Big Bear Lake, CA — The Big Bear Lake Fire Department is getting a new truck—not another firetruck, as was purchased in December—but a new Ford F350 Super Duty, to tow the roughly 10,000 pound incident support trailer acquired last year. The department’s existing utility truck, a 2001 Dodge Ram 2500 has had difficulty in towing the large emergency support trailer up the mountain—however, the new trailer will fund the purchase of a new truck. The mobile command and medical unit trailer was deployed to emergency incidents when not in use in Big Bear and, given its use by the U.S. Forest Service during the 2009 wildfire season, our local fire department generated over $55,000 in revenue—about $31,000 more than expected—which will more than cover the cost of the Ford F350 (at $33,000), though there will be additional costs in outfitting the truck with emergency devices and radios. In the meantime, the emergency trailer, known as the IS-281, will continue to generate outside income this year, while also being available to the Big Bear community.
In other news from the Big Bear Lake Fire Protection District, which held their monthly meeting including Fire Chief Rod Ballard, Chairman Darrell Mulvihill and City Manager Jeff Mathieu, last week, firefighters responded to 344 incidents in January, which is about 40 more than in January 2009. Of those 344 calls, Chief Ballard’s report indicates that 220 of those were EMS calls, two were structure fires, 14 were downed power line incidents, and 18 were categorized as “severe weather or natural disaster.” During January winter storm operations, additional staffing was in place prior to the snowfall and, when heavy firetrucks with snow chains were unable to effectively respond to unplowed areas, the fire department solicited mutual aid from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, which supplied snowcats and snowmobiles and when call volumes increased (to 40-45 calls in a 24-hour period), additional snowmobiles were provided by Big Bear Mountain Resorts for firefighters’ emergency use.

When snow depths and road conditions were too much for the Big Bear Lake Fire Department's Engine 281, snowmobiles were used as first-response vehicles.