FORT LEE, Va. (Feb. 2, 2012) -- Fort Lee firefighters gathered at Fire Station No. 2 Jan. 20 to place a new 2011 100-foot aerial platform fire truck into service for the first time.
During the early-morning ceremony, the new fire truck was commissioned with American Fire Service traditions that have been in place since the 1830s. The parts of the ceremony included the blessing of the truck, transfer of equipment, washing the wheels and pushing the truck into the station for the first time.
Station Chief Brion Bear conducted a blessing of the new aerial ladder truck and all firefighters who will ride the apparatus throughout this fire truck's service life.
Fire Captain Max Andrucci and his company transferred their turnout gear from the current Truck 9, a 1991 100-foot aerial ladder truck, to the new aerial fire truck designated "Truck 10." This part of the ceremony represented that there is no break in the trust and ability to provide firefighting services to the community. He then led his personnel in washing the truck wheels. This tradition is from the times when fire truck wheels were the made of wood and washing the wheels kept them from drying out, and the apparatus was cleaned each time it was backed into a fire station. A clean and well-maintained fire truck signaled to the public that the firefighters were ready at a moment's notice.
Afterward, the F&ES firefighters and officers gathered at the front and sides of the new truck to push it into its assigned bay for the first time. In the early days of the fire service, the horse-drawn fire apparatus had to be pushed back into the fire station each time after a call, since the horses could not back up.
"Truck 10" is the first new vehicle the department has received in more than a decade, said Fire Chief Tom Bahr.
"The change is very significant when you compare '90s technology to today's standards," said Bahr. "The safety features provided will protect the personnel responding and operating at an emergency scene, such as roll over protection and an air bag system in the rare incident of an accident. It will ensure that they are able to go home after each shift."
The new truck also provides a dramatic improvement to the department's aerial firefighting capabilities.
"Previously, our aerial rescue and firefighting capabilities were limited to a 100-foot reach using a mobile ‘extension ladder,'" said Bahr. "It was very time-consuming to deploy, and a firefighter would have to climb the ladder to assist the occupant down the ladder. With this new truck, we can now quickly raise an enclosed platform from the ground to 100 feet within a few minutes and get the occupants inside the platform for a quick ride back to the ground."
Since Fort Lee now has larger and taller buildings, Bahr said, fires would need more water to extinguish the flames. The new truck has twice the fire knockdown capability of 2,000 gallons per minute water flow compared to the old truck's 1,000 gallons per minute water flow.
Another state-of-the-art feature onboard this new truck is an emergency LED lighting system with the ability to control traffic signal lights at intersections, which allows for a safer and quicker response, said Bahr. An onboard hydraulic electric generator in the truck's cab will provide scene lighting and vehicle ground illumination before the truck has stopped at the emergency scene.
This $800,000 truck has been at Fort Lee since last July and was purchased by the U.S. Army. Additional equipment to place the truck into service was more than $150,000. During the last six months, firefighters had to receive extensive training on the truck to be able to properly respond to emergencies.
The Fort Lee F&ES is scheduled for replacement of two more vehicles in the near future, pending funding.
(Information also provided by the Fort Lee Fire and Emergency Services.)