KERN RIVER VALLEY, Calif. (KERO) — “The Mobile Command Vehicle, it sounds exactly like it is," said Bakersfield Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Albertson.
The Mobile Command Vehicle looks like something you’d see in a high stakes action movie, whit computers and monitors lining the walls, flashing lights and buttons, and all of it there to serve a purpose.
That purpose: getting a job done.
“So we have computers in there, internet in there, we have printers in there," Albertson said. "If they need to print out a big map of the fire we have plotters in there.”
The vehicle is designed to allow command leaders during any kind of emergency to efficiently gather and assess information and create an incident plan. It was purchased by BFD in 2013 thanks to a UASI grant and is available to any agency in Kern, like Bakersfield Police, Kern County Fire or the Sheriff's Office.
“It’s something that didn’t cost the citizens a bunch of money yet is a huge asset to the organization and the community,” Albertson said.
In fact, in 2015 — the Sheriff’s Office utilized the vehicle during a nearly 3-week-long manhunt for murder suspect Benjamin Peter Ashley in the Kelso Valley. The vehicle’s technology allowing for swift action, which is exactly what is needed now in the Kern River Valley.
Now the vehicle has been deployed to the French Fire, making this the first time it's been sent to a major wildfire since it's purchase in 2013.
"If they didn’t have this vehicle, they would probably be in something like a tent," Albertson said. "Doing it in there they wouldn’t necessarily have the technology available to them as quickly.”
Bakersfield Fire Engineer Steve Hamblet is charged with helping maintain the vehicle. He helps ensure everything inside is running smoothly — from the vehicles weather monitor, to its generator, and its rooftop camera. He keeps the vehicle running, which in turn keeps everything else moving forward quickly.
“Slows things down if you don’t have that option. Firefighters are still out there fighting the fire. Firefighters are still out there risking their lives, taking risks with maybe not having all the information," said Albertson.