Firefighters ready snowcat for duty

Staff report

Firefighters at the Elizabeth Fire Protection District spent some time last week tuning up the department's recently acquired “tracked rescue vehicle.”

The department acquired the government-surplus snowcat at no cost through the Department of Defense 1033 Re-Utilization Program.

After it arrived at the station, the vehicle was painted, stocked with equipment and had emergency lighting installed — all for a total outlay of just $2,500.

Fire Chief T.J. Steck said the vehicle, which is valued at $120,000, will do in excess of 40 mph and “runs very smoothly” over snow-covered surfaces. “It's a bit of a rough ride over dry pavement,” the chief added.

A handful of firefighters at the station have been through extensive training to operate the snowcat, which is staffed and deployed during major snow events.

The fire department also acquired a surplus Humvee in 2011 at no cost through the same Department of Defense program.

Personnel painted and installed emergency lighting on that vehicle for about $800.

The Humvee, valued at approximately $30,000, is utilized in inclement weather and also on large brush fires, said Steck.