Ford’s Customized Bronco SUV Could be a Game-Changer for Future Firefighters

bronco wildfire

In 2022, Bandalier National Monument, a 33,000-acre wilderness area with native land and sacred sites, had a close due to fires. Now that fire season is starting again, Ford intends to help prevent further destruction with a new customized Ford Bronco donation.

Partnering with Darley Co., Ford has created a Bronco Wildland SUV and donated it to help emergency wildfire crews in New Mexico.

What’s different about this SUV, how can a single vehicle actually change the way people fight fires, and could we see more than one model coming from a Ford Dealer soon?

Ford and Darley Come Together to Make a Whole New Bronco

The Ford Bronco Wildland SUV is actually a tricked-out version of the Bronco Badlands with a Sasquatch off-road package that gives it 35-inch off-road tires, a grille guard, an electric winch, and a light bar, search and emergency lights, and a siren on the roof.

Additional specialized technology comes from W.S. Darley Co. – a fire rescue vehicle manufacturer in Illinois.

This new technology has made the Wildland into a mobile command center for firefighters.

Darley’s Technology Additions and What They Can Do in Emergencies

Kevin Sofen, director of innovation at Darley, said that they transformed the Bronco into “a portable connectivity hub” for emergency responders working in the field.

Darley Co. added a drone with livestream capabilities connecting to screens in the Bronco, a tablet computer for emergency operations management, a state-of-the-art communications system with satellite and antennae connections, and special software for aerial reconnaissance and detection.

These additions make it easier for firefighters and rescue teams to stay in contact without cellphone service and observe the area safely during fire emergencies. The Bronco itself gives more physical protection to responders during disasters.

How This Can Change Wildland Firefighting in America

Patrick Suddath, superintendent of Bandelier National Monument, said that the conditions surrounding fires have changed a lot in the last few decades.

“Warmer temperatures and stronger winds have resulted in bigger fires that are harder to predict and manage. These more resource-intensive fires have a real impact on Bandelier’s firefighting corps,” he said.

Sofen believed changes to firefighting equipment needed to be made to combat this: “We realized you can’t just only beat wildland fires with fire trucks…That’s when we started to look at how can we empower the commanders and different tactical operators.”

By creating a vehicle that acts both as transport and communication center, firefighters can coordinate better at the scene of a fire and use technology that might have otherwise been unavailable to them.

This will make dealing with fire season much easier, but with only one vehicle, how much will change?

More Plans from Darley and Ford for the Future of Firefighting

Luckily, the Ford Bronco Wildland SUV isn’t going to be the only customized firefighting vehicle for long!

Ford and Darely are working on a second vehicle as we speak that will be donated to the National Park Services when complete. It’s just a matter of time before we see more models taken from Ford dealer locations to fire rescue centers.

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