HARWICH – The fire department’s new quint ladder truck has arrived, and members of the department have been busy training and becoming familiar with the vehicle operations.
Every member of the department must have 10 hours of training with the vehicle before it will be put into service, Fire Chief David LeBlanc said.
The new ladder truck was built by Sutphen Corporation of Cincinnati, Ohio, and arrived last Tuesday after a two-day trip. The quint — so called because it performs five functions — will replace the 30-year old ladder truck 66, which may be sold to the Quincy Fire Department. The new truck, which will become ladder truck 66, cost $1,076,979.
“This truck provides much more capability,” said LeBlanc.
The old ladder truck had aerial and ground ladders, while the new vehicle has a 100-foot aerial ladder, ground ladders, a tank to hold water, a built-in aerial ladder hose pipe and a pump. With the old truck, LeBlanc said, firefighters had to attach a hose to get water to the top of the ladder. The already-attached hose pipe is a great addition, he said.
“The great thing is to have the water right there when you are working from the ladder bucket,” LeBlanc said.
The old ladder truck was having problems with the aerial ladder. Each year the aerial ladder has to be tested, and over the past three years the department has spent between $15,000 and $20,000 on upkeep and repairs for the truck to remain in service, LeBlanc said.
The department of public works maintains the department’s vehicles, LeBlanc said, but repairs to the aerial ladder had to be sent out to be addressed.
The department began training with the new truck last Wednesday. Half the staff did factory training on Wednesday, and the staff was back at it on Thursday. LeBlanc estimated it will take the better part of a month to complete the training.
“We’re not in a rush to get it online,” LeBlanc said. “The old truck still works.”
The new truck is 44 feet long while the old one was 38 feet. but it can be set up on a smaller footprint based on the outrigger design. It is very maneuverable, LeBlanc said. One of the challenges facing fire apparatus is movement through narrow streets. The Campground section of town is the ideal testing location. The quint maneuvered quite well through the narrow streets, even handling the sharp corner onto Atlantic Avenue, LeBlanc said.
The transition to the new truck is easier because all the controls, lighting and buttons are similar and in the same location as the department’s other vehicles, also built by Sutphen.
“The less stress the better,” LeBlanc said of performing a quick start when responding to an emergency.