Thorsby Fire Department adds utility vehicle to fleet

Published 2:45 pm Monday, June 17, 2013

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Thorsby firefighters Zach Hamm, Shelby Lockhart and Nick Watley train last week with the department's new utility vehicle.Thorsby firefighters Zach Hamm, Shelby Lockhart and Nick Watley train last week with the department’s new utility vehicle.

Thorsby has a new tool for fighting fires.

The town’s fire department recently purchased a utility vehicle, which Chief Lee Gunn thinks will allow firefighters a more variable response to grass fires and some medical emergency situations.

The six-wheel-drive Polaris Ranger cost $16,000, which was paid for out of the fire department’s account.

Thorsby’s Town Council approved the purchase of the vehicle at its June 3 meeting, and the vehicle was purchased shortly thereafter.

Gunn said many departments use a pick-up truck to battle grass fires, but he said he thinks the utility vehicle is better suited for that purpose and could also have other uses.

Gunn said pick-ups can be outfitted with a water tank that holds 100-200 gallons. A tank installed on the utility vehicle holds 75 gallons.

Gunn said the utility vehicle’s maneuverability makes up for the smaller tank, especially considering that 100-gallon tank wouldn’t last much longer than a 75-gallon tank and would have to be re-filled several times while putting out a grass fire.

“It’s a lot more maneuverable than a pick-up would be,” he said.

The vehicle can also be fitted with a bracket that will allow it to carry a stretcher, making it perfect for responding to injuries during high school football games.

The stretcher-carrying capability could also be used to rescue someone injured and stranded in a wooded area.

“When you need it, you can’t replace it,” Gunn said. “It won’t ever work independently; it would never replace a full-size truck.”

Gunn said some firefighters still have to be trained on the vehicle, and equipment such as fire extinguishers and rakes still have to be installed, before the vehicle is put into service.