October 25, 2023

Rankin County adds cutting edge technology to help fight woods fires

Therese Apel

EOC Director Mike Word stands next to the FYREBX, which is a new piece of equipment that can both deploy water and foam and doze fire lanes during wildfires.

As grass and woods fires rage through the state during the burn ban, firefighters and other emergency workers are running ragged, with some agencies fighting three or four fires a day.

The Rankin County Emergency Operations Center recently learned about a apparatus just developed by The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) to help deal with wildfires and forest fires. Director Mike Word got together with the Rankin County Board of Supervisors, who approved the purchase of a FYREBX, and while it’s bee on the ground for about six weeks, it’s been used over 10 times to battle the blazes that keep popping up around the county.

The FYREBX is, to Word’s knowledge, the first of its kind on this side of the Mississippi River. According to their website, FYREBX is a patent-pending series of compact track loader attachments that can transport and deploy 300 gallons and now 500 gallons of water across terrain that many trailers and other equipment have difficulty reaching.

The water can be sprayed from inside the cab, acting as a monitor gun, or fire hoses can be deployed and firefighters can manually turn on the pump from inside the cab of the compact track loader. Its compact nature gives it a bit of an advantage over some departments’ brush trucks when it comes to fitting into tight spaces.

It can also doze a fire lane, so it packs a one-two punch.

Word says its capability to spray on its own can help save manpower and energy among local fire departments.

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