ASHLAND – Even though it’s been in service since May, the Ashland Volunteer Fire Department’s new fire engine didn’t go to a structure fire until last week.
The new pumper truck was called into action on Oct. 31 when the Ashland department helped with a garage fire at North Lake near Louisville, said Fire Chief Mike Meyer.
The new engine was built by Pierce Manufacturing and it replaces another Pierce-made engine that was purchased in 2006, said Second Assistant Fire Chief Chad Hart.
Its main purpose of the engine is to pump and carry water and transport tools, hose and extrication equipment. The department chose a new style of engine, called a Velocity PUC (Pierce Ultimate Configuration) pumper. The rig is shorter in length than the old one, and it fits more easily in the fire hall bays.
“It’s designed for smaller houses,” said Meyer.
The new engine carries 250 more gallons of more water than the old one, an increase of 750 gallons to 1,000 gallons. That extra 250 gallons is the equivalent of one to two minutes of firefighting time, Hart said.
“Which does make a difference,” Meyer added.
The increased water storage is important because the Ashland fire district covers a lot of rural homes and lake areas, where fire hydrants are nonexistent.
On the old engine, the pump was mounted on the top of the rig. The person in charge of the pump had to stand on top of the rig, Meyer said.
The new pump system also takes less time to get the water established, getting water on the fire sooner, Hart said.
“There’s less steps in order to get the same results as the old pumper,” Meyer said.
The new pump system is also easier to operate.
“We’re really excited about that because it takes a lot of pressure off the pump operator,” Meyer said.
A large deck gun on the top of the engine has a large bore nozzle that shoots 1,000 gallons of water a minute.
“You can control it from the ground instead of having someone climb on top and set it,” said Meyer.
The engine was completely customized by the Ashland department.
“We need custom (engines) here because we have issues bigger departments don’t have,” said Meyer.
The cab has increased insulation to cut down on noise, making it easier for fire fighters to communicate, Meyer said.
The suspension and brakes are also an improvement over the old engine.
“The brakes on it are amazing,” said Hart. “They stop a big piece of equipment like that very quickly.”
The department chose all LED lights on the exterior, which illuminate the scene better. They also require less energy, so the generator used to power the lights is smaller. That helped save the department nearly $20,000.
All of the tools, hose and the electronic panel on the new engine are enclosed, another improvement over the old engine. The equipment will last longer without being exposed to the elements, Hart said, especially the hose.
“There’s a hard cover over the hose bed and in the long run that keeps the sun, dirt and rain off and helps preserve the life of the equipment,” he said.
The new engine cost $704,300, a big price tag but not unusual for a large piece of equipment like this, said Meyer.
It was paid for by the Ashland Rural Fire District.
“Our rural board takes really good care of us,” said Hart.