STRONACH TWP. – The construction period took almost two years and the latest vehicle in the Stronach city fire brigade’s fleet is about to be completed.
The vehicle deviates from the norm in a few ways: how it looks, how it works, and how it came together in the first place.
Wayne Lindeman, Stronach Township Fire Chief, pointed out that while the truck is mechanically finished, it’s not finished yet, and the department has big plans for the finishing touches, such as a vinyl graphic representation of a Tasmanian devil, more lights, lugnut spikes and Flame LED decals for aesthetics.
“Since this truck is such a beast, we thought that would be appropriate,” said Lindeman of the graphic plans. “It will be unique.
“You will never see a truck like this again,” he said, describing all the work that went into making the truck and its unique style.
Lindeman said the department expects to replace its leaky 1,200-gallon tanker truck with the more rugged truck that can hold about 2,000 gallons – and is a truck that “can go anywhere”.
Lindeman attributed a large part of the project to Justin Zoscsak, the owner of Will Zoscsak Logging and Trucking, in the Stronach community.
“Justin came up to me one day and said, ‘What can we do for the fire department? What do you need? ‘”Lindeman recalled. “We went through several ideas and finally came up with the idea (the idea for the truck).”
Zoscsak said it all started with an emergency at Will Zoscsak Logging and Trucking.
“And the moment you want to help, you want to solve a problem, but there is nothing you can do. It’s just one of the most helpless feelings, ”said Zoscsak. “These familiar faces appeared among the first responders in our community in the fire department and helped to deal with the situation in which something like this – where nothing can be done – and there are people who are important to you and who need medical help and you have people you know who are there to do better.
He said the experience made the company think about how it could give back to the department.
“After that happened, it put things in perspective for us. Here we work, we live in this community and we are in this situation where we needed help quickly and the first people who were there were people you know, ”he explained.
Lindeman said that since Stronach Township is so rural and in what is considered a double township due to its size, the fire department is responsible for covering a lot of ground in places where there are no hydrants.
He said this truck was ideal for the department’s unique needs.
Zoscsak said they took the first semi-trailer truck the company owned and traded it for a lifted Ford that used to be a consumer-energy truck.
“We had an old Kenworth tractor-trailer … and we wanted to restore it and do something with it, but we just looked at it and thought maybe (we could) just try to do something for the common good with this truck,” he said. “By taking something that we had, with the help of the community, we were able to turn it into something else, different companies helping out as suppliers for parts and labor.”
When Zoscsak started describing the project to the vendors, people were happy to help.
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Lindeman said Zoscsak bought an electric mast drill that was stripped down to the frame.
“And we’ve since made an upgrade on it,” he said.
This included aspects like making a bumper, the grille, changing the hydraulic systems, pump assembly and manufacturing, wiring, painting and other parts that many businesses and individuals have made possible.
“It doesn’t cost the community or taxpayers a cent,” said Lindeman. “Justin was the financier through Zoscsak Logging, but Arcadia Truck (Repair) was working on it, Banicki Sandblasting, paint was donated. There is only one list of players in this game.
“That’s great, you don’t see it all the time,” continued Lindeman. “So often you just think we’re doing this, but we’re not valued until we’re needed. This is not the case at all if you really stop and look around. It really isn’t. There are people out there and they are more than ready to come forward after what I’ve seen. “
Lindeman said the truck’s design and customizations combine elements that reflect the landscape in which fires occur and also the people involved in its development.
“You have to remember, we have a truck driver, an engineer, firefighters, we have a lot of people (involved),” he said. “Just (looking) at the way we mounted our radios, we mounted them on the roof in trucker style. The other trucks have them low, we went up with ours. “
The truck will be part of a fleet of around seven vehicles, including a Polaris Ranger utility vehicle, which has a track system instead of wheels that will be used by the department to come in front of forest fires to slow the progression of the fire and also provide medical rescues in places where which are difficult to access with conventional vehicles.
Lindeman said the truck has high ground clearance, winches front and rear in case it gets stuck.
“A lot is rural, it is difficult to get into driveways and the like. I said, “What we could really use is a vehicle that we could take anywhere and hold enough water to hold fires and actually fight them,” said Lindeman.
TEAM WORK AND GRATITUDE
Lindeman said the project has been going on for about two years.
“The whole transaction took some time because it was all donations,” said Lindeman, adding that the project donated money, time, equipment and special skills from a list of people and facilities.
Zoscsak pointed out that the fire brigade serves other communities outside the Stronach community, as it also responds to mutual calls for help.
He said part of the push for the project comes with a sense of family and support that his father-in-law and role in Mason County saw.
“My wife (and) business partner Kari, her father, Big Al Bufka Sr., has been with the Grant Township Fire Department for over 40 years,” he said. “Such a sense of family, support and service when these volunteers have to go on call puts the rest of the family on hold – and that’s fine with everyone. They’re like, ‘Well that’s the duty, you have to go.’ “
Zoscsak said family support is expressed in sacrifice and a sense of community.
“The men and women of the Stronach fire brigade (are) for the safety of our community and their daily sacrifice to do what they do every day, and I think that applies to all fire brigades in the rural communities,” he said. “I hope that the people in the ward will recognize and support their departments and (that they) say ‘thank you’ to the people who are serving out there and putting their lives on hold to help others.”
Zoscsak suggested residents simply express their appreciation orally by buying pizza for their first responders during the monthly departmental meetings or otherwise assisting them.
“You will be the first when something happens and … they will be there for you in the rural communities,” he said.
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