Hillsboro approves new brush fire truck
Brush fires are among the most common calls for Hillsboro’s fire department. With the department’s oldest brush fire truck coming up on 19 years of use, fire chief Ben Steketee appeared at a city council meeting Tuesday to ask for a new one.
“Wildfires are changing,” Steketee said. “They’re getting more wind-driven, dry, and with more interface — where homes and structures are indicated. We need something more robust that can carry the amount of water we need.”
Matt Hein one of Hillsboro’s fire captains, estimated a new truck would cost $242,563. It would hold 1,500 gallons and the driver could operate it alone. It would have a spray nozzle on the driver’s side, a wench if it or other trucks get stuck, and a thermal imaging camera to find hot spots.
It could last between 15 and 20 years, serving Hillsboro and surrounding areas.
Repurposing retired military equipment from the forestry service also was considered, but the vehicles would not be capable of going over 50 mph, could tip over more easily, would not have air bags or breaks, and have been out of stock for months, Steketee said.
“It’s a used military vehicle, so it’s not as safe or, quite frankly, as comfortable as a new vehicle is going to be,” he said.
Council members voted to pay half of the cost with cash and finance the remaining half. The new truck will arrive in six months to a year. The old truck will be kept for reserve and task force deployment.
In other business, Mayor Lou Thurston and city administrator Matt Stiles were named voting delegates for the next league municipalities meeting, and the city agreed to purchase and demolish a red brick building at 128 S. Main St.