its purpose of fighting wildland fires, such as grass and forest fires.
Some of the features the truck has been equipped with include 4×4 capability, a 350-gallon water tank with a pump system capable of a 200 gallon per minute (GPM) output, as well as the capability of drafting water to refill the tank from a secondary water source such as a lake or pond.
The truck also has been equipped with a fire fighting foam system for smothering fires as well as four 8-GPM ground sweep water nozzles mounted on the front end; designed to spray water directly into the base of a fire as the vehicle navigates along the perimeter.
Another specific wildland fire fighting mechanism is a joystick-operated water nozzle on the front end, capable of 180 degree manipulation.
At first glance, perhaps the most striking feature of the vehicle are the behemoth sized tires; specially designed and outfitted to assist in navigating rough and unforgiving terrain for attacking wildland fires in progress.
Savone expects the service tenure of the apparatus to be between 20-25 years.
As with any new equipment, MFD staff are currently undergoing familiarization and operational training with the truck.
“Wildland firefighting season is right around the corner and could start any day,” Savone adds. “All it takes is a week or so without snow or rain and the pickup of winds, and we could have our first fire of the season. I fully expect our crew and the truck to be ready upon arrival of the season.”
In light of the fast approaching season, Savone encourages local residents to keep up to date with fire conditions as posted on the sign outside the department on Second Street. Residents can also check the Wisconsin DNR website for changing conditions at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestFire/restrictions.html.