A local fire department unveiled its brand new wheels this week.
The South Deerfield Fire Department debuted a utility terrain vehicle to be used during mountain rescues.
It took years of fundraising and will require extra training but Fire Chief Bill Swasey told Western Mass News that the UTV will make all the difference next time someone calls for help miles from civilization.
The 2017 Kawasaki Mule Pro-FXT is capable of traveling in many types of terrain. The 4-stroke, 800 CC machine can carry more than 1600 pounds and tow up to a ton.
"You can go from 2-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive with the click of the button,” Swasey said. “You got seating for 6 people. The bedding actually slides forward so you can have more cargo space."
After several years of fundraising and a generous $4,500 gift from Yankee Candle, this UTV was purchased by the firefighters association. It will serve many roles from wildfires to equipment transport but will be critical in mountain rescues.
Swasey said, "The fire department has seen an increase in mountain rescues over the last 5 years. Nobody has been hurt, but this UTV will help get up the mountain faster, and get to places they could never go before."
Swasey has a similar vehicle himself so it was clear to him that investing in the life-saving equipment was the way to go.
"We've gotten to some places where it's taken us 35, 40 minutes just to walk up there and get up with the patient. Something like this could cut that time down to 10 minutes."
Every firefighter will be trained to drive the UTV.
Swasey told us that with warm weather coming soon, there will be plenty of trail activity from Mt. Tom to Sugarloaf Mountain and he hopes those enjoying nature will do so safely.
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