Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Control District personnel have saved the citizens of the Pine Island community over $100,000 in the fabrication of the newest apparatus to the fleet of brush trucks that protect the district. In continued cooperation with the Florida Forest Service, the Fire District has acquired a "new" 1994 International all-wheel drive flatbed truck. The district calls it new because it is not only new to the department, but the 1994 truck had only "428 original miles" on it when taken delivery from the Florida Fire Service earlier this year.
The entire history of "green" Brush 153 is unknown, but what is known is that it was assigned to the United States Navy "Seabees" in Jacksonville, Fla., at the Naval Station Mayport. Reportedly, the truck was built to be used as a mechanic's service vehicle being shuttled on and off an aircraft carrier where its low mileage is accounted for.
All the equipment and tools in the compartments were brand new, never used with the tags still on them, a modern museum in essence.
The new MPIFCD brush truck, left, and the odometer showing 428.2 miles, below.
The color of the truck was kept to the original military green because of the outstanding condition of the paint and body. Brush 153 is stationed at the Bokeelia
Fire Station 3, where it will be used not only as a "brush truck, but also to access residents on flooded roads on the island where the engines cannot get to for fire or medical incidents.
Historically from back in the days of Chief Marty Slater, Frank Clay and Dale Jedlick, leading the tradition of repurposing surplus equipment into the "wildland" brush trucks used to protect Pine Island to this day, all brush trucks in service in the MPIFCD are military surplus. Based on need because of the lack of funding, it has been a necessity of survival for the district, for the employees to have the proper equipment to protect Pine Island.
Using their time and treasures, the Fire District employees continue to painstakingly develop ways to do more with less. Since 2008, the Fire District has had an approximately 31 precent decrease in property values, although this year there was an increase of 1.6 percent over last year.