HOUSTON – Another tool has been added to the Houston Fire Department tool box to help them fix problems and trouble in the community.
The department rolled out its newly refurbished brush truck earlier this month and have already seen it respond to special situations where it was the perfect vehicle for the job.
“We had a tractor fire out east of town Friday and sent the brush truck and our tanker,” said Capt. Jonathan Blankenship, of the Houston Fire Department. “It was a newly plowed field and the fire was contained to the tractor engine. Rather than send a big, heavy fire truck into that soft field, we sent the brush truck.”
The four-wheel drive 1985 Chevrolet has a V8 diesel engine and a skid in the back that holds a watertank, pump and hose reel. The truck has been outfitted with emergency lights, radio and other safety gear. It has also been painted “Houston Firefighter Red,” to match the department’s tanker truck – another homemade fire vehicle that has been in service over a year.
“We bought the truck and the fire skid for $1 from the U.S. Forest Service,” said Blankenship. “Both had been sitting outside. We knew they would needs some work.”
Blankenship said the renovation was a team effort.
“I think every volunteer and every paid firefighter has spent a couple of hours on this truck,” said Blankenship. “We’ve got electricians, welders, machinist, painters and mechanics that work with us and they really did a good job on this truck.”
Blankenship said the fire skid probably needed the most work.
“The pump motor was totally reconditioned and we also reworked the hose reel and the tank,” said Blankenship. “It took us about nine months to get it ready.”
Blankenship said the city truck will target smaller fires and situations where a lot of water is not needed.
“It will also be sent to all brush fires that are off the road or someplace were you don’t want to get a firetruck stuck,” said Blankenship. “We can send a tanker to stand by on the road and send this truck truck into the woods to fight a forest fire. If it runs out of water it can come back out to the road and then head back in.”
As with all Houston firetrucks, the brush truck can only be driven by firefighters who have successfully completed the state’s Emergency Vehicle Driver’s Course.
Under the city’s mutual aid agreement with Chickasaw County the truck can respond to any fire in the area.
“A lot of people have put a lot of time and effort into this truck,” said Blankenship. “We are just as proud of this little truck as we are of one of our big engines. We will use it a lot.”