Edwardsville prepares to put new fire truck in service
Edwardsville’s new fire truck should be seen on the city’s streets regularly beginning next month.
In December, the Edwardsville City Council approved using revenues from the city’s new sales tax to make payments for a new fire truck. The $355,000 truck, a 2015 Pierce Saber pumper, arrived early last month, but it will be a week or more before it is put into full service. Fire Chief Tim Whitham explained that is because firefighters are first completing some important training on the new apparatus, and the city also is waiting for additional equipment for the truck.
The new truck is replacing a 1989 model, but it has several technological advances even over the city’s other 2005 truck. For example, the truck has reinforced roll-over protection and a foam cell and foam inline pump as an additional method of putting out fires.
This is why firefighters have been training with the new truck about three hours every day.
“Because there’s been that many changes with the technology of the apparatus and it is different than what we’ve been working with, we went into a very aggressive training mode,” Whitham said.
Training has included more than just learning to use the pumps and other equipment on the truck; firefighters must get used to driving it. As a newer truck, it handles much differently than the older vehicle.
That’s part of why residents may have noticed the new truck out and about.
“It has been through the streets, the alleyways, 435; it has been all over the jurisdiction for the guys to get used to how it reacts,” Whitham said. “Driver’s training is just as important as learning how the pump operates … they are trying to establish that muscle memory for where stuff is so when it does go into service on that first day, they’re not trying to bounce back and forth as to how we did things from one truck to the next.”
Additionally, when a city purchases a fire apparatus or any other sort of safety vehicle, it doesn’t contain all of the necessary equipment. For example, the city had to order snow chains, installing them last week.
“There’s still some other miscellaneous stuff that needs to be mounted to the truck before we fully roll it out and put it in service,” Whitham said.
Some equipment may still be a couple of weeks out due to the manufacturer’s delay or the need for the vendor to come in and install it. But Whitham is still hoping the truck will go into full service the first week of March.
The new truck is filling a significant need for the city — last year, controversy arose when the 1989 and 2005 truck broke down at the same time, and the department relied on mutual aid and a borrowed truck from the Bonner Springs Fire Department while it waited for repairs.
The 1989 truck is no longer on the premises. The 2005 truck is the first responder, but in addition to the usual mutual aid from nearby fire departments, Whitham said the 2015 truck can be used even with a few pieces missing, but not essential, equipment.
“It’s just not in first run capabilities … push comes to shove, there’s a fire, that truck’s got the radios, it’s got water, it’s got the pump, it’s fully equipped, it’s just not mounted the way we want it mounted yet,” Whitham said. “They can put it in service and still respond to the emergency.”