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By brother and I with E-2931 on the Tungston Fire.

      The Winnemucca BLM District is unique from most other BLM districts due to the fact that Mercedes Benz Unimogs are still a part of the engine fleet. Currently, there are three Unimogs on the district (1993 Model 2450 shown above and below and two 1995 Model U-140's). Each of the first five years that I worked in Winnemucca I was on a Unimog and loved them. From 1998-1999 I was the Engine Crew Leader of 2931, the Model 2450. The 1999 season was my fourth year in a row on this engine. During my first season in 1995 I was a crewmember and learned to operate a 1984 Model 1200.

     What makes the Unimog so special is that they are fitted with a hydraulic blade as seen in the pictures. This blade gives operators the option of dozing a fuel break through the mainly light flashy fuels that are found in Northern Nevada, in addition to direct wetline attack (E-2931 also holds 750 gallons of water and is equipped with a 300 gpm pump, the U-140's hold 250 gallons). Unimogs have the ability to go places other heavy engines can not go partly because they are equipped with Central Tire Inflation (CTI). This allows the operator to lower the tire pressure of each axle from the cab of the vehicle. Lowering tire pressure gives the Unimog more traction by increasing tire surface area. The CTI, along with incredibly low gearing and a powerful diesel engine, give the Unimog special advantages that make it a very valuable tool for fighting wildland fires in the mountains and valleys of the Great Basin. 

      Most people have a bad impression about Unimogs because of the fact that they are high maintenance machines.  You have to understand that these vehicles are put through a lot more stress and torque than a regular engine.  They are used in the same capacity as a dozer on most Great Basin fires, and to climb slopes that regular engines would not even come close too.  The Unimog was designed as a type of "high performance tractor" for European farmers.  It really wasn't designed to take the type of abuse that they are put through on wildland fires, especially when it comes to cutting line in rocky soils.  The front mounted blade was designed for plowing snow and pushing loose dirt around.  But, with proper maintenance, every day, these vehicles are a proven and well used tools for the Winnemucca BLM.  The picture below is a perfect example of why the Unimog is a perfect engine for Great Basin fires, especially cheat grass fires.  For more pictures of the Unimogs go to my Pictures.

Unimog 2931 cutting line on the Spaulding Fire about 20 miles south of Winnemucca in 1996.

Want to see some pictures of Mawg the Dog, named after my old Unimog?

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