European Wildland Fire Engines in the Service of American Fire Agencies and Departments
by Beverly B. Voelkelt
Copyright © B.O.R. Consulting
Below is a small sample of European designed Fire Engines in the service of American agencies and departments. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has a long tradition of using Unimogs because this chassis can be used in many different ways, including functioning as a dozer to grade trails or cut a fire line. Some smaller fire departments in the South West also use the Unimog for its extraordinary fire fighting capabilities, its multi purpose applications, its durability and dependability. The Unimog typically covers all of the afore mentioned, which makes it very appealing despite its relatively high initial purchase price.
A relatively new addition to the arsenal of American fire engines is the Czech Tatra, marketed in the U.S. by American Truck Company (ATC) after purchasing Tatra about a decade ago. Tatra still builds the chassis and drive train in Europe and, for the American market, engine and transmission are added here, as are the fire fighting gear. Tatra Brush Engines based on a 6x6 or 8x8 chassis are perfect for wide open brush areas as one finds in many parts of the country. Thus, it was only natural for the BLM to adopt both Tatra chassis for fire fighting. Interesting to note is that San Diego, after the horrific Cedar Fire, decided to upgrade its abilities to handle wildfires in open brush areas that make up a large part of San Diego's wildland urban interface with the Tatra Brush Engine.