Sherman Fire-Rescue welcomed a new heavy-rescue unit into its lineup of emergency response vehicles on Tuesday.


The $600,000 vehicle, which is built on a Spartan chassis, features a 450-horsepower Cummins engine and stands approximately 11 feet tall and 37 feet long. Division Chief Thomas Brown said the new vehicle will be manned by three firefighters on a daily basis and replace a combination of smaller trucks and trailers, which the department has used since 2007 to deploy equipment to rescue calls.


“That’s the biggest reason we went for it,” Brown said. “It’s not really changing the way we respond or our capabilities, at this point. Now, we just have it all on one vehicle for a faster response and getting critical materials and tools to the scene in a safer manner.”


Brown said the vehicle was built by SVI Trucks in Fort Collins, Colorado, and driven to Houston, where it was further customized by Metro Fire Apparatus Specialists. The division chief said the vehicle will be placed in service later this month and will respond to a variety of emergency situations from its base at the department’s central station off South Travis Street.


“We have some logistical thinking to do as far as how we’re going to respond or deploy this vehicle,” Brown said. “But it will go to major vehicle accidents and any specialty rescue situation — high angle rescue, trench rescue, confined space rescue, water events and so on.”


One of the truck’s most unique features, Brown said, is an on-board air compressor that will give the vehicle and crews added flexibility in responding to fire-related calls.


“It also has the capability to go to a structure fire, house fire or industrial fire because it can refill our SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) cylinders there at the scene,” Brown said.


Fire crews got the chance to tour and inspect the vehicle immediately after it arrived in town on Tuesday afternoon. Brown said while virtually all the tools on the vehicle are the same ones Sherman firefighters currently use, crews will undergo additional training to better understand the ins and outs of the new rig.


“They’ll learn the new electronics system on the truck and then learn how to operate the SCBA filter on it,” Brown said. “So that’s the main training on it, in addition to a refresher on the tools we’ve already had.”


Brown said he didn’t expect to get the greatest gas mileage out of the new heavy-rescue vehicle, but that it would be a valuable addition to the department and make a statement about the agency’s commitment to public safety.


“Just know that the fire department is looking to the future,” Brown said. “We’re preparing not for what we have to do daily, but what we could be asked to do. We’re just doing everything we can to put the safety of our citizens, our visitors and our community first and to be ready for anything that comes our way.”