Special to the Register
Gainesville Fire-Rescue went old school last week, opting to follow a tradition begun in the 1830s to push the department’s newest ladder truck into the fire station on Santa Fe Street in Gainesville.
Assistant Fire Chief Wally Cox said the Monday ceremony was part of a tradition that began when fire departments were still using horse-drawn equipment.
The horses could not push the apparatus back into fire stations — which were not yet the drive-through designs of today — so firefighters had to manually push the apparatus into the fire stations. Its purpose today is to maintain tradition and to show the pride firefighters have in taking care of their equipment, Cox noted.
Although the tradition is old, the truck, built by Ferrarra Fire Apparatus in Holden, La., is definitely modern. Controls and lighting use the most current technology which provides greater visibility with less load on the truck’s electrical system.
The truck’s most noticeable feature is the aerial ladder. With a reach of 107 feet, the ladder can provide access to the roof or top floor of almost any structure in the city. This feature adds over 30 feet in height compared to the older truck. The truck is equipped with multiple safety devices to protect the firefighters during aerial operations.
The new truck also comes with a larger pumping capacity. With a 2,000 gallons per minute capacity, the truck can discharge 1,250 gallons per minute via a large volume nozzle mounted on the ladder while continuing to supply hose lines on the ground. The truck is equipped with a 500 gallon water tank for initial extinguishment and carries 1,000 feet of large diameter hose to access the city’s fire hydrant system.
The pumping system is operated electronically with controls on a touch screen similar to a computer. Information concerning pressures, amount of water flowing, engine information, etc., are available to the operator at the touch of a screen.
Over the next few weeks, the new ladder truck will be seen around the city as firefighters begin driving the apparatus to become familiar with its operating characteristics. They will also be looking at ladder placement sites around selected buildings and facilities. This information will be added to the pre-fire plan documentation for selected facilities.
The truck, which is housed at Fire Station No. 1 in the Public Safety Center, is replacing a 1995 ladder truck.
Under the city’s fleet replacement plans, fire apparatus, like the new one at Station 1, are expected to stay in service for 15 years before being replaced.
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