The Blankenship Fire District covers a huge area, from the small community of Blankenship along the North and Middle Forks of the Flathead River, 50 miles north to the Canada border.
Now the fire department has a new 2019 type 5 engine that it recently purchased to better serve the community, with no additional property tax mills.
Blankenship Fire Chief Ed Burlingame said the district used $53,000 from district capital improvement funds, a grant for $7,000 from the Flathead 911 Foundation, a grant for $5,000 from the Flathead County Fire Service Area and $800 from the Department of Agriculture Volunteer Fire Assistance grant program. Response Equipment Service, a local company who completed the work and warning light package took the district’s older engine in trade for $9,500. The remainder of the funding, $45,000 was derived from a 10-year low interest loan made available through the Montana InterCap Loan program.
The 2019 engine cost $120,000 and will be the force’s main engine in a district that has narrow roads, narrow driveways and plenty of ice and snow.
It’s a Ford F550 Type Wildfire Engine with a four wheel drive chassis. It’s powered by a 6.7-liter diesel engine and employs a six-speed automatic transmission. To enable the carrying of a full crew safely, the engine has a four door cab with seating for up to five firefighters. The firefighting body consists of a 10-foot Highway Products flatbed on which is mounted a Cascade Fire Equipment Co. fire package. That package employs a 400 gallon water tank and integral 10 gallon Class A foam tank. The water and foam tanks supply a Kubota three-cylinder diesel engine which drives a 145 gallon per minute pump. The vehicle will handle approximately 80 percent of the district’s calls.