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Shaver Lake’s New Fire Engine Can Fight Cabin Blazes, Wildfires in Tough Terrain

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The Kenworth vehicle, designated as Engine 260, will be used to fight structural as well as wildland fires. It can hold as much as 4,000 gallons of water. (GV Wire Composite/David Rodriguez)
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Shaver Lake’s newest weapon in battling fires is being celebrated this afternoon in a time-honored firefighter event, the “Push-In” ceremony.

The ceremony dates back to the late 1800s, when fire engines were horse-drawn and firefighters had to push equipment back into the firehouse.

It’s a symbol of firehouse unity, but also will give the volunteer fire department the opportunity to show off its new $400,000 engine with features that will improve the department’s firefighting abilities, Chief Steve McQuillan told GV Wire this week.

The Kenworth vehicle, designated as Engine 260, will be used to fight structural as well as wildland fires, McQuillan said. Unlike most structure response vehicles, E-260 holds 2,000 gallons of water and also carries a portable 2,000-gallon tank that will come in handy in rural neighborhoods without fire hydrants as well as in wildland areas, he said.

The portable tank can be disconnected from the engine, giving firefighters at the scene a source of water while the engine heads off to refill at another location, McQuillan said.

Still to be installed is an EZ Trac hydraulic all-wheel-drive system for improved maneuvering in rough terrain or snowy conditions.

McQuillan said the engine is a prototype that other fire departments are checking out. “My understanding is, this engine has eyes on it,” he said.

Engine Ordered After the Creek Fire

The department, which has 22 volunteers, put in its order for the new engine after the Creek Fire in 2020.

Although the engine’s cost was covered by property assessments through the Fresno County Service Area 31, the department initially was able to draw on money donated to a fund created after the Creek Fire and administered through the Central Valley Community Foundation.

The fund supports the department with its short- and long-term goals, such as the recently purchased six sets of turnout gear and six sets of wildland gear, McQuillan said.

For more information about the fund, go to https://bit.ly/SLVFDFund.

He said the new engine won’t change Shaver Lake’s fire rating, now set at 5. E-260 will replace an older engine that was becoming more and more costly to repair, he said.

Would E-260 have made a difference in fighting the Creek Fire, which broke out near Big Creek on the Labor Day weekend of 2020 and would scorch 379,895 acres, destroy at least 856 buildings, and cost more than $193 million in firefighting efforts?

“I don’t think so. Certain fires are bigger than any of us,” he said.

McQuillan said the fact that no lives were lost in what was then the largest wildfire in California history can be attributed to how quickly residents responded to evacuation orders.

“We didn’t have to worry about the people, we got to focus on the fire,” he said.

The “Push In” ceremony is at 3 p.m. today at the Old Firehouse, 41690 Tollhouse Road in Shaver Lake.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email