A Special Presentation
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By Britton Crosby
January 2001
(Updated March 23, 2010)


Page 16


The Last County Brush Breaker
West Barnstable got this brush breaker in 1982 to replace its 1958 County Breaker.
It has a 1967 International military chassis and bar work by Ted Young.
This breaker with its 1000 gallon tank was the last of the County breakers.

West Barnstable Breaker 295 in June 2002.

Falmouth Breaker 30 - 1982 Ford Farrar brush breaker.

This 1982 Ford breaker is owned by Falmouth Fire Department. B-16 was called Breaker 30
when delivered by Farrar with its 750 gallon tank.

Falmouth Breaker 16
with new paint job in 2008


Middleborough's 1984 International / Maxim Brush Breaker.

Middleborough Fire Department's Forest Fire 1 is a 1984 International /
Maxim brush breaker that was refurbished in  1997 by V-Tech.
It now has (2) 500 gpm pumps and carries 800 gallons.

Middleborough Fire Department's Forest Fire 1 Nov 2005 photos

Bourne Fire Department Breaker 9 (129) was put in service
in 1986.  It had a 1952 Reo chassis and was built locally.
It had a 600 gallon tank and was assigned to Monument Beach.


Command post and rehab area at Otis during 1986 fire.

No fewer than seven breakers stage at sunrise at this Massachusetts Military Reservation (Otis) the morning after
a 2500 acres fire in anticipation of flare-ups. Breakers pictured include: Bourne B130, State B6 and B5, Mashpee B354,
West Barnstable B295, COMM B316, and Sandwich B142.

The view from behind the wheel of COMM FD's Breaker 316 following State Breaker 5 during wet down
of hot spots at Otis on April 1, 1986

The burned area from the 1986 fire.
The fire began in the impact area near the top and raced south
jumping several fire roads over the course of just a couple hours.

Brush Breakers are designed to make their own path when necessary.
Smaller trees up to several inches in diameter are no match for the large breakers.
Trees as large as a foot in diameter can be taken down if there is no way around them.
Occasionally root balls can cause a breaker's wheels to lose traction. Most breakers
are equipped with chain saws and powerful winches to free themselves from being hung up.
The damage done to the woods by breakers is, in most cases, less than that which a fire
will do if left to burn wild. The type of Terrain, rocks, rivers and wetlands, fire fuel levels, and
other factors dictate appropriate use of this technique.


Large forest fires can be very destructive and dangerous. This photo taken from the Fire Patrol Plane
during the "Pave Paws Fire" of April 22, 1988 shows the flames reaching 60'-100' in the air and
the thick smoke produced by the fire.

The "Pave Paws" military radar site in the northern part of the Massachusetts Military Reservation (Otis)
is seen at the right in this photo. This fire burned intensely towards this vital military installation.
The clearing around the facility prevented any damage. The fire however, continued to burn past the
facility consuming over 2000 acres within a couple hours.

Side fire burns slowly towards the powerlines. Should a wind shift occur, this flank would become the headfire and
endanger anyone in front of it.

About a dozen fire apparatus, breakers and tankers, are staged on the power lines to prevent the fire from jumping this fire break.
If the fire direction and intensity were to change, , the fire could easily jump the 100-150 foot wide fire break.
Fortunately, it did not.

Bourne and Otis breakers extinguishing hot spots in the burn.

When side fire turns to head fire smoke darkens and thickens.

Pave Paws Fire April 22, 1988
Gibbs Road / Power Lines

Pave Paws Fire April 22, 1988

Pave Paws Fire April 22, 1988

Pave Paws Fire April 22, 1988

Pave Paws Fire April 22, 1988

Pave Paws Fire April 22, 1988

Pave Paws Fire April 22, 1988

Pave Paws Fire April 22, 1988

Pave Paws Fire April 22, 1988

Pave Paws Fire April 22, 1988

Pave Paws Fire April 22, 1988

Sandwich Breaker 442 operates from the safety of a service road within the impact area at Otis.

This fire in the Otis area easily jumped this narrow fire road before being contained. Placing personnel and
apparatus in front of such a fire is dangerous. The safest attack is to come in from behind the fire and
work on extinguishing side fire until the headfire can be reached and knocked down. This takes a
coordinated effort and air communications make a big difference. Wood Road fire April 19, 1986.

Conditions on the back of brush breakers during firefighting can be pretty nasty.
Heat, smoke, dust, briars, fallen trees, and a host of other hazards from the rough ride make
this a dangerous, yet memorable experience for firefighters.


Duxbury Breaker 47 - 1988 International / Maxim
800 gpm / 765 gallon brush breaker. 

Duxbury breaker 47 - 1988 International / Maxim


Duxbury Breaker 48 is a 1988 International 4900 / Maxim
800 gpm / 765 gallon brush breaker.

Duxbury Breaker 48

West Barnstable's Patrol 290 is a 1989 Chevy 2500 Pickup Truck with a 170 gallon skid tank.







More Pages of Brush Breakers

Page 1 - 1920s - 1930s - First Brush Breaker
Page 2 - 1920s - 1930s - Forest Fires / Memorial
Page 3 - 1920s - 1930s - Fire Towers / Patrol Plane
Page 4 - 1930s - Early Brush Trucks / Breakers
Page 5 - 1930s - 1950s - First County Brush Breakers  
Page 6 - 1940s - 1950 - Early Brush Breakers
Page 7 - 1950s - Second Generation Brush Breaker
Page 8 - 1950s - Brush Trucks
Page 9 - 1950s - 1960s - Second County Brush Breakers
Page 10 - 1950s - 1970s - Breakers and Patrol Trucks
Page 11 - 1960s - Brush Trucks and Fires 
Page 12 - 1960s - Fires and Brush Breakers
Page 13 - 1960s - 1970s - Third Generation Breaker
Page 14 - 1970s - County & Town Brush Breakers
Page 15 - 1970s - 1980s - Brush Breakers & Tankers
Page 16 - 1980s - Breakers & Fires
Page 17 - 1990s - Brush and Forestry Trucks
Page 18 - 1990s - Brush and Forestry Trucks
Page 19 - 1990s - State Forest Fire Apparatus
Page 20 - 1990s - 2000s - Brush Breakers
Page 21 - 2000s - Breakers and Tankers
Page 22 - 2000s - Brush Breakers & Tankers
Page 23 - 2000s - Newest Breakers
Page 24 - 2000s - 2005 Brush Season
Page 25 - 2000s - 2006 Brush Breakers
Page 26 - 2000s - 2007 Brush Breaker Training
Page 27 - 2000s - 2008 Tankers & Forestry Units
Page 28 - 2000s - 2009 Breakers
Page 29 - 2010s - 2010 Brush & Forestry Units


Related Links

Massachusetts DCR - Bureau of Forest Fire Control
Forest Fire Lookout Association
History Early Fire Towers
Massachusetts Fire Tower Locations - Plymouth Brush Breaker Drill April 2006 - Plymouth-Wareham Brush Fires May 2006 - Sandwich Fire Tower 2006

Photos in this series are from various sources
including fire department and personal collections.