The Fort Calhoun Volunteer Fire Department (FCVFD) unveiled its second new vehicle of the past few months — a fire command vehicle, which Fire Chief Dan Mallory said the department could get because of community goodwill.
"All of our EMS equipment and supplies, that's all donation based," Mallory said. "Then when it comes to the command vehicle, and even the aerial we just bought, that was all donation money. No tax dollars going in."
FCVFD holds fundraisers throughout the year, such as an annual pancake feed, which give community members a chance to give freewill donations to the department.
Those donations helped the department purchase a 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe, formerly used as a police vehicle, which is now the new Fire Car 1 command vehicle. The department sold a late 2000s pickup for $19,000 and purchased the Tahoe, found online, for $26,000.
Mallory will drive the vehicle to fire and rescue scenes, using it to survey the scene and keep track of firefighters duties and current resources.
"As a chief's vehicle, this one's suited for a command vehicle," Mallory said. "Especially for the accountability of it — whose on scene, what they're doing, what they're assigned to. You can track everyone who’s coming in and exactly what they're doing."
A command cabinet will be in the back of the vehicle to carry supplies. The cabinet also features a pull-up whiteboard for Mallory to write notes to keep track of goings on at fire or rescue scenes. Eventually, Mallory said a laptop will be installed on the command cabinet so he can keep track of firefighters digitally.
"The air-packs actually send a signal out to this vehicle, and we'll be able to track everyone's air," he said. "So, if you're inside of a fire and you're running even at half bottle, I'll be able to monitor that from outside and be able to call and make sure that they get out of the residence or out of the building and get a fresh bottle."
Mallory added that firefighters can also hit a red button on their air-pack that would send a signal out to the vehicle to let him know if someone is trapped in a building.
"It'll (identify) based on what apparatus they responded on," he said. "Now I can go back to my accountability (whiteboard) and get resources assigned to go find out where they're at and give them a hand."
The command cabinet and other vehicle preparations were done by assistant fire chiefs Justin Thompson and Ben Ruthven, which saved a lot of money compared to outsourcing, Mallory said.
"Lot of hours put into it," he said. "It looks like a brand new rig … it's going to last us quite awhile."
The department previously used an early 2010s pickup as its command vehicle. Mallory said the pickup wasn't working well for its purpose and didn't feature a command cabinet, so it was unorganized. The old command vehicle will be kept by the department and used by members to drive to training, pick up supplies or for additional firefighters to get to a scene if they're needed.
The new command vehicle is the second new vehicle the department has purchased since the end of March. Earlier this spring, FCVFD unveiled an aerial ladder fire truck which had been previously owned by the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department. The ladder truck was purchased for $24,000.
Mallory said the department is making progress in a lot of areas thanks to the generosity and care of the community.
"That just shows the support we have from the community and how much we really do rely on the donation part of it," he said.