Big rig to add might to rural firefighting

RIO HONDO — The latest addition to the Volunteer Fire Department isn’t like your traditional fire truck.

This big rig brush truck can cross wild land and farm land.

It comes with military grade tires and tall aluminum bedding carrying a water tank that holds up to 1,000 gallons of water.

Chief William Bilokury said once the truck is certified for use, it will add versatility in wild land situations such as brush fires, trash fires, farm land fires and wild fires.

Once it’s updated, it will be equipped with firefighting equipment and medical equipment and will be used as a multi-rural fire truck.

And it will allow firefighters to fight fire without even stepping out of the truck.

“It has an automatic nozzle so we can roller raid in with the pump fired up and fire fight from the cabin of the truck,” Bilokury said.

The rotating water pump nozzle shoots 250 gallons of water per minute. It is attached in front of the truck. It is controlled with a handheld joy stick that has a trigger attached to release water.

It turns 180 degrees and can tilt up and down while the water pressure is on.

“We can push out 1,000 gallons real quick,” Bilokury said.

He said the brush truck was paid for through a grant from the Texas A&M Forest Service.

The service paid 90 percent and the city paid 10 percent of the total cost.

“It’s pump and roll. The guys stay in the safety of the cab and they are not down on the ground in 100 plus degree weather in gear dealing with the hazards,” Bilokury said about the brush truck.

The Rio Hondo Volunteer Fire Department’s emergency services district encompasses 150 square miles of urban and rural areas.

He said when a house catches fire home owners want them there with the right equipment and the right training.

They provide fire and rescue operations and are responsible for the brush land along the Arroyo Colorado and farm land.

He said last week firefighters put out a cotton bale fire.

“We do have a lot of rural issues out here,” Bilokury said. “This time of the year cotton bale fire happens left and right.”