Sam Phillips, chief of Clallam County Fire District No. 2, right, holds up the keys to a refurbished brush truck used for fighting wildland fires after receiving them from Julie Knobel, assistant regional manager for the state Department of Natural Resources, during a ceremony in Port Angeles. The truck, shown on the screen in the background, was acquired by the department through a DNR surplus program that allocates used firefighting equipment to local agencies around the state. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Clallam County Fire District No. 2 refurbishes brush engine from DNR

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County Fire District No. 2 has a new brush engine to fight fires in wildlands.

Officials gathered at the district’s Port Angeles office Wednesday to dedicate a refurbished brush truck that was previously owned by the state Department of Natural Resources.

The 2001 International “Type 5” wildfire engine has a 600-gallon water tank that can be pumped while being driven along fire lines in forests, fields and other hard-to-get-to areas.

“I want to thank DNR and [state Sen.] Kevin Van De Wege for making this happen,” Clallam County Fire District No. 2 Chief Sam Phillips said in a later interview.

“Without their assistance and promotion, we wouldn’t have received it.”

Van De Wage, D-Sequim, helped author legislation that allowed low-income fire districts to take ownership of surplused DNR fire engines.

“Before, you could receive surplus engines, but you could never own it,” Phillips said.

“So there wasn’t any incentive for fire districts to refurbish them.”

Clallam 2 Fire-Rescue spent $10,125 to get the DNR engine up and running, Phillips said.

A new engine would have cost between $175,000 and $200,000, district officials said.

Van De Wege also helped Clallam 2 Fire-Rescue become a “poster child” for the used fire engine program in Western Washington, Phillips said.

Phillips, District 2 Commissioner Richard Rudd and other officials selected the engine out of 18 surplused DNR vehicles in Olympia on June 13.

Most districts did not have the option of choosing a fire engine, Clallam County Fire District No. 2 officials said.

Van De Wege, a firefighter-paramedic with Clallam County Fire District No. 3, spoke at the Wednesday ceremony in Port Angeles.

Other speakers were Clallam County Commissioner and DNR board member Bill Peach, DNR Wildfire Liaison Gary Berndt, DNR Olympic Region Manager Mona Griswold and DNR Assistant Regional Manager for Wildfire and Forest Practices Julie Knobel.

Knobel presented Phillips with the title and keys to the brush engine.

Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce ambassadors and District 2 Fire Commissioners Tom Martin and Richard Ruud cut the ribbon placing it into service.

After testing and selecting the used engine, firefighters worked to restore the operation of the water, pump and foam systems.

Angeles Collision repainted the brush truck and Copy Cat Graphics added reflective striping for safety. A new radio, emergency lights and siren were installed.

“It’s got a very short wheel base, which means it can turn around in very tight roadways and forest roads,” Phillips said in a Friday telephone interview.

The refurbished engine has a “pump and roll” capability, meaning it can pump water to suppress a fire as it travels, Phillips said.

“It’s got lots of compartment space and high sides,” Phillips added.

“It travels over terrain without bottoming out.”

The refurbished engine will replace a 30-year-old brush engine that the district will surplus.

Clallam 2 Fire-Rescue is trying to replace its aging light fleet without asking taxpayers for more money, Phillips said.

Clallam County Fire District No. 2 provides fire suppression and emergency medical services for 9,500 central-county residents outside the city of Port Angeles.

The 85-square-mile district includes the unincorporated communities of Deer Park, Gales Addition, Mount Pleasant, Black Diamond, Dry Creek and Lake Sutherland.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsula dailynews.com.

 

Guests gather outside of the Clallam County Fire District No. 2 office in Port Angeles for the dedication of a new brush truck. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)