Archive for Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Two new fire trucks added to city’s fleet

December 13, 2006

When firefighters respond to a call, they hop into massive fire trucks and move quickly to the fire.

However, those trucks can be difficult to navigate through narrow street corners or cul-de-sacs.

The Tonganoxie Fire Department now has trucks that can maneuver better -- which will save time -- in residential areas.

The department added two new trucks to its fleet this month. One truck, a custom pumper, can pump 1,500 gallons per minute, while the other truck, a commercial pumper, can push out 1,250 gallons per minute.

Both trucks maneuver better than the rest of the fleet, especially the custom pumper, which Fire Chief Dave Bennett said can make its way around a cul-de-sac on one swift turn.

Other trucks have required three- or four-point turns.

"The custom cab is the style of truck that I hope in the future we go to because, one, the safety capabilities it gives our firemen being inside," Bennett said. "The maneuverability is a big thing."

Bennett said both trucks "turn sharper" than other trucks in the fleet.

The two trucks, purchased from a truck manufacturer in Breda, Iowa, cost about $474,000.

Bennett said that he budgeted for one truck about three years ago for $400,000.

Bennett said when he budgeted that money, it included a truck and additional equipment, such as an additional extrication equipment, a natural gas monitor and a thermal imager.

Bennett estimated that, three years ago, he allotted $300,000 for a truck and $100,000 for that equipment.

"You don't want to leave yourself short," Bennett said, explaining the budgeted money. "You want to meet your needs, but be fiscally responsible."

Bennett said that with Tonganoxie's growth, it was more logical to change the scope of the purchase to two trucks rather than one.

The new trucks replace two other trucks, which Bennett said will be sold. The sales are not final on those two vehicles, but Bennett said the revenue should cover the remaining $74,000.

The custom truck replaces a 1978 Pierce truck, while the commercial truck replaces a newer model that's similar to new vehicle, but doesn't have as many capabilities.

The new vehicles also will cut down on response time to certain emergencies.

For instance, if a tanker truck catches on fire or overturns and leaks gasoline or another substance, the trucks can emit foam at the touch of a button. The foam extinguishes any fire and suppresses vapors so they can't reignite.

Previously, the department had to manually set up the foam system, which Bennett said "takes a great deal of time."

Bennett also hopes the new trucks will lower insurance costs for Tonganoxie businesses.

He said many, but not all, insurance companies have lower rates for businesses, based on a fire department's Insurance Services Organization rating.

Bennett said it was possible truck additions, because of their increased ability to pump water, could help the city's ISO rating.

Tonganoxie currently has a "6" rating, with a "1" being the best.

The fire chief said ISO officials would need to do an updated evaluation of the city's fire protection.

"We've gained in certain areas, like fire flow capacity," Bennett said, referring to how fast water can be pumped from a hydrant. "And maybe have lost something because the town has grown a bunch.

"I'm hoping we can lower it. We'll just have to see."

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