Fire department rolls out new, high tech mobile command truck

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston Fire Department currently seeking national accreditation, after it went down in rating following an investigation after the deadly Sofa Super Store fire. Firefighters hope new high tech equipment will help improve their rating and save property and lives.

A thermal camera, air tank, radios, and more are all on board the CFD's new "Command Vehicle." It's all life saving firefighting equipment available in the department's first of its kind vehicle.

"It's a big difference. We have a lot more room in here. We've actually created the inside of the vehicle for command, with all of our gear and special equipment is kept in the back so it doesn't get cluttered," CFD Battalion Chief Jack Detournillon said.

For big multi-unit response fires, they may bring in the new decked out F250 truck. An incident commander, command aide, and senior advisor with the department take control of a fire scene from inside the vehicle, keeping radio contact with firefighters out on the scene.

"By being inside we're out of the elements. We can hear very clearly on the radio, understand what's going on," Detournillon said.

Right now CFD has an Insurance Service Organization Class 3 rating, which is down from ISO Class 1 three years ago. Firefighters hope new equipment like this will help improve the rating or help get the department national accreditation.

On scene commanders inside the vehicle can keep an eye on the fire and firefighters on the ground can maintain visuals with the command post because of the green light on top. The incident commander also has access to a computer in the truck with maps, charts, and possible pre-plans for buildings.

"This helps out a lot. We don't carry that on every single vehicle. So when I get there or this vehicle gets there, we have additional equipment to help augment operations," Detournillon said.

Charleston started using the command vehicle firefighting method of firefighting, modeling it after the Phoenix, Arizona Fire Department, which has been more than 20 years.

So far the fire department has one command vehicle, but it has secured funding for three more from the city. They cost more than $60,000 each.

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