Ford Motor Company and the Bronco Wild Fund are donating a Bronco Badlands SUV with Sasquatch off-road package to the National Park Service for use in Bandelier National Monument, where it will operate as a firefighting command vehicle, the automaker announced.
The 33,000-acre Bandelier National Monument is in northern New Mexico, about a two-hour drive north of Albuquerque and is composed of rugged canyons and mesas that contain petroglyphs, cliffs dwellings and evidence of human presence going back over 11,000 years, according to the National Park Service. Bandelier’s position in the transition zone of the high desert of the American Southwest provides a unique environment where the rapid effects of climate change have been observed and studied. The park has a history of natural fire occurrences, and as the fire season grows longer, the park is experiencing more repeated fires in the same landscape.
Two-thirds of Bandelier is designated wilderness, meaning it lacks infrastructure and is difficult to access. The Bronco wildland firefighting command rig will enhance Bandelier’s fire fleet, expanding their current capabilities, Ford said.
This Bronco is the first of two that are being developed by Darley for donation to the National Park Services and a wildland firefighting agency that will be the subject of a future announcement, Ford said. The intent of this pilot program is to develop a tool that addresses an unmet need by allowing a deeper command position with reliable connectivity as well as facilitate the acquisition and sharing of valuable information to aid firefighters.
Darley is a global manufacturer and distributor of defense, fire and rescue vehicles, and is the company carrying out the customization. The vehicle is upfit with an array of equipment to help the park monitor and manage active fires, assist with identifying fires, deliver real-time updates on fire location and severity, and provide other firefighting support, Ford said.
To achieve these objectives, the rig is equipped with a state-of-the-art government communication system, including satellite and antenna connections, which will allow firefighters to establish a real-time backcountry command and control position with the crews during emergency operations, designers said. The vehicle also includes a drone with live feed screens on the vehicle, tablet computer and special software providing the first response team with improved aerial reconnaissance, detection capabilities and improved situational awareness.
Other specialized hardware includes a grille guard, a factory-installed Warn winch, a set of beadlock wheels, and a roof rack fitted with a light bar, search and emergency lights and siren.