The Atascadero Fire Department arrived on the scene of a car wreck in a red and white truck as firefighters hustled to assess the situation. As they headed to the crushed, overturned car, they grabbed their tools and a neck brace for the person trapped inside.
Though the scene was just an exercise on a training video, it demonstrated what the fire department could do with its new disaster response vehicle once it’s outfitted with the needed gear. The fire department is trying to collect $100,000 in community and corporate donations for the effort. While Atascadero identified a rescue trailer as one of its strategic planning goals in the early 2000s, city funds can’t cover the project in the economic downturn. Since last year, the community began pitching in with donations of items, time and labor to help move along the project. By early April, the department had raised $6,700 of its goal, with checks for an additional $1,000 coming in. Grant money is also being sought.
“All of the money is going towards (it),” Capt. Matt Miranda said. “Nothing extra.”
Once it’s set up, the department can use the vehicle to respond to a variety of emergencies such as those dealing with hazardous materials, swift water and rescues in collapsed buildings. Having a dedicated vehicle for technical rescues frees up two of the department’s fire engines for other emergencies in the city, Capt. Bill White said.
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Neighboring fire departments, hospitals and utility companies could also benefit.
The vehicle has not yet been used in a call, but has been featured in the department’s training exercises.
The response vehicle is made up of two main parts — a repurposed wild land fire vehicle from the department and a donated 32-foot trailer. The trailer’s 16 bays need to be stocked with emergency response tools such as decontamination supplies, concrete cutting saws, an entry torch and dozens of other items, Miranda said. It will also carry the lumber and power tools needed for firefighters to build structural braces at disaster scenes. The tools will aid firefighters in preventing structures from crumbling onto victims or rescuers.
While the repurposed chassis only has 18,000 miles on it, its water tank and pump had wear. Instead of retiring it, staff saved the chassis, installed new brakes and removed the items in disrepair.
“As a tractor, it should run very well for many more years,” Miranda said, adding that it passed a safety inspection.
How to help
The Atascadero Firefighters Association is having a fundraising barbecue for the project from noon to 3 p.m. May 28 at 6005 Lewis Ave. Tickets are $10 per plate.
To donate, contact Fire Capt. Matt Miranda at firstname.lastname@example.org or 461-5070, ext. 3320.
The Atascadero Fire Department’s fundraiser is detailed on the Atascadero Fire disaster response trailer Facebook page.