New line of defense for battling forest fires

A lightning strike was the cause of a 817 acre wildfire in Crawford County in 2011.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is putting up a new building for a team that transforms surplus military vehicles and other equipment into gear for battling forest fires.

The Forest Fire Experiment Station is being constructed in Roscommon. Resource protection manager Paul Kollmeyer says it will replace an outdated facility and better accommodate large vehicles and new technology. It will feature "green" construction techniques and materials where possible to make the space more environmentally friendly than the previous building.

Staffers who work at the station include mechanics, design engineers and metal workers.

The station was established in 1929. Officials say many of the equipment designs developed there are used by other state and federal wildfire agencies.