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The Ford Bronco has impressed many drivers with its basic features and its depth of optional packages to fully kit out the SUV. The automaker is sending out a new version of the Bronco to help firefighters deal with wildfires. Ford’s actions are a noble gesture, let’s take a closer look at this custom SUV.

The Bronco Wild Fund is providing customized Broncos to the National Park Service

The custom Ford Bronco is being sent to the National Park Service for use in New Mexico’s Bandelier National Monument. The 33,000-acre area has been a national monument since 1916 to preserve the ancestral territory of Ancestral Puebloans, whose past presence is still visible thanks to petroglyphs, cliff dwellings, and other pieces of evidence of human activity going back over 11,000 years.  

About 69% of Bandelier (23,267 acres to be exact) is designated as the Bandelier Wilderness Area, meaning that motorized travel and permanent infrastructure are legally barred from being built there, and certain areas are not easy to access. This can make it hard for firefighters to work during the increasingly lengthy fire season. 

The Bronco is being donated through Ford’s Bronco Wild Fund, a charitable organization that seeks to improve the preservation and stewardship of public lands. As part of the campaign, Ford made the Bronco + Filson Wildland Fire Rig Concept in collaboration with outdoor clothing brand Filson in 2020 and donated two models to support the National Forest Foundation.

The Bronco Wild Fund has also raised over $3.7 million for many causes, including organizations like America’s State Parks, National Forest Foundation, Outward Bound, and Sons of Smokey.

“For more than a century Ford has supported fire response and disaster relief efforts by deploying vehicles to provide emergency transportation and power and deliver essential goods,” said Ford Enthusiast Brand Manager Dave Rivers in a press release. “Bronco Wild Fund was created because of our passion for the outdoors, and we’re excited to donate the Bronco wildland firefighting command rig to Bandelier to help protect this National Monument for generations to come.”

This Bronco is one of two vehicles in development for donation to the NPS and a wildland firefighting agency to be announced later. 

The Ford Bronco Badlands specs

The Bronco is a revised version of the Badlands trim with the Sasquatch off-road package, but the SUV also comes with a number of distinct features to make communication of vital information easier and more accessible for firefighters. 

A modern government communication system with satellite and antenna connections is included so that crews can establish their location with other response teams in real-time during emergencies.

The Bronco also comes with a drone, tablet computer, and special software to further increase awareness of their surroundings. On the hardware front, the Bronco is made more special by its grille guard, a factory-installed Warn winch, a set of beadlock wheels, and a roof rack fitted with a light bar, search and emergency lights, and a siren.

Bandelier National Monument superintendent Patrick Suddath expressed deep gratitude for the Bronco. 

“Over the last 20 years, warmer temperatures and stronger winds have resulted in bigger fires that are harder to predict and manage. These more resource-intensive fires have a real impact on Bandelier’s firefighting corps, and this donation will help us manage fires better,” he said. “It will also help to minimize impact to the park’s affiliated tribes, who have traditionally used parkland for cultural, economic, and spiritual reasons.”

This is one way for car companies to combat the ongoing climate crisis

Giving away free Broncos is a timely PR move given that uncontrollable wildfires are now a common part of the summer season. One of 2023’s most enduring images in New York engulfed in a dystopian orange haze as smoke from Canadian wildfires drifted south into the States. 

Climate change will only make these disasters more regular and destructive going forward, and while electric vehicles are nice, they are not going to lower global temperatures on their own. Bigger structural changes are likely needed to avert the worst-case scenario.

The NPS’ new Broncos are undoubtedly helpful, but the wildfires they’re being used to extinguish will continue to wreak havoc without more significant investments in sustainability. 


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