SMFD Receives New Command Unit

This 2019 Police Edition Chevrolet Tahoe is the newest addition to the St. Marys Fire Department. The vehicle will serve as a command station on incident scenes and employs advances in technology and safety to better serve the fire department.This 2019 Police Edition Chevrolet Tahoe is the newest addition to the St. Marys Fire Department. The vehicle will serve as a command station on incident scenes and employs advances in technology and safety to better serve the fire department.Command 150 responded to a mutual aid fire with New Knoxville Fire Department on Monday morning. Some of the upgrades to the unit make joint operations such as this easier.
By: 
TERESA DOWLING
Staff Writer

There is a new, red truck rolling through town and while it’s not a new fire engine, it serves just as important of a role. Labeled as Command 150, the incident command vehicle for the St. Marys Fire Department recently received an upgrade. 

Replacing a 2009 Ford Expedition is a 2019 Chevrolet Tahoe but it’s not just any Tahoe. The new command vehicle is outfitted with an array of features that will help St. Marys Fire Chief Doug Ayers be as efficient as possible on an incident scene.

“I have a variety of radios in the new unit that will allow me to communicate with several agencies,” Ayers said. “The whole command center in the back is updated so I’m able to talk with my department, other fire departments, land helicopters and talk to law enforcement. It was designed for the changes of our response and the incidents that we respond to.”

While the majority of the calls that the $60,000 vehicle responds to are related to medical emergencies, Ayers noted that some of the advanced capabilities were specifically ordered because of the ever-present threat of active situations such as shootings and bomb threats.

Ayers’ Tahoe is also outfitted with an additional safety feature specific to handling the hazardous materials present on a fire scene. The chief stores his firefighting, or bunker, gear in the command vehicle since it is his primary response vehicle. The dangers come after being on a fire scene.

“The biggest thing we are finding is that a lot of carcinogens end up trapped on the gear and then they are released into the air until the gear is properly washed,” Ayers said.

To combat exposure to these carcinogens and reduce the risk of developing cancer, the vehicle is outfitted with a Gear Clear compartment to contain the hazards and ventilates them to the outside, keeping Ayers’ SUV clean and safe.

The previous command vehicle will be staying in the city but will change the department it serves. Once the decals and light bar have been removed, the white SUV will be transferred to the engineering department as a utility vehicle. The Tahoe, however, will get its fair share of work in its anticipated 10 to 15 year life with the fire department. 

“The vehicle is used every day for everything from going back and forth to city offices to responding to emergencies,” Ayers said. 

Command 150 was picked up from Parr Public Safety Equipment, Inc. on Thursday morning and has been on duty since.

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