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Malta's 'urban vehicle' handles rural situations

The Malta Ridge Volunteer Fire Company completed a mission years in the making with the purchase of an Urban Wildland Interface Vehicle, a specialized vehicle that is smaller and lighter than firetrucks, which makes it easier to access and navigate the oftentimes narrow backroads in the town.

This new vehicle will enable us to effectively reach areas we weren't able to with our larger engine ladder and tanker vehicles, said MRVFC Chief Pete Shaw. "We made a smart investment by purchasing a stock model from a local vendor for approximately 60 percent less than the cost of a typical full size fire engine. This not only saves us a significant amount of money, but also reduces the wear and tear on our larger equipment."

Shaw said the fire company has wanted a vehicle like this for many years now and just recently was able to write it into this year's budget, which sees funding from the Town of Malta. He said the town requested a master plan and feasbility study to review and analyze what the town's fire resources were, and after submitting that, the town determined that an Urban Wildland Interface Vehicle was a useful investment.

Shaw said the vehicle is theirs and ready to use already, but just like any other vehicle, will take some time to pay off.

"We've already used the vehicle on several calls one was an accident that required Jaws of Life extraction," said Shaw, who said he believes this is one of the first vehicles in Saratoga County.

In addition to being smaller, lighter and costing less to operate than traditional firetrucks or emergency vehicles, this truck makes rescue operations and calls to more rural areas of the town much easier. According to Shaw, the new truck can maneuver over rougher terrain with its four-wheel drive, get down unpaved and narrow roads, pump water directly from Saratoga Lake if there are no fire hydrants nearby, provide quicker response times by way of the Northway and requires less people to operate.

"Community safety and emergency preparation is a top priority, and we're working hard to make sure our fire departments are adequately equipped to handle any call," said Malta Supervisor Paul Sausville in a statement.

The fire company is volunteer-run and operates off membership and works with the town to provide fire protection and other emergency services to residents. It's been around since 1948, when the company had 68 volunteers. It now has about 50 regular volunteers. For information about volunteering visit www.maltaridgefire.com or call 584-6155.""

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