Code 3 Associates, a Longmont, Colorado-based animal search and rescue group, uses an incredible Western Star truck as its mobile command center. The Big Animal Rescue Truck, also known as BART, is an important mode of transportation for disaster area relief.
According to Code 3 Associates’ website, the 2009 Western Star 4900 SA has an impressive 515 horsepower Detroit engine, a Double Eagle custom sleeper, and pulls a 1996 Kentucky 53-foot converted moving van. Eric Thompson, Code 3’s Disaster Response Director, added that the front axle is a 14,600 lb heavy duty steer axle. The overall length is 82 feet, with 78,000 lb loaded weight. Talk about heavy hauling!
Inside the Star
Inside the rig, you’ll find accommodations and a week’s worth of supplies for 11 team members, a vet/triage center, up to 800 gallons of fresh water, two generators, and equipment and supplies for the animals in need. The tractor itself contains bunks, a bathroom, shower, sink, refrigerator, microwave, built-in vacuum, and satellite TV so the team can keep an eye on the weather and news.
While speaking to Mike “Goose” West, the truck’s primary driver, we asked why a Star was chosen for the job. West proudly said, “I was told to purchase a truck, so I wanted something special. Western Star makes an awesome product. It was the best truck for what I wanted to do.”
The Western Star 4900 was purchased around 2008. It took about a year to have it customized with the sleeper on it. West was highly involved with the customization and really enjoyed the process. He and Double Eagle went back and forth with pictures until they reached the desired interior finish. West stated, “We learned a lesson from what the previous tractor was missing. Water tanks would freeze, so the new one has built-in heaters, and a larger generator is used to power the tractor and the trailer.”
BART on the Road
Eric Thompson said BART will be making an appearance at the Daytona NASCAR race July 5th & 6th. This will be an opportunity for visitors to check out the inside and see all of BART’s gadgets. Drivers Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman actually drive cars with the large Code 3 Associates logo at least two of their races per year.
Thompson also stated that BART and the Code 3 team were on standby for the Black Forest Fire near Colorado Springs. Thankfully they were recently released from the standby status since the fire is now under control.
BART also hit the road from Colorado to assist with relief in Moore, Oklahoma after the devastating tornado tore through the area in late May. During this time, many local shelters were in need of aid, so BART was there to distribute supplies. While set up at the OK Humane Society in Oklahoma City, BART served as a place where people could reunite with their pets.
Since BART’s debut in 1996, it has traveled to nearly 40 federally declared disasters, in addition to smaller state and local events. As long as disasters strike, BART will continue to be a shining example of hope for animals in need.