It is a tale as old as time, the budget of a small community not quite being able to match their growing needs. This is such for the growing city of Coolidge, Arizona. Located south of Phoenix, Coolidge is home to the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, the first historic site to receive protected status by the US Government in 1892. A humble community rooted in agriculture, Coolidge was known as the hub of Arizona cotton and farmland can still be seen in almost every direction.
In recent years, some farm fields have become large utility solar projects and various manufacturing facilities. Coolidge is the location for the Inland Port of Arizona, a 2,000-acre shovel ready rail served industrial park and the manufacturing plant of Nikola Motor Company. With industry booming, in 2021 Coolidge issued approximately 700 new single family home permits.
With all of this exciting growth comes growing pains. We spent some time with Coolidge Fire Department to learn more about this small, but mighty, group of 8 paid fire fighters, 12 volunteers and their Chief Mark Dillon. We wanted to see how TOMAR might be able to help their aging fleet during this transition period as they wait for the tax base to catch up to the needs of their infrastructure.
CFD has one active station, manned from 8am-8pm. They respond to calls for service from their homes overnight. The community is pushing for the city to make Station 1 a 24-hour station. The day I visited, city officials had been in earlier looking at options to retrofit the station.
Making something old new again isn’t a new concept for CFD. Firefighter Adam Seils let me know that they have 9 vehicles in their fleet that range from 2022 models to 1996 models. The front-line equipment utilized are either new purchases or refurbished vehicles. “We have an aggressive maintenance program that allows us to keep the vehicles in service longer, so that way we can get the most bang for our buck”. When asked if relighting the older vehicles in their fleet would make them safer until they are retired, CFD said “Any upgrades that you do to a vehicle to make it more visible and safer for firefighters and the community is worth the time and money”. With such competent maintenance capabilities, a great way to make the most out of their budget would be for CFD to relight some of the oldest members of their fleet inhouse by buying direct from TOMAR.
We also discussed how their new TOMAR equipped vehicle has benefited the department, “It has given us that upgraded look and visibility that we need on our vehicles. The options on patterns, colors and the sleek design has proven to be a lighting system we will use in the future. Visibility in an emergency is critical, day or night and is key to patient and first responder safety”, says Seils.
As Firefighter Seils showed me around their fleet, their pre 9/11 ladder stood out. It isn’t scheduled to retire for another couple years and is in amazing condition. When he fired it up, the very dated Zone A light bars stood out as something that could be easily upgraded. TOMAR’s Scorpion light bar would add impactful and important warning lights in an affordable way, increasing the safety of the apparatus. On their rural calls for service, scene lights are hugely helpful. Our Aspire pole light added to a rig could easily give their fleet some major scene illumination power. We also discussed the benefit of adding traffic directors to vehicles that are not currently equipped with them.
It was wonderful spending time with Firefighter Seils and the rest of the crew at Station 1. It was great discussing their needs and budgetary issues and brainstorming ways to make their fleet safer while maintaining the bottom line. It felt like I was extreme couponing and I loved it! TOMAR is easily installed and serviceable, making it perfect for smaller departments trying to get the most bang for their buck and life out of their fleet. We want to do our part to keep first responders and the communities they serve safe. We are here to help you update your fleet, from a full relight design to a few impactful upgrades. Thank you to Coolidge Fire Department for having me out. We are proud to be a part of your fleet.