East Hawaii News

Pahala Fire Station Getting Off-Road Fire Truck

May 14, 2014, 11:03 AM HST
* Updated May 14, 1:27 PM
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The federal government is helping to reduce the threat of wildfires in the sprawling district of Ka`u.

Funding was announced recently for the purchase of a wildland brush truck for the Pahala Fire Station.

The mobile fire-fighting apparatus – built on a heavy-duty 4-wheel-drive chassis such as a Ford F-550 – will give county firefighters much greater ability to reach remote areas.

Fire Chief Darren Rosario said the wildland brush trucks can allow access to the head of the brushfire, places where a traditional truck and tanker often can’t reach.

“It gives us a chance to put out the fire more quickly,” he said.

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And the Ka`u District’s wide-open spaces and sometimes arid climate can provide opportunities for wildfires to spread, as was seen when more than 6,000 acres burned near Pahala in June 2012.

Fire Chief Darren Rosario. HCFD photo.

Fire Chief Darren Rosario. HCFD photo.

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The truck is being paid for by a $165,000 grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

It comes from HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program, which is designed to improve public facilities in low- to moderate-income communities.

Rosario said a typical wildland brush truck is equipped with a 300-gallon water tank and the usual pumps and hoses. It also can dispense flame-retardant foam.

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CDBG funds previously purchased two other of the trucks assigned to the Keaau and Honoka`a stations. There are also brush trucks stationed at locations in west Hawaii.

But so far in Ka`u, firefighters have been resigned to using a modified pickup truck instead.

“This is a big plus for our community for protection from wildfires,” Rosario said.

He said acquisition of the truck will take some time, as each one is custom built according to each customer’s requirements.

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