N.C. volunteer fire department lands all-terrain brush truck
Nicknamed 'the beast' the truck can also be used for rescue and evacuations
By Matthew Adkins
The Daily News
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — Onslow County and N.C. residents are better protected by a local fire department's recent acquisition: a massive brush truck.
The tanker and pumper truck can carry 500 gallons of water just about anywhere.
"The torque ratio on this truck is atrocious," said Half Moon VFD Chief Greg Jeppson. "We could hook it up to the station and pull the whole building down if we wanted."
The N.C. Forestry Service, through a wish-list program with the Department of Defense, helped the Half Moon Volunteer Fire Department secure a decommissioned military vehicle at no cost.
Nicknamed The Beast, the truck is a hefty, all-terrain conglomerate of metal and paint. The vehicle features six-wheel drive, submergibility of around four feet of water and is able to haul five times its own weight.
Paperwork accompanying the vehicle reveals it saw military use at the Moroccan embassy before being acquired by Forestry Services. It took several months to retrofit The Beast with new paint, fire-fighting foam, no-skid surfaces, winch, water pump and ladders, but it is now ready to see use.
"We've already taken it out to test what we could and couldn't do with the vehicle," Jeppson said. "It was very impressive. Four or five other trucks got stuck and this thing was the only one that got through the testing phase. We are definitely excited."
In addition to fighting fires, The Beast also will be used in evacuations, relief operations and extreme weather situations similar to the one that left the Half Moon area completely cut off from help during hurricane Floyd in 1999.
"We had rescue missions in this district during Floyd, but we were essentially an island with no way in no way out," Jeppson said. "This is something I've been thinking about since then. We would have had a much easier time if we had this truck."
Although repairs and new equipment for the truck cost the fire department $30,000, it is merely a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that would have otherwise been accrued, according to Forestry Ranger Ricky Adkins.
It took two months just to paint it.
"This partnership between military and Forestry services is outstanding for local agencies," Adkins said. "Even though the program's budget has been cut to the point where we are limited to where we can get our equipment, Onslow county tax payers have still saved close to $800,000 in the past three years alone."
While the Half Moon VFD will be the home base for The Beast, the rarity of such a functional vehicle has spurred emergency service officials to make the truck available throughout the state during large-scale incidents.
The fire department also wants to increase the vehicle's utility by installing a 400-gallon Buffalo water tank on the back of the truck that could be used as a staging point for other fire trucks or as a drinking water supply during the next catastrophe. Anyone willing to donate or sell a Buffalo tank is encouraged to contact the Half Moon Volunteer Fire Department at 910-455-8760.
(c)2013 The Daily News (Jacksonville, N.C.)
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