The Junction City Volunteer Fire Department hopes its two new fire engines will shorten response times and improve service in its district. The department recently added a second new engine to its fleet and will be retiring out some old ones.
JCVFD Chief Justin Kerwick said the engines are essentially on loan from the federal government.
“Basically, these are still federal engines, owned by the federal government,” he explained, “but they are excess to the federal need because they have been replaced. As part of the program in California, volunteer companies or other departments in need can acquire operable and decent quality equipment.”
He said his department can use the equipment until it’s no longer needed, at which point, it can be returned to the federal government.
While the engines are not brand new, Kerwick said they are an improvement over current equipment. The two International brand engines were manufactured in 2003 and 2002. One is four-wheel-drive and the other is a two-wheel drive unit. Both have 500-gallon water tanks and two-stage pumps.
“A lot of our stuff is from 1983 and it’s in need of repair or replacement,” he said. “This (newer) equipment is faster, the pumps are more powerful, and the crew sits inside, instead of outside the engine.” Kerwick said the new engines are also equipped with automatic transmissions, making them quicker and more maneuverable, meaning shorter response times in Junction City.
The four-wheel-drive engine will not need to use tire chains in winter months, saving time and lessening the fire risk created by chain-generated sparks.
Kerwick noted that snow and ice usually only occur in the higher elevations, meaning tire chains need to be installed and taken off during some calls.
“It’s a real problem to judge when to pull the chains and go down the highway when you’re slapping metal on dry pavement,” he said. “The four-by-four will be a big help and will basically be an all-weather rig and the second one will replace an older one we had.”
Kerwick said the only cost to the department came from painting the two engines at about $4,700 each.
JCVFD currently has about 12 volunteer firefighters. The department welcomes qualified volunteers and holds regular training sessions at its station. Call Kerwick at 739-9903 for more information.