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St. Augustine Fire Department Receives Grant for New ATV

The St. Augustine Fire Department will be getting a new all-terrain emergency services vehicle later this year.

The fire department announced the all-terrain vehicle will be provided through a grant from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation and will cover the full cost of $31,595.39.

The non-profit foundation donates equipment and resources to first responders and public safety organizations. It has awarded more than $4 million dollars to departments and organizations in Florida since 2005,  according to their website.

The ATV will be a Polaris Ranger XP model, and when fully outfitted will have emergency medical services and firefighting capabilities. It will be able to tackle small fires and will be used to reach individuals needing medical assistance in large crowds, which is something Fire Chief Carlos Aviles said has become a need in St. Augustine.

“In this day and age with as many events as we’re doing downtown the ability to be mobile, quick, and get people out of those congested areas quickly matters,” he said.

In a vulnerability assessment, Aviles said the department has a very difficult time getting people out of large crowds. The ATV will be vital for accessing medical emergencies when where there is a large influx of people or a large standing crowd.

“The engines and the rescuers just can’t get to large crowds of people without large delays,” Aviles said. The addition will allow the department to keep a traditional rescue unit near a crowd while the ATV evacuates the person. The ATV will also be used to reach places that a fire truck typically cannot access, including parking garages, small streets, and sidewalks to bypass gridlocked traffic.

The ATV will be useful for events the city hosts such as Fourth of July festivities, Nights of Lights, parades and other special events.

For the past four years the department has had to borrow ATV’s from other departments for large events, according to Chief Aviles. The loaned vehicles were used to respond to multiple calls of emergency medical situations for last year’s Fourth of July celebrations.

Through partnerships with agencies throughout the county, including St. Johns County Fire Rescue, the department has been able to borrow ATVs for large events, but that hasn’t always secured the vehicle for the city.

“For the last several years when we’ve had these types of events we’re already using the product. We’re using somebody else’s so if they’re having a large event going on we don’t have access to it,” Aviles said. The department plans to make the ATV available to other departments around the county for large events as well.

The current estimated delivery date of the Polaris is late spring.

Gabrielle Garay can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org, 904-358-6317.

Gabrielle Garay is a WJCT News intern for spring 2018.