After a severe lightning storm July 17 sent fire officials chasing multiple fires across the county, Routt County Emergency Manager Chuck Vale said he was thankful for the newest addition to the county's fleet of fire engines.
The engine, which was purchased by the North Routt Fire Protection District from the Bureau of Land Management using a BLM grant, means that both of the fire stations in North Routt now have an engine. On July 17, both engines were out on calls.
"So (the engine) did exactly what the fire district was hoping," Vale said.
The engine is a "heavy," which means it has a 500-gallon water tank and seats three people. It's built to handle wildland and structural fires, and can get up and down most driveways.
"For rural fire departments, they will be answering both (wildland and residential) calls, so the versatility of those engines for them is a real asset," said Lynn Barclay, a fire mitigation specialist with Craig Interagency Dispatch.
The engine was released by the BLM through a surplus equipment program: once an engine hits 80,000 miles or eight years of service, it's resold.
Because of policy changes made with the National Fire Plan in 2000, the BLM no longer has to go through a process of putting surplus engines up for bid on a national system, Barclay said. Instead, the BLM can sell the engines directly to departments that need them.
"We live here, so neighbors helping neighbors is what it comes down to," Barclay said.
The BLM funded the purchase of the engine for the fire district through a separate program called the BLM Rural Fire Assistance program. The program helps communities and rural volunteer fire departments meet safety, training and equipment needs.
The assistance program provided 90 percent of the $20,000 cost of the engine. The fire district provided the remainder.
"It's truly, in my mind, a great show of partnership," Vale said. "Federal, state, county, fire district -- all of those pieces fit together to increase wildfire capacity in this county, and that's a good thing."