MADERA COUNTY — The Madera County Board of Supervisors learned first-hand the capabilities of the new T-Rex, the articulating platform ladder fire truck, soon to be put into service at Station 8 in Coarsegold.
During today’s regular Board meeting, MMU Cal Fire Division Chief Dave Allen gave the supervisors a close-up look at the new truck, which was acquired to address the unique challenges of fire protection for the 11-story structure at the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino in Coarsegold.
The Board and some County employees also enjoyed a birds-eye view of the city of Madera as they were lifted from the roof of the Government Center to the top of the 5-story parking structure next door.
The Rosenbauer T-Rex is equipped with a combination telescopic and articulating boom, and is marketed as “the fastest and most powerful articulating platform in the industry.”
As described on Rosenbauer’s website, “Its on-board CAN-bus electronic system provides the speed to allow firefighters to set the stabilizers, raise the aerial 115’ in the air and rotate 90° in less than 95 seconds.
“It’s fully NFPA compliant as either an aerial platform or a quint with a midship pump, 300-gallon water tank, hose storage bed and 115’ of ground ladders.”
The 1.5-million-dollar T-Rex arrived months earlier than anticipated, and it will likely be 2 ½ to 3 months to outfit the truck, get it staffed, and send operators for training who are not yet qualified on the apparatus. To goal is to eventually get all Cal Fire personnel qualified on the new truck, says Chief Allen.
County officials are in talks with the Chukchansi Tribe, who purchased the truck, to finalize an MOU for additional staffing. The truck will be housed at Madera County Fire Station 8 on Road 417 in Coarsegold. Station 8 is currently manned 24/7 by two firefighters – with one Type 3 engine and a water tender – also funded through an agreement with the Tribe. The addition of the T-Rex will require a staffing increase to five firefighters, 24/7.
At today’s meeting, Chief Allen also talked to the Board about purchasing several Type 6 engines – a smaller unit on a 4×4 Ford or Dodge crew cab chassis, with a 300-gallon water tank and a 17-gallon foam tank. These engines don’t require special licensing, and can be driven by any firefighter with a valid Class C license.
“We need to think about moving forward with the Type 6’s,” said Allen, who told the Board he would be asking them for three of the units during the next round of budget talks in early 2018.
“We need dependable, reliable equipment for our PCF program, and getting the new Type 6’s will help to generate more interest and retention in our volunteer program. These poor guys are out there driving 30-year-old pieces of equipment.”
The County would also be able to generate money by sending those engines to assist other agencies, and being reimbursed by the State or the federal government. Allen said Tulare County has three Type 6’s and was able to generate nearly $300,000 in revenue last year.
“As the fire season hits and we get busier, they’re just a real convenient piece of equipment,” said Allen, who noted that over the past weekend with the large numbers of fires, fire officials were having a hard time putting operators on all the larger engines.
“With the Type 6’s, we use them right now on the teams to pre-plan, to gel houses, and then bring them back in to do fire following – picking up all those little spot fires while the larger engines are actually at the front of the fire.”
They are also far more economical when responding for medical aids or other types of emergencies that don’t require a large engine.
The County currently has three Type 1 engines on order, along with three Tactical Water Tenders, all scheduled for delivery in late 2017 or early 2018.