Blackfoot Valley Dispatch - The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

By Roger Dey

Lincoln Fire Rescue fields new command rig


January 8, 2020

Roger Dey

Lincoln Fire Chief Zach Muse pulls the new command truck's equipment rack out. The vehicle came outfitted with the rack, providing organized storage space for emergency response equipment.

The Lincoln Volunteer Fire Department has taken on a more crimson hue with the addition of another new vehicle to its fleet.

Last week the department acquired a 2003 Ford Excursion for use as the new command vehicle for the department, replacing the Ford diesel pickup truck driven by Lincoln Fire Chief Zach Muse.

The new vehicle comes to Lincoln from the Helena Fire Department, where it served as their "Rescue 2," a sister unit to "Rescue 3," the Ford F550 rescue truck the LVFD received from the HFD in mid-October.

"The city was kind enough to give us two rigs now," Muse said.

Muse had asked the Helena Fire Department about the larger rescue vehicle last winter, and later asked about their aging command vehicle. When he inquired again over the summer, the command vehicle wasn't on the table, but he was told they were planning on divesting themselves of the Excursion.

The new vehicle comes fully outfitted with lights, sirens and radio mounts, as well as slide out storage to help organize and protect equipment from dust and dirt. The new truck also has about 100,000 fewer miles on it than the LVFD pickup .

"It's just a nicer outfit. It's still capable of pulling whatever we need to pull," Muse said. "This will be nicer in the long run."

Decked out with the traditional red, white and gold livery of the city fire department, the new vehicle is the third red vehicle for the LVFD, joining the large rescue and the EMS Sprint unit, a 2004 Excursion donated to the fire district by TD & H Engineering in 2017.

"The red ones will be the rescue vehicles, the rest will be the fire trucks," Muse said.

Since Lincoln Fire Rescue had already received the big rescue vehicle from HFD, Muse said the city balked at simply handing another rig over to them. To keep things above board, Helena Fire Chief Mike Chambers sent the offer out to the other volunteer fire departments around the county. Muse said in the end, members of the Lewis and Clark Rural Fire Council Members agreed it should go to Lincoln.

The new command rig marks the third vehicle the LVFD has acquired at no cost in the last year. They were also able to secure a pickup through the federal excess property program. During the winter the truck will serve as the plow truck for the department, while in the summer it will be a utility vehicle that can be used on fires to haul supplies or porta-tanks.

"We're getting a lot of free stuff that really improves our ability to respond," Muse said. "These rigs are critical because of the speed."

Roger Dey

The new command vehicle (left) sits in front of the fire hall Jan. 3 , nose to nose with Lincoln Fire Rescue's EMS sprint unit.

The large rescue truck has already been proving its value. Muse said last week it had already responded to three vehicle accidents and one carbon monoxide leak, saving them the expense of taking out the fire engine they had relied on in the past. At one of the accidents during a snow storm, he said they were able let the four passengers from the wrecked vehicle wait in the heated squad compartment of the vehicle, keeping them out of the weather.

As for the old command truck, it will go out for bid once it has been fully decommissioned, probably in the spring. Muse said they're putting it out through a sealed bid process to ensure everyone interested in it has a fair shot at it and to avoid any appearance of impropriety. "We send all the bids to the secretary, they're all sealed until the last day. Whoever has the highest bid gets it," Muse said.


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