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FIRE VEHICLE MODIFIED FOR WOODS

FIRE VEHICLE MODIFIED FOR WOODS

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With more vacation and second homes being built in remote areas of North Carolina forests, firefighters have designed a quick-response vehicle to fight blazes that regular fire trucks cannot reach.

In the western part of the state firefighters are particularly worried because of an increase in building by owners who don't give a thought to the woods being a potential fire hazard.Jerry Stevens, a representative of Dixie Fire and Safety, along with Macon County Ranger Donnie Seagle and District Ranger Jack Farmer of the North Carolina Forest Service, got together with Jack Cantwell, a representative of Hale Pumps. They set out to design a quick-response fire truck that could respond to a grass fire as well as a structure fire and that could get to a structure regular fire trucks could not, The Asheville Citizen-Times reported Wednesday.

They came up with is a vehicle they call an ``urban interface prototype.' It is the only one like it in the state.

The truck is on a one-ton Ford 350 chassis with four-wheel drive. It carries a 250-gallon tank of water, 100 more gallons than forest service trucks normally carry. It is capable of pumping 250 gallons of water a minute through two 1 1/2-inch hoses, Stevens said.

The truck is capable of drafting water from a pond or stream and can take water fed to it from other fire trucks through a supply line, Stevens said. The truck costs $25,000 - much less than a regular pumper.

``Twenty years ago, if you had a five-acre fire, it burned mostly timber. Now, with increased populations, a five-acre tract of land may contain five or more houses,' Seagle said.

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