by Rob Malcolm


OAKDALE (CBS13) — As fires rage across California, a family-run business in Oakdale is quietly helping battle the flames in a unique way.

High Tech Emergency Vehicle Services has been meeting California’s fire needs since 1987, building all different types of fire apparatuses including type six’s, type 3’s and type 1 pumpers. Brian Ruthman, Vice President of the company, says they make about 25 rigs a year.

They build for South San Francisco, Santa Maria, San Jose, Santa Barbara, Geyserville and Truckee. Ruthman and his staff of 50 are trying to meet demands.

“We’ve got a backlog that’s pretty substantial right now, so we’re trying to work that down and get more fire apparatus out there to the firefighters,” Ruthman said.

Most of their trucks are customized, so the fire departments give input.

“We sit down with the firefighters and go over their exact build that they want to meet their needs,” Ruthman said.

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A lot goes into making sure the rigs not only look good but work.

“We have a lot of different facets from electrical, plumbing, steel fabrication, painting, it’s quite a lengthy process to build a fire apparatus,” Ruthman said.

On average, it takes 1,800 hours to complete a big-rig, but during the fire season, they can’t deliver them fast enough.

“We’re going to deliver a type 3 to Ross Valley. They were supposed to come this week, but due to the fires, they’re all out on the fires right now,” Ruthman said.

They’re also sending an apparatus to Sonoma County this week.

“We do have Geyserville that’s going to go later this week. I think we have some striping to put on it and it’s pretty much wrapped up, ready for delivery,” Ruthman said.

There’s high demand for High Tech Services.

“We’ve been really busy, we need to expand. We’re thinking about putting in a new shop, maybe doubling our size,” Ruthman said.

One of the biggest challenges the company now faces is finding qualified workers in California.

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