Mitchell receives new $749,000 fire unitFire crews start training on new vehicle with 101-foot ladder.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
Mitchell’s shiny new fire truck arrived in the city Tuesday.
The 2010 ladder truck cost the city $749,000. Firefighters will train on it through Thursday, with each of the three shifts getting a day, said Assistant Fire Chief Paul Morris.
Tuesday afternoon, the firefighters circled the new truck, which had been used as a demo model, and never has responded to a fire.
“She’s a beauty,” said Fire Marshal Marius Laursen.
The current ladder truck, a 1982 model that Public Safety Department officials and Mayor Ken Tracy said was on its last legs, will be taken out of service in a few days when this new truck is added to the active list of Fire Division equipment.
Morris said there was no comparison between the two vehicles.
“It’s like a Ferrari vs. a grain truck,” he said. “It’s about 20 steps up.”
A bucket at the top of the ladder makes it easier and safer for a firefighter to direct water and to monitor a blaze, Morris said. There are also oxygen tanks mounted on the truck, and two lines leading to the bucket. Firefighters can hook onto them to get clean air, and not have to wear a self-contained breathing apparatus, or SCBA, he said.
The ladder will reach 101 feet when fully extended. The old ladder truck reached 85 feet.
The new truck will reach windows in the fourth floor of the tallest building on the Dakota Wesleyan University campus and come to the edge of the helipad atop Avera Queen of Peace Hospital, Morris said.
It will also give the Fire Division the ability to extend the ladder out over a wide space to douse a fire or perform other tasks.
“It’s not always about height,” Morris said. “It’s also about reaching out.”
The truck has a 500-horsepower engine, gets about six miles to the gallon and holds 500 gallons of water.
Morris said he and other Fire Division staffers toured three factories and looked at several trucks over the past few years as the city prepared to add a newer piece of firefighting equipment. “In reality, this has been an eight-year process,” he said. “Eight years or longer, really.”
The city applied repeatedly for a federal grant to help pay for the truck but was never included in the list of grant recipients. The new grant announcement will be made Friday.
“Just my luck, we’ll be on this one,” Morris said. The grants are not retroactive.
Brian Gaalswyk, the salesman from Heiman Fire Equipment, came to Mitchell to help train the firefighters, as did Mike Harstad, who works for the manufacturer, which is based in Lyons.
Harstad is also the chief of the Crooks Fire Department. He worked with the Mitchell firefighters, showing them how to safely operate the new truck.
“Just showing them all the safe options for the truck itself,” he said. “This is a much more advanced truck than they’ve had before.”
Morris said firefighters on all three shifts, who work 24 hours at a time, will get a chance to learn about the truck. That will include classroom instruction as well as hands-on training.
The Mitchell Fire Division, through the city and the Mitchell Rural Fire Association, has access to 17 vehicles, including three engines, an engine/pumper, a tanker, the ladder truck, two grass rigs, a technical rescue truck, a four-wheeler, two support vehicles, four ambulances and a rescue boat.
The division has 25 full-time employees, including Public Safety Chief Lyndon Overweg, and three part-time staffers, Morris said.