Mariposa County Upgrades Fire Fighting Fleet

December 31, 2008 9:22:31 PM PST
The Mariposa County Fire Department is upgrading its fleet for the first time in more than three decades.The Mariposa County Fire Department responds to structure fires and also wildfires, like the destructive Oliver and Telegraph Fires this summer. Now it will have a bigger and better arsenal to protect homes and residents.

When wildfires ripped through Mariposa County this summer, some of the first responders had to crawl to the fire lines in engines that top out at 15 miles per hour uphill.

Deputy Chief Jim Middleton said, "Going up the hill we would slow down not just our strike team but other strike teams and it was very disheartening."

All of the Mariposa County Fire Department's engines and water tenders are at least 30 years old, and many are in rough shape.

But now that's changing ...

"This truck will go up the hill at 45 miles an hour, 3 times as fast," said Middleton.

This is the first of twelve new fire engines that will begin to replace the current fleet.

Chief Jim Wilson said, "It really is the contrast of antique vehilce versus new modern state of the art equipment. These new engines are all computerized, they're digitized, the pumps are modern, they're easy to use."

They're even equipped with a front mounted nozzle that allows one firefighter to start putting out flames from the safety of the cab.

"Our primary mission is structure fires and we need to be prepared to be the first unit in with a good serviceable engine," said Wilson.

This 300 thousand dollar prototype was paid for primarily by a federal grant. The other 11 engines and four new water tenders will be covered by money from a voter-approved ballot measure. Lush meadows resident Tim Sidoti says they're well worth the cost.

Tim Sidoti said, "Every penny of it. Because without those engines, what do we have here?

The rest of the engines and water tenders are expected to arrive by September. Until then, the first engine will rotate between stations so all of the firefighters can train on the new equipment.

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