The Virginia Department of Forestry has improved its ability to respond to wildfires in the Commonwealth by upgrading several pieces of fire equipment in its suppression fleet. Five new wildland brush trucks and four new tractor/plows with transports, valued at nearly $1.3 million, were distributed to various locations across Virginia. The units were purchased to replace existing equipment that had reached the end of its service life.
The five new brush trucks replace military-type Humvees that had been in service for more than 20 years. These new trucks have 300-gallon water tanks, larger capacity pumps, additional hose and improved emergency lighting along with the ability to transport up to five firefighters.
Steve Counts, VDOF’s assistant director of resource protection, said, “With the addition of these wildland engines, we can improve response time, increase protection of wildland home communities, and provide safer equipment for our firefighters. We are always looking for ways to improve our emergency response and achieve our No. 1 priority, which is the safety of our employees, other emergency responders and the citizens of Virginia.”
The four new Tractor Plow units are John Deere 550 bulldozers equipped with larger engines and a mounted fire plow. These units have environmental glass-enclosed cabs with air filtration systems that filter out smoke while battling wildland fires.
Counts said, “These tractor units are a great improvement over the older style, open-cab tractors. By upgrading to the new tractors, we can decrease operator fatigue, increase fireline production, and provide enhanced safety during wildfire response.”
With almost 90 tractor/plow units, 11 wildland engines and 170 first responders, the Virginia Department of Forestry, in cooperation with many volunteer and professional fire departments, protects Virginia’s citizens, their homes, personal property and our natural resources from the devastation associated with the 1,100 wildfires that burn each year in Virginia.