Occidental Fire adds bulldozer to its fleet

By Camille Escovedo, Staff Writer, , September 22, 2021

bulldozer

The Occidental Fire Department purchased a bulldozer and a transport truck from CalFire, shown parked outside the station Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 21, 2021 in Occidental. Photo Camille Escovedo

The Occidental Fire Department is proud to present its very own bulldozer and transport truck, purchased from CalFire to readily provide that resource in west county during an era of astounding fire activity.

Fire Chief Ron Lunardi said that Occidental Fire is the first district with its own bulldozer in Sonoma County, to his knowledge. The two closest bulldozers belong to CalFire, located in Healdsburg and Glen Ellen, and now west county has access to that power with a quicker response time, Lunardi said.

The bulldozer isn’t a shiny new toy anyone particularly wants to use anytime soon, but it’s ready and available for service in the event of a wildland fire.

“If you’re going to build containment lines, they’ve got to be put in by hand with a crew or they could be put in by bulldozers,” Lunardi said. “They’re used to open up roads, build containment lines and, also, what we’re hoping is that we would be used for vegetation management projects.”

Despite the Kincade, Walbridge and Glass fires, the risk of fires remains too real in west county for comfort, Lunardi said, acknowledging that locals have stepped up to adapt and establish defensible space around their homes.

In light of the increased fire activity in the past five years, it’s good to have a local bulldozer in the county when CalFire and local equipment get drawn out to fight fires outside the county, he said. The cost of the state-used dozer, the truck that hauls it and then rigging up its communication system amounts to roughly $100,000.

“As Occidental Fire, we wanted to make a contribution to this effort. The last five years have been incredible — the amount of fires, the amount of local fires and the amount of acreage burned,” Lunardi said. “We felt there would be a need for additional equipment to help support our fire suppression efforts.”

The fire chief said the public is more than welcome to visit the department and see the bulldozer for themselves.