Nantucket, MA Fire Department

Nantucket, MA Fire Department

The History of the Nantucket Fire Department Motorcycle Unit

  In 1997 The Nantucket Fire Department started a Motorcycle Rescue Unit designed to get to situations that bigger vehicles could not get to.  It started with 2 1997 Kawasaki KZ 1000 Police Motorcycles.  Then had 2 Harley Davidson Police Electra-Glides, until 2007 when the unit was decommissioned due to budget cuts. 

From the Harley-Davidson Magazine “The Mounted Officer”  Spring of 1998

The first motor unit was introduced in the spring of 1992. It was a 1990 Kawasaki KZ 1000. This Zx600R. This was to the project on a “test” basis from a community source. The bike proved it’s self-invaluable in responding to medical calls through Nantucket’s narrow, crowed streets. In 1993 we were pleased to accept a new 1993 Kawasaki KZ 1000. This machine while fastest production motorcycle in the country, was not able to be used to it’s full potential. It’s limited maneuverability and lack of off-road ability, confined it to the streets of Nantucket’s business district. In 1995 we took a giant step in a new direction. The department contacted New England Police Vehicle Lease Corp. in Hampton NH. The president of the company worked closely with us to secure our first Harley-Davidson. It was a new FXRP Police Pursuit motorcycle. This unit was the first to be completely outfitted for the task of rapid Fire/Rescue response. After a very successful season the FXRP was upgraded to an FL. The 1996 FLHTP was a heavier and more stable bike, this unit was the best choice for rescue work. In March of 1997 we took delivery of an engine red, 1997 FLHTPI. This was the first unit produced exclusively for Fire/Rescue work. This unit represents Harley’s commitment to this up and coming resource. The Nantucket Fire Department was the first in the US to use a motorcycle for Emergency Medical Services on a full time basis. Subsequently, cities such as Daytona Beach have realized the potential and put units in service.

 The Nantucket Fire Department has operated a motorcycle as part of the Island’s Emergency Medical Services. We have a new 1997 FLHTPI. This bike is designed for Public Safety and comes appropriately enough in red.

 The motorcycle is operated by certified Medical Technicians. The primary function of the unit is to respond to emergencies in the town’s core district. The Island of Nantucket is maintained as a historical whaling port. With summer population of more than 50,000, one can imagine how difficult is to negotiate the traffic. The high maneuverability of the motorcycle makes it ideal for this job. The unit responds to all emergencies while on the road. A fire department ambulance and crew is dispatched for patient transport. The primary responsibility of the motorcycle operator is to respond quickly to provide patient care and stabilization at the scene. The motorcycle is used frequently for the following special events:



Sporting Events


4th of July

Trade Shows

Safety Shows

Public Relations


 The 1997 Electra Glide is used as a BLS (Basic Life Support) response vehicle on this tiny island off the coast of Massachusetts. The department leases the Haley for $2,000 per year from the local Harley-Davidson dealer, which offers the same deal to the other emergency providers in an effort to promote two-wheeled EMS response nationwide.

 Nantucket’s cycle is equipped with a Lifepak 500 automated external defibrillator. O2 unit and airway management kit, trauma kit and BLS drug box. “We use to run mountain bikes, but this is even better,” says Nantucket’s special ops division head Channing Egenberg, who started the Harley program. “We have improved maneuverability on narrow streets with half the response time as we did with the ambulance units.” Nantucket, where the population swells from 9,000 in winter to more than 50,000 in summer, has been running EMS on a Harley for the five years. EMTs attend school prior to joining the Harley Team.

 Special Operations

 The Motor-Medic program incorporates Firefighters from the Nantucket Fire Department, who are specially trained for the job. Each Firefighter is a certified Emergency Medical Technician. Each rider is then certified after completing an 80 hour Motor Unit Operator school. Each of the riders is then equipped with the specialized clothing and gear needed to perform his/her duties on a public safety motorcycle.

 Harley-Davidson Fire/Rescue:

 Harley-Davidson FLHTPI

1340 cc

2 cylinder

Air Cooled Engine, Fuel Injected

Motorola Multi-Frequency Radios

Whelen Strobes and Siren

Oxygen/Airway Mgmt. Equipment

Trauma Kit

Physio Control Life-Pak 500 Auto Defibrillator

C-Spine Mgmt. Equipment

  1997 Kawasaki KZ 1000 Police P-16

Information and Photos provided by The Nantucket, MA Fire Department  The second article came from the Harley-Davidson Magazine “The Mounted Officer”  from the Spring of 1998 Volume 10 Number 5.  Reproduced with permission from Harley-Davidson Police Fleet.