We’ve all seen plenty of Ford Broncos — but none that looked quite as cool as this one.
The automaker has designed a special edition of its popular SUV specifically to fight wildfires, and it might be the coolest ride since the Ghostbusters refitted their iconic Cadillac ambulance.
More importantly, the vehicle is a donation to the hardworking firefighters of New Mexico’s Bandelier National Monument, an Indigenous site just west of Santa Fe.
New Mexico, like much of the Western U.S., faces increasingly dangerous wildfires each year. Now it’s getting some help to protect the park. Through Ford’s charitable foundation, the Bronco Wild Fund, the company donated the Bronco Badlands SUV, which will be used as a firefighting command vehicle.
“The Bronco wildland firefighting command rig is like the ultimate communications hub,” said Dave Rivers, Ford Enthusiast Brand Manager. “It’s a four-door mountain goat made to carry firefighting rangers so they can quickly coordinate where emergency units need to be.”
Protecting Indigenous History
It might be the perfect vehicle to protect the 33,000-acre Bandelier National Monument, with its cliff dwellings and petroglyphs dating back at least 11,000 years. Two-thirds of the park is designated wilderness, making it difficult to access. As the park faces a longer, more intense wildfire season, the Bronco wildland firefighting command rig will enhance Bandelier’s existing fire fleet.
“Over the last 20 years, warmer temperatures and stronger winds have resulted in bigger fires that are harder to predict and manage,” Patrick Suddath, Superintendent of Bandelier National Monument, said.
“These more resource-intensive fires have a real impact on Bandelier’s firefighting corps, and this donation will help us manage fires better. It will also help to minimize impact to the park’s affiliated tribes, who have traditionally used park land for cultural, economic, and spiritual reasons.”
Ford’s Bronco Badlands SUV
This Bronco is the first of two that are being developed by Darley, a global manufacturer of equipment for the armed forces and first responders.
Darley outfitted the Badlands SUV with an array of equipment to find and manage active fires, as well as communicating real-time updates on fires’ locations and severity.
To do that, the specialized Bronco has a state-of-the-art government communication system. That includes a drone connected to a live feed inside the vehicle, and a tablet computer with software for aerial reconnaissance. The technology will empower firefighters to establish a real-time backcountry command and control position with the crews during emergency operations.
Other hardware includes a grille guard, a factory-installed Warn winch, a set of beadlock wheels, and a roof rack fitted with a light bar, search and emergency lights, and siren.
“For more than a century Ford has supported fire response and disaster relief efforts by deploying vehicles to provide emergency transportation and power and deliver essential goods,” Rivers said. “We’re excited to donate the Bronco wildland firefighting command rig to Bandelier to help protect this National Monument for generations to come.”
The Bronco will be officially provided to the National Park Service at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Bandelier National Monument on June 28.