via Ford

Ford has a history of creating, commissioning, or enabling others to build special-use vehicles of all types. Most of us are probably familiar with the many Ford police cars that patrol our cities, but it’s also built quite a few other cars with jobs; such as ambulances, fire trucks, and other patrol vehicles with specific purposes. This new build from the Bronco team is no exception.

Meet the Ford Bronco Wildland Firefighting Command Rig. That’s a mouthful, but its name couldn’t convey the truck’s purpose more clearly. This rig is the automaker’s newest purpose-built truck, and it’s being donated to the National Park Service to help battle wildfires in some of the most remote areas of our national parks.

Ford trusted Maryland-based defense manufacturer, Darley, in building this particular example. Darley has a rich history in building custom firefighting vehicles on Ford chassis. In fact, its founder, W.S. Darley, has ties directly to Henry Ford and the Model T. Fast forward over a century, and the Darley company not only has experience in building firefighting trucks but also vehicles and equipment to be used in the wildlands.

A four-door Bronco was selected as the base for this build. Because this was meant to be a truly go-anywhere truck, Darley slapped a set of beadlock wheels with 35-inch off-road tires. Also added is a Warn winch, roof rack, light bar, plus emergency lights and sirens. The rear of the truck was also fitted with a Truckvault pull-out secure storage system for easy organization and extra workspace.

Now, don’t get this truck confused with the Filson Wildland Fire Rig concept that Ford built a few years ago. That particular custom truck was built to put out small fires in very remote locations—this one is more like an assistant.

Ford enthusiast brand manager Dave Rivers calls this truck a “mountain goat,” inevitably a play on the truck’s terrain management system, which is branded as having G.O.A.T. (“Goes Over Any Type [of terrain]”) modes. But that also describes what Ford intends the truck to help out with. More specifically, it’s meant to assist firefighters by getting rangers to remote areas where they can help those on the ground putting out the fires when every second counts.

The key to building any command rig is communication, and that means this Bronco is packed full of tech.

For starters, it has a “state-of-the-art government communication system” that uses not only reliable radio-based comms but also has satellite and cellular radios built-in. These systems lean on both reliability and redundancy in order to make sure that firefighters and other officials can communicate even in the toughest scenarios at the remote-most locations.

The truck has also been outfitted with a Parrot ANAFI Gov Edition drone. This particular aircraft not only provide 32x stabilized zoom to give responders close-up shots of dangerous scenarios using the large integrated screen found on its controller but also offers thermal imagery to spot heat signatures up to 1.2 miles away. This can be useful in locating small wildfire flare-ups or even people lost in the wilderness.

This Bronco will now live out its days serving the Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico. Bandelier covers roughly 50 square miles and is comprised of approximately two-thirds wilderness—meaning it has no infrastructure and isn’t easily traversable by traditional means. It also has a history of naturally occurring wildfires, which, coupled with its rough and wild terrain, is exactly what the Bronco Wildland Firefighting Command Rig was commissioned to take on.

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