TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Bighorn Fire burned for weeks, with hundreds of personnel fighting it - many from other areas of Arizona and the country. Now, the Tucson Fire Department is expanding its wildland firefighting program to help our community and others.
Burning nearly 120,000 acres, the Bighorn Fire not only lit the mountain, but shed light on a need.
“The Bighorn Fire was a big reminder to us of the importance of learning forward with this program and maybe putting our foot on the gas a little bit more,” said Chuck Ryan, Chief of the Tucson Fire Department.
TFD is expanding its wildland firefighting program. While about a dozen TFD firefighters have some form of wildland training and experience - there has been no formal program for years.
“I think with the recession years that required a little bit of ‘bunker’ mentality, if you will,” said Ryan.
Two new brush tenders will help with in-city grass and brush fires, but a new type three engine will help fight wildfires, like the Bighorn or others around the US. The expansion will also allow TFD firefighters to gain more experience on wildfires, giving them hours to become certified and teach others in the department. Those who want to gain the experience to get certified can do so.
“That will allow us really to participate more effectively with resource requests either in Arizona or … out of state deployments,” said Ryan.
The new engines are paid for by Prop 101 funds, that was passed in 2017. The Type 3 engine has been ordered and will be in town late 2020. It’s equipment that will help the entire region.