Project Responder, the Ultimate Volunteer Firefighter's Emergency Response Vehicle, is finally ready for action.

September 18, 2004 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
After fourteen years and 250,000 miles, most trucks would be ready for the scrap heap. That's not the case for this truck. Built from the ground up in a small shop in rural Missouri, the owner and other volunteers have completely transformed a 1987 Ford F-250 into something most big fire departments would love to have. The truck was completely disassembled down to the frame, from there very little of the original truck remains. What you see now is completely custom and one of a kind. The goal of this undertaking was to completely renovate and transform a standard Ford truck into a show vehicle that will be equipped for nearly any emergency to which a volunteer firefighter might be called upon to respond. The idea was the brainchild of the owner of OTB Ventures, Michael Netherton. It was his many years of service as a volunteer firefighter and his love of Ford trucks which was the catalyst for this project. According to Michael, "I have always wanted to find a way to bring together my interests of monster trucks, fire trucks and my favorite truck brand, Ford'. Project Responder will ultimately be a truck that will not only take ribbons at shows, but that can go almost anywhere and be prepared for nearly any emergency. According to Michael, "there will be plenty of polished aluminum and flashing lights, but there will also be power to pull a semi and enough gear to outfit a small fire department. This truck will be the ultimate firefighter's response vehicle.'

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The project began with a 1987 Ford Heavy Duty Supercab 4x4 that has seen the highways from Edmunston, Canada and Caribou, Maine down south as far as San Antonio, Texas. Other than a 4' lift kit, dual batteries, bigger alternator and tires, the truck was completely stock including the 351 Windsor High Output (5.8L) motor under the hood. The service records for the truck show no major service issues other than a few minor warranty repairs over the years during the 100,000 mile warranty period. The key to the truck's long life has been changing the oil and performing regular maintenance as recommended by the manufacturer throughout the years. The body of the truck has seen the most wear and tear. Several of the cab's floor seams had separated under the cab where the floor and sides of the cab are joined. This caused the floor to buckle under the weight of the cab, creating a large split in the driver's side floor from the pedals, halfway to the seat. It posed some problems, but nothing the team couldn't handle.

To complete this project, the front clip, cab and bed were removed. The front clip and the cab were transported to a local body shop to be repaired and repainted. The bed was sold and was replaced with a new high tech service body. While the entire top of the truck was off of the frame, the engine, transmission and transfer case were removed. Everything else was stripped of the frame and it was sand blasted and painted with an extremely durable urethane finish. This included the axles, springs and other suspension components. One of the goals of this project was to increase the horsepower under the hood. With the chassis sporting a high gloss finish, a custom built 460 motor was set between the frame rails and mated to a freshly rebuilt C6 automatic and a new electric shift transfer case. Once the power plant and drive train were in place, the refinished cab and front clip were reinstalled as well as the installation of a the new service body. After the body was back in place, work began to add the special effects and accessories.

Of course every emergency vehicle needs lights and sirens and Project Responder is no exception. . With the help of several project sponsors, the truck has been outfitted with a host of emergency lighting solutions. This includes a custom made lightbar which was mounted behind the cab; red, white and blue strobes and LED's covering every visible angle of the truck. One of the jewels of the project was the installation of a Federal Signal model Q2B mechanical fire truck siren on the front bumper along with four, one hundred watt speakers and two air horns. "I want to make sure this truck is heard as well as seen' said Michael during his interview, "this is going to be one heck of a light and sound show once she's complete.'

What good is a fire truck without water? Project Responder has that covered with a wildland firefighting skid unit from RKO Enterprises which comes with a 150 gallon water tank, a 9hp twin impeller pump and 75 feet of hose. The skid unit is self contained and bolts right into the bed of the truck. The service body will be stuffed with other firefighting, rescue and vehicle extrication tools.

The last step is the application of the graphics on the truck as well as the logo's of all of the sponsors that have helped make this truck so special. Soon, Project Responder will be attending various four wheel drive, custom truck and firefighting shows and events around the country. To learn more about this one of a kind truck, where it will be showing or how you can help with the project, you can visit the Project Responder website (