VA Forestry Dept Purchases New Fire Response Vehicles - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

VA Forestry Dept Purchases New Fire Response Vehicles

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Just in time for the spring wildfire season, the Charlottesville headquarters of the Virginia Department of Forestry has a new dozer and engine. Both will help improve safety, effectiveness, and response times.

The department has responded to almost 200 fires so far this year across the state. With the new equipment, first responders say they are safer, more reliable, and better equipped to do their job.

When a forest fire breaks out, a dozer is the first line of attack.

"A lot of times the fire moves a lot faster than people can walk and put water down on the ground, so with this tractor we can actually make an actual earth berm to stop that fire, removing the fuel from the forest floor,” said forest technician specialist Derek Aeiser.

The Department of Forestry just got a new one, and its safety features allow crews to be more effective than ever.

In the older dozer models, the cab is more open to the elements like fire and smoke, not allowing the operator to get as close to the actual fire. In newer models, the cab is completely enclosed, protecting the driver from flames, heat, and smoke.

The department also has a new engine that packs a bit more punch than its predecessor.

"The engines have 300 gallons of water on them where the older hummer units only had about 200 to 250 gallons of water on them. The engines also can carry a lot more hoses and appliances,” Aeiser said.

The two cost the state more than $250,000.

"You can't put a price on providing the best equipment, not only for suppressing fires and protecting the citizens of the public but also protecting our people that are out there fighting fires,” said Fred Turck, assistant director for resource protection with the Virginia Department of Forestry.

It's a difficult, dangerous job, but crews are glad the new vehicles will help them provide better service to their community.

"It enables us to get out and respond a lot faster and to bring reliable equipment out to the fire that we can use, so we're pretty excited about that,” Aeiser said.

The vehicles are part of a larger purchase for the entire department, totaling around $1.3 million. Four other engines and three other dozers have been sent to other offices around the state.

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