Several months ago, Big Sandy VFD Chief, Jeff Jones, did a little research and found a truck for the fire department. No big deal, right? Fire departments add vehicles and equipment to their inventory as they often as they have the money. This, however, was no ordinary truck. This was a BIG TRUCK and it was free!
Meet ATTACK-1. This monster vehicle is a 2001 Stewart & Stevenson. It has been modified for use on wildland fires, high-water rescue, rural structure fires, and water transport and drafting. All the work was done in Chief Jones’ auto shop – J R’s Automotive Restoration. The new paint was barely dry when ATTACK-1 was called to action, responding to an oil fire just off Hwy 80. Lightening had struck a live oil well and storage tank. The success of the new vehicle not only made local newscasts, but was recognized by nationally by CNN. Through mutual aid agreements, Chief Jones states that the vehicle is available to surrounding departments if the need arises.
Last week, Assistant Chief Regional Fire Coordinator Billy Whitworth, Resource Specialist Mike Melton, and Fire Coordinator Curtis Sanford from Texas A&M Forest Service presented the BSVFD with a check for $20,000 and a clear title to the vehicle. This money was used to modify ATTACK-1.
This truck and funds for modification was obtained through the Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program. The program will pass approximately $24.3 million along to VFD this year to aid them in purchasing equipment and obtaining vital firefighter training. The program is administered by the Texas Forestry Service and provides grants for engines, fire and rescue equipment, protective gear, and training. Since inception, the program has funded more than 1,700 fire trucks, 4,200 grants for gear and 74,000 training opportunities, awarding more than $238 million in total grants. This program helps to increase the potential of eligible fire departments, giving them the ability to respond to emergencies with reliable, up to date vehicles and equipment. The vehicles, equipment, and training not only improve their capabilities but also help to increase the safety for department members. Revenue for the program is derived from an assessment on certain property and casualty insurers. (Source: Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program Talking Points)
A Cherokee Princess dogwood tree was also presented to the department and will be planted across from Big Sandy High School. The tree planting is a symbol of partnerships with those who share in helping to protect forests and related natural resources against wildland fires and is a reminder to future generations of the importance of protecting forests and natural resources.