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Fremont fire Capt. Gary Ashley points out one of six workstations on Fremont s new mobile command unit Wednesday. The 44-foot-long vehicle cost $1.3 million.

FREMONT -- A $1.3 million public safety vehicle could help catch criminals in a manhunt or save lives in a disaster or, less perilously, stand guard at a city festival, ensuring that revelers safely have fun.

Whatever the situation, Fremont's new "Public Safety Mobile Command Vehicle" -- a 44-foot-long, custom-made machine packed with high-tech features -- will help aid and protect southern Alameda County residents, city leaders said Wednesday as they unveiled it.

Public safety leaders designed the 31-ton apparatus, creating one of California's few vehicles made for both police and fire department use, said Fremont fire Capt. Gary Ashley. Built by Wisconsin-based Pierce Manufacturing, it was envisioned as a mobile station for use in police standoffs, three-alarm fires, or for traveling to provide mutual aid during major regional emergencies.

Fremont fire Capt. Gary Ashley points out one of six workstations on Fremont s new mobile command unit Wednesday. The 44-foot-long vehicle cost $1.3
Fremont fire Capt. Gary Ashley points out one of six workstations on Fremont s new mobile command unit Wednesday. The 44-foot-long vehicle cost $1.3 million. (ANDA CHU/STAFF PHOTOS)

It might even be used for crowd security at the Fremont Festival of the Arts and other special events that draw thousands of people, said fire Capt. Daniel Cardenas.

"If something goes down where people get hurt at a large gathering, you need police, fire and emergency medical services all talking to each other," Cardenas said. "With this vehicle, you have all parties already together in one place. That's when it really comes in handy."

The vehicle has six workstations, a small conference room, a secure wireless modem, 27 flat-screen monitors, three 42-inch TV screens, a bathroom, and a kitchenette with a microwave, sink and refrigerator.

Atop the vehicle, a retractable antenna that also carries a remote-control camera can rise 33 feet. It soon will be one of the West Coast's few public safety automobiles equipped to receive and dispatch 911 calls, said police spokeswoman Geneva Bosques.

"No other vehicle in this area will have that capability," she said.

Fremont leaders say the mobile command center is worth its seven-figure bill, especially because more than half -- some $900,000 -- of it was paid with a federal homeland security grant. The city paid the remaining $400,000, Cardenas said.

The vehicle was delivered to the city in November, and it has been used for standoffs with suspects and other police work. When a Pacific Commons car meet got out of control in December, officers parked it near the next gathering in January, showing the car aficionados that police presence would be heavy. The second car meet was free of incident.

The vehicle -- nearly 13 feet high -- replaces Fremont's smaller mobile unit, which the city has used since the early 1990s, Bosques said.

"It was the size of a small RV," she said. "This new one is significantly bigger, and it's designed to last longer than 20 years."

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