BROOKLAND, AR (KAIT) - The Brookland Fire Department has a new tool in its arsenal that officials say was definitely needed.
Captain Bill Tripp with the Brookland Fire Protection District said with the help of others, they now have a new water tanker truck.
"Through our cooperation with the Forestry Commission and public and private donations, we will be implementing this truck," Tripp said. "It will help us with structural firefighting, but also wildland fire suppression and also high-water rescue. Which has become an issue for us here recently. Our community partners have helped us with a lot of the details on this truck and we're thankful for their support and we're also thankful for our relationship with the Arkansas Forestry Commission that's been instrumental in helping us obtain this truck."
Tripp said the truck this one is replacing has needed to go for some time.
"We're replacing a truck that was a '70s model," Tripp said. "It was a military truck. It was a Vietnam War-era military truck. We have been working on this particular project for over a year and hope to be implementing that very soon in the future. It was time for an upgrade and we're very thankful we got this truck. It's going to make a big difference in our ability to help, especially wildland fire suppression."
The new truck has many advantages the old one doesn't.
"This truck has a 2,500 water gallon tank on it," Tripp said. "It's also set up to help with tanker support for structural firefighting. So, it has a dump valve and some other things that help us in supplying water to the pumper trucks. Because of the size and the way the truck is configured, it's a very tall truck. So, that's going to help us out and assist us in the application of high-water rescue which we've had close to the northeast side of Jonesboro. We've had some instances in the last year where we could not get to the vehicle that was in danger. So, is going to help us with the height of that truck to get to those vehicles."
Thomas Lindsey with the Arkansas Forestry Commission said that he and the Forestry Commission is proud to help.
"They are the first responders," Lindsey said. "They call us when they need our support, as far as wildfires, they respond first. If they cannot handle it or they need our support then we're there to back them up. Forestry Commission has been doing this since back in the '70s. We have over 1,280 pieces of equipment throughout the state. We have over 75 counties."
Lindsey said through their new program, the equipment now belongs to the fire department.
"The fire department put in for this particular piece of equipment," Lindsey said. "They then get the title to it under this program so it becomes the fire departments truck and is no longer a lease program. It involves military surplus equipment that's been handed to the fire department in order for them to help us fight the wildfires."
Lindsey said with the population not only growing but spreading out, this was something that needed to happen.
"People are building out more and more, bigger homes," Lindsey said. "People are moving out of the main urban areas and into rural areas. So, the fire departments have been building up throughout the state and our firefighting has gone down quite a bit because of that. It's a team effort."
"Rural areas are very difficult," Tripp said. "Access is a very big problem. When we can't get to some areas, the Forestry Commission comes in and helps us with their dozer and the different assets that they have. But this truck will help us get water into areas that we previously could not get water to, to be able to get the fire out."
There are currently 15 trucks in the Brookland Fire Protection District's fleet.
Tripp said it's the support of the community and groups like the Arkansas Forestry Commission that have allowed them to keep their equipment up to date.
"Most of those trucks have been updated with newer type vehicles or are brand new," Tripp said. "This has been done through the support of our community and gives us a tremendous amount of ability to do different types of functions in the fire service."
There are 32 firefighters with the Brookland Fire Protection District.
The district covers 63 square miles and around 8,000 citizens.
"Hopefully in the near future we'll be receiving a new pumper truck," Tripp said. "That will happen sometime toward the end of this year and the first of next year. This will come from money we've gotten through state funds and donations we've received. We also plan on implementing another brush truck at one of our stations. So, we're hoping that allows our coverage area to be a more spread out, more even coverage for our district."
Tripp said the truck should be in service within the next few weeks.
For more information about the Brookland Fire Protection District, click here.