BLM donates wildland firefighting engine to Milford Volunteer Fire Department

BLM Fire Management Officer Grant Gifford, second from left, hands keys to a wildland fire engine to Ryan Erwin, chief of the Milford, Calif. Volunteer Fire Department.  Looking on are Emily Ryan, right, BLM’s Eagle Lake field office manager, and Shawn Compton, the U. S. Department of the Interior’s deputy operations coordinator from the Northern California Operations Center in Redding.

The Bureau of Land Management announces the transfer of a wildland firefighting engine to the Milford Volunteer Fire Department to support the local response to wildfire in Lassen County. Milford Fire Chief Ryan Erwin received the keys to the engine from BLM Fire Management Officer Grant Gifford at a small ceremony in Susanville.

BLM Eagle Lake Field Office Manager Emily Ryan said the engine transfer benefits the rural department and the BLM, which relies on support from local fire departments when battling wildfires threatening natural resources and communities. Partnerships are crucial to suppression activities. Wildfires often cross jurisdictional boundaries and it is important that neighboring agencies have proper equipment to provide support for suppression efforts.

“With the potential for fast-moving wildfires in Lassen County, it is imperative that all fire departments, local, state and federal, support one another,” Ryan said. “This fire engine will improve the Milford department’s response and ability to support other agencies in fire suppression. We are happy to be able to provide this vital piece of equipment.”

The fire engine was made available to the Milford volunteers under the BLM’s Rural Fire Readiness Program, which provides equipment to qualifying departments that cooperate with the BLM and assist with fire response on public lands. Under the program, the BLM accepts applications from local fire departments for available equipment and engines as they are replaced. Prior to the transfer, mechanics will inspect the trucks and make repairs (if needed), so they are fully operational and fire ready.

“We are fortunate to have numerous rural fire departments, including Milford, supporting us in fire suppression and fuels management responsibilities on public lands,” said Gifford. “The ability for us to donate this type of equipment is just one small way that we continue to foster excellent relationships with our local cooperators.”

The engine being transferred to the Milford volunteers is a 2006 crew cab unit. It is a high clearance, four- wheel-drive truck that can handle difficult off-road terrain. It can draft and pump water from sources such as lakes, ponds and streams, or pump water from its 620-gallon tank, even while moving, making it ideal for attacking fires quickly, while they are still small.

The engine was based at the BLM Ravendale Fire Station for 15 years and was dispatched to fires across the West and throughout the state of California, working closely with local, state and federal fire departments. It was one of the first engines to respond to the Sheep Fire that threatened Susanville in the summer of 2020 and fought the Dixie Fire and Beckworth Complex in the 2021 fire season. It responded as an initial attack engine on hundreds of lightning-caused fires across the northeast California region during its years in federal service.