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Recent flooding and wildfire conditions have increased the need for such Oregon-built vehicles.

COURTESY PHOTO: CORE - A CORE Hero vehilcle like those awareded to local first responders in Oregon.

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management has awarded six fire districts across Oregon with new all-terrain vehicles to assist their communities with disaster preparedness and response.

The vehicles are purchased through an Oregon state program called SPIRE, which stands for State Preparedness and Incident Response Equipment. SPIRE funds the purchase and distribution of equipment to be used during an emergency to decrease the risk for loss of life and property damage. SPIRE grant equipment supports state-driven emergency preparedness efforts by allowing for a more efficient response at the local level.

The six vehicles have been delivered or are in the process of being delivered to Aurora Fire District, Cannon Beach Fire District, Eugene Springfield Fire, Evans Valley Fire District #6, Hoodland Fire District #74 and Warrenton Fire Department.

"Applicants must demonstrate a need for the specific equipment and establish how it would significantly improve emergency response capabilities in their communities," said OEM Grants Coordinator Jim Jungling.

COURTESY PHOTO: CORE - Evans Valley Fire District personnel in front of tbeir CORE vehcile.

Oregon-made CORE Hero off-road vehicles

The vehicles chosen for the SPIRE program are produced by Commander Off-Road Equipment (CORE), a division of EarthCruiser, a high-end overland vehicle manufacturer based in Bend, Oregon. The road-legal CORE Hero can access flooded areas, navigate rugged terrain and perform water rescues; they can also serve as brush rigs to fight small grass fires and other types of small, outdoor fires. Recent flooding and wildfire conditions have increased the need for the vehicles.

"We've been working closely with Business Oregon to identify more local and regional companies, like EarthCruiser, that can serve as partners for procurement of the equipment," said Jungling. "While it's not always possible to buy local, we do prioritize it, both to support the economy and to save money on equipment delivery."

The CORE Hero vehicle is based on an Isuzu commercial truck, outfitted with a 6.6-liter V8 engine rated at 350 horsepower and 425 pound-feet of torque. The trucks use a six-speed automatic transmission and a two-speed four-wheel drive system. Both the front and rear differentials lock up electronically, enabling maximum traction in off-road environments. The vehicle is designed for use in wildland firefighting, mobile emergency medical services, and for high-axle water rescue in a disaster scenario.

Warrenton Police Chief Mathew Workman said the CORE Hero will be used to help his community in the case of a tsunami or earthquake. "With any size tsunami, most of our city, including dozens of residential neighborhoods, will be inundated with water. This type of vehicle will allow us to perform rescue operations in those areas," said Workman. "Similarly, during an earthquake, thousands of trees and utility poles will most likely topple and prevent standard-axle vehicles from traversing around town to perform rescue operations, whereas a high-axle vehicle would have a better chance of reaching the impacted areas."

COURTESY PHOTO: CORE - CORE vehicles are produced in Bend, Oregon.

More SPIRE grants available

The Oregon legislature established the SPIRE Grant program in 2017. A total of $5 million was made available in the grant's first round, which awarded 81 pieces of equipment to 79 different awardees. Individual items were required to have a minimum cost of $5,000 and were selected from an approved equipment list. In addition to the CORE Hero vehicles, available equipment included generators, fuel tankers, big-water rescue boats, a low-water rescue boat, rescue jet skis, mass casualty trailers and water purification trailers. While the state purchases the equipment, the agency that receives the equipment is responsible for maintenance, staffing and response. The state retains the option to request use of the equipment elsewhere if an emergency occurs.

The Oregon legislature has funded the SPIRE Grant with $10 million for 2022-2023. The next grant round will be open March 1-June 1 and will include similar equipment to that previously offered, with the addition of urban search and rescue equipment, morgue trailers and solar generators. Qualified applicants include any local government, special government body or private 501(c)(3) organization working in emergency preparedness. More information about SPIRE is available at www.oregon.gov/oem/emresources/Grants/Pages/Spire.aspx.


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