CACHE, Okla._There is a new truck in town for the Cache Volunteer Fire Department after their old brush pumper was destroyed by flash flooding earlier this year.
Cache's old brush pumper truck was nearly swept away along with two of the department's firefighters when Cache Creek rose beyond its banks in May. The new brush pumper was purchased for about $63,000; that money came from donations, tax dollars and insurance money. The only thing that was salvageable from the old truck was the fire pump on the back, which holds 300 gallons of water.
Once they purchased the cab and chassis, it took six weeks to put the new brush pumper into operation. Fire Chief Dale Winham says they have been adding lights, radios and sirens to make this priceless piece of equipment their very own.
Chief Winham says the majority of his department's coverage area is in rural locations, which makes having two working brush pumpers invaluable.
"I couldn't live without them. They are the trucks, they are the work horses of the fire department. All of these other bigger trucks…they can't get out in the fields. They are mostly for water support, but these little trucks can get out there they can work the terrain, they can get to the fire and they can get that fire knocked down and controlled," Chief Winham explained.
Chief Winham says the truck has a few new bells and whistles, including the new addition of a winch on the front to pull the truck out when it gets stuck. He says during a bad grass fire season with the old truck, it got stuck and put his men in harm's way.
"They had to stay with the truck and fight fire, but it burned the hose. We burnt up portable radios and the crew got to the point to where, fortunately, they were able to get the fire out. The pump would still run, but then they had to abandon the vehicle so they would be able to winch themselves out now," Chief Winham said.
The trucks new LED emergency response lighting will make the truck more energy efficient than before by not pulling nearly the same power from the vehicle's battery.
"Back in the old days, we had to buy larger alternators, emergency packaging because the lights just pulled so much current. Now I can shut this truck off, flip one switch…I can use all of my emergency lighting, such as on the highway and not have to run this truck motor," Chief Winham explained.
He says since the truck was out of service, they were not able to assist on as many fires as they could previously across the county.
"This truck coming back in service also puts us back on the Comanche County Task Force. We were not able to support anybody. There were many times when the refuge was on fire, Fort Sill was on fire, I wasn't able to send anything because I had to keep trucks in my district. So, this will open us back up to be able to support others," Chief Winham said.
In the last few days, the truck has been called out to a smoke investigation and a small grass fire on the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.