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New red fire engine is green

Firefighters have spent the past couple weeks learning the equipment on the new lead engine. —Macklin Reid photo

Red and white — but nice and green — Ridgefield’s new $575,000 fire truck rolled into town at the end of the second week of January.

“It’s green! It meets the new EPA standards for diesel vehicles,” fire Chief Heather Burford said. “This is the first piece of apparatus in the department that meets those new standards. So we’ve gone green.

“We’re trying to be responsible citizens,” she added.

Because the new truck has a lot of upgraded and different equipment and features, it’ll be a couple of weeks before it’s reporting to fires. All 34 firefighters will be trained.

“We want to be able to ensure everybody is familiar with it and comfortable before it goes into service,” Chief Burford said.

“One of the things we built into the specifications is we’d have manufacturer training, because the pump panel is a little different, and because it carries Class A foam. We have no other apparatus that carries Class A foam,” Chief Burford said.

“This company is even going to train our mechanics at the Highway Department.”

Capt. Dave McDevitt explained the two types of foam the new engine has.

“Class A foam would be for a regular structure fire — wood, paper, building materials,” he said.

“Class B foam would be for use on hydrocarbons — oil, gasoline, flammable liquid.”

Capt. McDevitt ran through other features firefighters consider improvements. Many are safety features, or ergonomic improvements.

Two hydraulic cutting tools for extractions from car wrecks — the “jaws of life” — are pre-connected in a compartment on the side of the truck.

“Roll-up doors,” he said, opening one of the side compartments for hoses and equipment. “That’s huge. No longer are we opening up doors into traffic.”

The emergency medical equipment is also more easily accessible. In the past it’s been inside; now it’s accessible from the outside.

Similarly, the one-and-three-quarters-inch hose is now accessible from ground level.

There’s internal storage, rather than on the outside of the truck, for ladders and “hard suction” hose ends that allow water to be drawn efficiently from ponds.

There’s a rear, automated reel for the small hose.

“It’s a time saver. You just hit a button and it reels it back in,” Capt. McDevitt said.

The engine brings the department’s total pieces of equipment to 11— four pumper engines, two tankers, a ladder truck, a heavy rescue vehicle, and three ambulances.

“This new one is an engine pumper, sort of the classic engine that people think of, what I call the workhorse of the fire service,” Chief Burford said.

The town’s new $575,000 fire truck had a September 11th memorial painted on the back. The circle in front of the American flag says “Box 8087 Vesey St. & Church St.” the alarm box and street address of World Trade Center. Below a skyline silhouette of the twin towers is written “5-5, 5-5” recalling the old bell code for a “line of duty death.” And below are the words “We will never forget.” Shown, from left are Capt. Dave McDevitt and firefighters Ryan Eckhoff, Ed Marchitto, Zach Deutscher and Patrick Holland.—Macklin Reid photo

“The current engine it replaces is a year 2000 model in its 13th year of service,” Chief Burford said. “That will become a reserve piece for us.”

Next up in the replacement plan — it’s a $565,000 request in the coming year’s 2013-14 capital budget— is Engine 2, the lead truck out of the Ridgebury station, which would be in its ninth year of service. “That currently has high mileage and a high hour count on it.”

The department has a 15-year replacement plan for equipment.

“Various types of apparatus need replacement at different time intervals,” Chief Burford said.

“The ladder truck doesn’t need to be replaced every 10 years because it’s not used as often. In our situation, life expectancy is between 25 and 30 years.  “Same thing with the tankers,” she said. “Tanker 10 is a 1986 — a 27-year-old that’s still in good shape. …

“The other thing we consider when it comes to our apparatus is how equipment can be used on a regional level,” she said.

“We know surrounding communities have tankers as well. And though our department may need three, we can rely on our mutual aid. We try to keep our equipment resources reasonable for our day-to-day activities.”

The department is excited to have its new lead engine — at last.

“It has been an 18-month-long process from the day the funds were approved to the day the truck backed in,” Chief Burford said. “That includes 230 days of build-time.

After voters approved the spending in May 2011, a committee with representatives of all four department shifts was formed. They spent five and a half months studying industry standards, looking at new features being offered, and putting the specifications together.

Four bids were received. The low bid meeting the specifications was from Greenwood Emergency Vehicles of Attleboro, Mass., which is an area representative for E-One, the Florida company that built the fire truck.

The committee consisted of Assistant Chief Kevin Tappe, Capt. Jerry Meyers, Lt. Mike Moore, firefighter Bruce Taylor, and firefighter Ted Peatt.

“So far, the feedback has been very positive,” Chief Burford said. “The committee worked extremely hard to come up with a piece of apparatus that suits our community, and they deserve a great deal of credit for the time and effort they put into this project.”

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