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Rising to new challenges

New fire truck will help city battle blazes in taller buildings

Rising to new challenges

Rising to new challenges

Firefighter Chris Page climbs aboard ...

The Statesboro Fire Department gained a new tool this week to combat structure fires and other emergency scenarios, and it's a force to be reckoned with.

After a nearly yearlong wait, a 100-foot platform aerial fire truck reached town Tuesday, ready to take on the challenges of a growing city.

The custom-built, 40-foot-long behemoth is equipped, among other things, with a 100-foot ladder and equipment that will allow for more efficient rescue efforts — be they needed — at an increasing number of three- and four-story buildings located throughout the city, Deputy Fire Chief Ronnie Shaw said.

A bucket at the ladder's end that's large enough for five firefighters, controls that allow for in-air maneuverability, and water and air lines that run from the truck to the platform will give rescue workers the ability to do things that, until now, have not been possible in the sky.

"(The new truck) will allow us to do much more in the air thanks to the bucket, and equipment therein, located on the end of the ladder. We can actually deploy fire suppression operations and rescue operations from that point, two stories and more up," Shaw said. "We can put the bucket up to a third- or fourth-story window and do everything we need to do from right there. We can deploy resources, hand lines, hoses, and ventilations apparatus all from that point."

The new truck, Tower 1, will take over as the primary aerial rescue machine next month, once crews have been fully trained in its operation.

A current 100-foot ladder vehicle, one without the same level of aerial maneuverability, will become the reserve truck.

"We can do so much more compared to what we have been able to with our other truck. There are just so many advantages to having a platform," Shaw said. "It is absolutely going to be a huge benefit. It will save us a lot of time, allowing us to do much more, much quicker."

Shaw said the new truck could be crucial to protecting a growing number of apartment buildings and Georgia Southern University structures that have been built in recent years.

From Statesboro Fire Department Station 1 on West Grady Street, where the truck will be based, the vehicle is within a 2½-mile radius of approximately 86 percent of the city's three- and four-story buildings, he said.
According to a department report, two-thirds of rescues made for structure fires during the past three years have been in multi-story residential buildings.

"All of those new challenges that have come with the growth of Statesboro made this truck a necessity," Shaw said. "There is no doubt about it."

The platform vehicle was paid for using Special Purpose Local Sales Tax dollars, as was another new fire engine schedule to arrive in Statesboro next week. The two new engines, combined, cost $1.3 million. The platform truck was purchased for about $940,000. The Fire Department was able to save more than $100,000 by purchasing the trucks together, Shaw said.

The new engine will go into service immediately, and eventually move into a new fire station — when constructed — in the near future.

"The firefighters are real excited about the new trucks," Shaw said. "They know the challenges that we face, and know what this will mean for our operations."

Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.


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