Back in August of 2009 we were contacted by the National Park Service. Willie Adams, who manages the southeast region of the Fire and Aviation Operations department, came to us looking for a vehicle that could handle the abuse of fighting fires in most remote areas of the Florida Everglades. He needed something for the firefighters that would be capable of getting through the deep swamps, perform flawlessly, and still be dependable and easy to maintain. Not to mention it had to carry all the necessary fire equipment. It would be used primarily for prescribed burns, but would also see action fighting woods fires.
When we met Willie he was familiar with the previous vehicles that have rolled out of the BTF shop, so he had but a few basic requirements. First, he wanted about 66” under the seats, in order to clear the deep waters of the Everglades. He also specified that it must be powered by an LS1 V8, and had the biggest tires possible, but the rest was up to us. So in January of this year we began work on the project.
The vehicle was designed by Jey Clegg, and James Schofield. The primary focus was to build it so that everything was easily accessible for maintenance. We chose a TurnKey LS1 to go in this vehicle, pushing out 410HP. The transmission is a TH350, and an Atlas II 3.0 transfer case. A custom BTF four-link suspension design was chosen using BTF's Rockwell four-link brackets. The fourlink incorporates Fox 3.0 coilovers at all four corners. The upper links are made from 2” .250 DOM, and the lowers are 2.5” .500 DOM with rebuildable FlexJoint rod ends all around.
For this build we looked into 54” Interco Boggers, but due to the narrow width of the tire we chose the 49” Irok due to its 21” width for better floatation in the muddy swamps. In order to turn these massive tires Rockwells were the obvious choice. We had Ouverson Engineering build our rocks with their 2” Violator shafts, Super8 8-lug disc brake conversion, and a Detroit locker in the front, Spool in the rear. The 1410 driveshafts were made for us by Longview Driveshaft in Texas.