Janesville57.3°

New fire department brush truck is multi-purpose vehicle

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Shelly Birkelo
July 9, 2013

JANESVILLE--A man who broke his leg on the Cook Arboretum Trail had to be carried out on a cot by Janesville Fire Department paramedics and firefighters.

The mile hike into and out of the forested city park illustrated the fire department's need for a multi-use vehicle with better off-road capabilities, officials said.

In May, a new brush truck—a rural response vehicle—was delivered to the department, replacing a 14-year-old brush truck that now is being used as a tow vehicle.

The new one-ton extended cab truck was outfitted with equipment over the past month and has been in service for a couple weeks, firefighter Robert Twist said.

The old brush truck was outdated and doesn't comply with the National Fire Protection Association guidelines that prohibit firefighters from riding in the back of the truck, he said.

“We have to be either seat-belted or restrained in or on the vehicle,” Twist said.

Two race car seats with seatbelts mounted in the bed of the new truck provide the required safety features for firefighters, who previously had to walk alongside or ride on the tailgate of the brush truck, he said.

Other features of the new brush truck include:

--A stokes basket to transport the injured.

--A 250-gallon water tank that is 50 gallons bigger than the old brush truck tank.

--An extra bumper-mounted nozzle for field fires.

--Additional scene lights.

The $80,000 brush truck was custom created by an Indiana company from a conversion kit, Twist said.

"It starts as a flatbed pickup, then they build everything back," he said.

Twist said the truck is an asset to the department that covers a lot of rural area, including grass fires.

"It's maneuverable and can go where the ambulances and 60,000-pound fire engines can't go," he said.

The four-wheel drive, gas-powered truck is outfitted with a winch in case it gets stuck on soft terrain. That eliminates the need and expense of a tow truck.

"This is a multi-purpose vehicle and not just a brush truck," Twist said.

"In years past, we didn't have anything to get to remote areas, including the greenbelt and 29 miles of bike trails," he said.



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