The North Sonoma Coast Fire Protection District (NSCFPD has recently acquired two new vehicles that will improve our district’s firefighting capabilities. A major goal that drove the formation of the North Sonoma Coast Fire Protection District) in 2016 was to have more funds for replacing aging or unsafe fire apparatus, and the freedom to make our own decisions regarding apparatus acquisition. In our first two years, NSCFPD was able to address the top three urgent vehicle needs with the acquisition of Rescue 4433, Engine 4457, and Water Tender 4490 (see New NSC Apparatus). Progress on our long-term vehicle replacement plans has continued, and the department is very happy to have added two critically needed vehicles to our fleet this year.
In March a new "Chief’s Rig", numbered "4400", was put into service. The new 4400 is a 2020 Ford Ranger which has been "upfitted" with emergency lights, sirens, and radios, with a custom shell and roll-out tray in the bed for equipment. The mid-size truck was chosen to have something fairly small and agile, with 4-wheel drive, to be able to navigate all of the roads in the District as well as many off-road locations. Hopefully it will serve as the Chief's truck for another 15 to 20 years. The new 4400 replaces a 1997 Ford Explorer which had given long and rugged service but was increasingly unreliable, was far past the usual mileage limits for first-out emergency vehicles, and was starting to have structural failures such as rust in the roof. The 4400 truck is used mainly by the Fire Chief to respond directly to incidents, but it also may be used if department personnel need to travel somewhere on department business. Having a passenger vehicle also comes in handy at some incidents when you need to move personnel from one place to another, or sometimes to ferry the medical team from an air ambulance helicopter to an incident scene.
The really big addition is our new Engine 4483. This engine replaces "old E4483", which was a 1990 Ford "cab-over" engine with an open back seat. The old engine is still functional and relatively low-mileage, but its body and equipment have suffered the inevitable damage from damp and sea air, and its configuration does not meet current safety standards for firefighting.
The new 4483 was custom-built for the District by Rosenbauer in Minnesota. District staff looked at many options to find an engine configuration powerful enough to fill the "type 1" category (specific requirements for amount of water it can hold and pump and hose it can carry), but short enough to be able to navigate the majority of the District's roads and steep driveways. The new engine is a huge leap forward in technology from the old one, with digital controls and a pump that can provide low or high pressure. Like the old engine, it also has a roof-mounted "monitor" (really big nozzle) that can be used to deliver large amounts of water at a major structure fire. The total cost of the engine was $402,621.
The new E4483 was picked up from Modesto by District staff on May 15 and should be in service before the end of June. A great deal of work must go into preparing the engine for service. We need to determine the exact placement of all equipment, install custom dividers/brackets in the compartments, and train our firefighters on its use. The pump controls and placement are quite different from the other engines and the whole department needs to be comfortable with it before it goes into service.
These two vehicles are the last two from the "these really need to be replaced" list that we started with in 2016. Going forward, we hope to thoughtfully plan for apparatus replacement as vehicles age and needs change, without allowing any single vehicle to be in service longer than it safely should be. We are disappointed that we were not able to introduce the new vehicles at the 2020 Memorial Weekend picnic, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. But we look forward to showing them off in the future when we can again gather in groups. In the meantime, the new vehicles will be in service to provide improved capability for our district.