When an old Darby Military Community truck recently reached 34 years of service – that could have been its end.
Instead, thanks to some innovative handiwork, it’s got a new life supporting Camp Darby’s Fire and Emergency Services to combat the threat of wildfires. Once used by the Directorate of Public Works to haul construction material, the 1985 Mercedes UNIMOG 1000, it’s now ready to support firefighters in rough terrain.
“It’s a great asset for our fire department given the large expanse of forested areas on Darby and how dry the summers are here in Tuscany,” said Robert Chartier, Deputy Garrison Manager.
The fire truck will come in handy around the ammunition storage area, a forested terrain. In the past, Darby firefighters only had a small all-terrain vehicle with limited water and offensive firefighting capabilities in that area, said Chief Bryant Benitez.
The restored UNIMOG improves response by providing more water capabilities, including a front water turret, which allows for a more offensive approach if needed, Benitez said.
“The vehicle also allows emergency responders to handle any off road areas if needed,” Benitez said, adding that firefighters must now train to use the restored truck.
Recently, workers at the Installation Materiel Maintenance Activity, Logistics Readiness Center Vicenza, 405th Army Field Support Brigade restored the vehicle. The body was poor, but the chassis was excellent. Workers’ commitment, passion and creativeness brought the truck back to life, making it useful again.
Restoring the truck took about five months, said Luca Gianello, who worked closely on the project. The $8,000 renovation included replacing all hydraulic and air lines, removing rust and applying corrosion control, wiring harness and brakes, replacing rubber (tires, seals, gaskets) the cargo bed, and subcomponents.
“As a team we were very excited because, knowing our professionalism and technical potential, we knew we would have been able to accomplish this task, though it was very challenging,” Gianello said. “As we concluded the restoration, we were all extremely satisfied of the results.” This incentive was a perfect example of multiple organizations coming together to solve a long-standing problem, said Jeff Hawkins, U.S. Army Garrison Italy's Fire Chief.
"DPW, Fire & Emergency Services, and the LRC gathered together to take a vehicle that was doomed and executed a revitalization plan to transform this vehicle into a critical element of the garrison wildland firefighting mission," said Hawkins, adding that this efforts saved the Army thousands of dollars and greatly improves wildland firefighting.
"The vehicle maintenance section of LRC are the true heroes for this project for the time, effort and precision to bring this beast back to life," Hawkins said.