Oregon grant expands response area for 6 fire departments

Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 11:29 AM PST
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CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. (KPTV) - The Hoodland Fire District is now able to get places faster.

They are one of six fire districts in Oregon receiving a new “CORE” vehicle that can help with response time.

Hoodland division chief Scott Kline said it can handle some of the district’s terrain, around Mount Hood, easier.

“This vehicle actually has a turning radius of about a Toyota Tacoma truck so it’s a really tight turning vehicle,” Kline said. “Just the height in it to get through really rough areas or ground clearance.”

The Hoodland Fire District accepted the delivery of the vehicle about three weeks ago.

With fold-down benches in the back, it is primarily designed for flooding rescues. But when that isn’t happening, Kline said they plan to add wildfire fighting capabilities.

“If we get called up, we’ll be able to unbolt it out real quickly,” he said.

These vehicles are being delivered through a state grant called State Preparedness and Incident Response Equipment (SPIRE).

The other districts that will get them are Aurora, Cannon Beach, Eugene-Springfield, Evans Valley and Warrenton.

EarthCruiser CEO Lance Gillies, which manufactures CORE, said it worked closely with these first responders for the vehicle design.

“We were laser-focused on building something that those folks knew they needed,” Gillies said. “We were fortunate to be able to have the skills to put it together.”

What’s even more meaningful for Gillies is all these vehicles are made in Oregon. EarthCruiser is headquartered in Bend.

“It’s absolutely huge,” he said. “The fact that these trucks were designed and built and now put to work in this state is enormous.”

Kline is now putting this locally built vehicle into action. He wants to see how it could improve some of the district’s past responses, like a major flood on Lolo Pass Road in 2011.

“We would’ve been able to facilitate more evacuations early on as the road became impassable,” he said. “The vehicle probably would’ve been more useful to take around and move people up and down the road to their houses.”