The Huntersville Fire Department’s newest piece of equipment will help the department’s firefighting capabilities, may wind up helping save taxpayers some money down the road.The new equipment – a 105-foot ladder truck, built by Smeal Fire Apparatus Co. at its Snyder, Neb., facility – went into service Aug. 12, replacing a 75-foot ladder truck the department had used since 1997.“The guys love it,” department Deputy Chief Ben Reagan said. “The ease of operation, the sturdiness of the aerial (ladder), everything. It’s just going to make their job easier, and they know it. Best of all, it’s new. Anytime we get something like that, the guys like it.”The base design of the new ladder truck copies that used by the Charlotte Fire Department, which, coupled with combining its order with one from Charlotte Fire Department, allowed the Huntersville Fire Department to cut the purchase price to $740,000, according to Bill Suthard, Huntersville Fire Department public information officer.“We were able to save about 25 percent on the purchase price by doing that,” Suthard said.But there are a few features special to Huntersville’s new ladder truck, which was delivered in late May and has been used for crew training and certifications since then. For example, it has a larger passenger cab, with more headroom and space at the rear for an exterior compartment holding pressurized water bottles and firefighting tools.It’s also wired for Internet access, allowing the use of iPads loaded with a computerized navigation and dispatch system, and is painted in the Huntersville Fire Department’s new color scheme – black and red, a pattern Reagan said would be duplicated on the department’s other trucks when they’re replaced with newer models.Then there’s the ladder itself, which has a movable nozzle on the end that can deliver 2,000 gallons of water per minute on a fire, or enable firefighters to reach the town’s tallest buildings for rescues or to put out fires.“Basically, for us, it gives us more reach,” Reagan said. “It’ll allow up to reach the top story of our tallest structures without being what we call ‘the collapse zone.’ It also allows us to reach residential structures that have good-sized setbacks from the street, and not have to pull up into driveways or close to the burning structure.”That’s where the new truck could save taxpayers money, by lowering Huntersville Fire Department’s Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating, a system used by insurance companies to determine fire and homeowner’s insurance rates in many states, including North Carolina.According to Reagan, the Huntersville Fire Department currently carries a PPC rating of 6/9. The lower number applies to those living in the town limits or within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant, the higher rating for those living in Huntersville’s extra-territorial jurisdiction (EJT) or more than 1,000 feet from a hydrant.“The state is revamping the ISO rating system, adding some things and removing some things that are old and really don’t apply anymore,” Reagan said. “We were going to be inspected this month, but it might not happen until after the first of the year. We just don’t know yet.”The new ladder truck is based at Station 1, near downtown Huntersville, and has been christened Ladder 1. The 75-foot ladder truck has been put into reserve, available for use in emergencies or when the bigger truck is down for maintenance.“We’re trying to get ourselves on a 10-year replacement cycle,” Reagan said. “We’d eventually like to have our trucks do 10 years of frontline, first-out service, then 10 more years of reserve status. With the ladder (trucks), we try to do 15 years of frontline service, then 5 to 7 years of reserve.“Right now, we’re holding to plan. That way, we’re not riding around in something that’s old and out of date. We don’t want to have equipment that’s not mechanically sound, and constantly out of service for maintenance. We want to keep our stuff up to date so we can protect the citizens as best we can.”
Friday, Aug. 23, 2013
Huntersville rolls out new fire truck
Kiser: 704-895-3662; Twitter: @BKiser_CLTObs
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