New Tool for Fighting Brushfires

HFD Chief, Kenneth Silva
HFD Chief, Kenneth Silva
Molly Rondau
Molly Rondau

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- The Honolulu Fire Department will soon have a new tool, to take the fight against brushfires, to the front lines.

When the islands dry out next year and brushfire season begins again, HFD should have a new weapon to beat back the flames.

The island's first "BRAT" or brush rapid attack truck, that can hold 300 gallons of water, and get that water to the fire line fast.

"What we do in the first 20 minutes dictates what we do for the next two hours, so the quicker we can get to the head of the fire, the quicker we can put it out," says HFD Chief, Kenneth Silva.

The fire department already has tankers that can hold up to 2000 gallons. That is a lot of water, but when it comes to brushfires, the tankers can't always get to where the water is needed.

But the BRAT is designed for off road firefighting.

"It can gain access where our others trucks can't go. So it provides support for firefighters pounding it out in the mountains," says Silva.

Currently crews have to rely on helicopter help from above when they are working with fires beyond the reach of hydrants and tankers.

Initial donations of nearly $60 thousand for the new truck came from local insurance agencies. After their members saw the battle fire crews had in recent brushfires.

"In the wake of the recent wildfires, they were short 1 or 2 of these trucks and a large donation to help track down the fires with the BRAT truck would be beneficial, saving both property and lives," says Molly Rondau, with the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company.

The fire department will apply for the remaining money for the new truck from the federal government. But add, their normal budget is for standard equipment like regular trucks and ladders, and without the donation they would not be getting this specially designed brushfire fighting truck.