BONNE TERRE — Thanks to a federal program through the Missouri Department of Conservation and the good will of a local businessman, the Big River Fire Protection District has a new truck in their fleet of vehicles.
The truck was made available to the local fire department through a program called the Federal Excess Property Program. The program is open to any Missouri fire department who will assist in a cover land fire through a mutual aid agreement.
“The Big River Fire Protection District applied for a brush truck,” said Leon Peterson of the Missouri Department of Conservation. “We get these trucks through the Federal Excess Property Program. This truck came available under an emergency need because the department was needing one pretty bad.”
According to Big River Fire Protection Chief David Pratte, getting the new truck was essential as the brush equipment the department had was old and needed to be replaced.
“We had a definite need for new brush equipment,” Pratte said. “We had some older brush equipment that we had gotten through the Missouri Department of Conservation through the years. The equipment had gotten older and unreliable. It all goes back to safety with our firefighters. Not only in the woods, but to get to a fire safely without breaking down.”
The truck that the department received is a 1986 Chevrolet four-door truck that is capable of transporting six people. When the department originally received the truck it was green, but due to the good will of Jim Kernan of Kernan’s Autobody the truck now matches the other vehicles in the department’s fleet.
“The department sanded the truck down and I furnished the labor and the paint to fix some of the dents and repaint the truck,” Kernan said. “I wanted to give something back to the community that I am a part of.”
The truck is equipped with several items that were purchased through a Cost Share Program through the Missouri Department of Conservation.
“We bought a pump and had a tank built for the truck,” said Bruce Pratte of the Big River Fire Protection District. “We were also able to purchase tool boxes to contain our equipment as well as other items we need when we are on a site.”
The truck will not only be used to fight fires but will also be utilized when responding to EMS calls as well.
“The truck’s main function is a brush truck,” Captain Brian Williams said. “In the winter time it will be used on EMS calls because it is the only four-wheel drive truck the department has. If we need to assist with a mutual aid call to somewhere like Potosi it will come in handy because we can transport six people in the truck.”