By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Current and former firefighters gathered together with local politicians and members of the public at the Morinville Fire Department Saturday afternoon for the arrival of Morinville’s new $1.2 million ladder and pumper truck.
The 2010 Pierce unit features a 100‘ aluminium platform and aerial ladder with a 2,000 gallon-per-minute waterous pump as well as numerous other bells and whistles – figurative and literal – that makes the truck capable of meeting Morinville’s fire and rescue needs for the next few decades.
Deputy Mayor Paul Krauskopf and Chief Ron Cust shared the duty of driving the truck from the industrial park to the fire station where it was pushed into its bay by Morinville’s firefighters in accordance with firefighter tradition.
“Some people are wondering why we would have such a large unit for Morinville,” Senior Captain Herb Pearce told those gathered to greet the new truck. “We do have schools, grain elevators, four-floor complexes and so on.”
Pearce said the new truck will also serve Morinville and Sturgeon County as a front line pump as well. The senior captain said that as of Nov. 6, the day the new truck arrived, the Morinville Fire Department had received 285 calls in 2010 and that the department is averaging between 320 to 340 calls per year in recent years.
Deputy Mayor Paul Krauskopf, who was involved with the Morinville Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter in the 1970s said he was impressed with the new unit.
“We have a top-of-the-line unit, first class, delivered to a first class fire department,” he said.
Councillor David Pattison, who prior to being elected to council served on the steering committee during the new units design and planning stage, was also impressed with the aerial pumper.
“Seeing it today – it’s going forward, that’s what it says,” Pattison said, noting the truck is well placed given the fire department’s 50th anniversary this year and the Town of Morinville’s 100th anniversary next year. “When you look at where we’ve come from; it’s a much needed piece of equipment. Seeing it today, compared to some of the drawings I saw on some of the other things that were done – it’s absolutely incredible. There’s no other word for it.”
Morinville Fire Chief Ron Cust said the strength of the new truck lies in its increased capabilities for fire and rescue and its increased capabilities in keeping Morinville’s firefighters safe.
“It has every indicator to tell you whether a door is open, whether every firefighter’s seat belt is belted,” Cust said, adding the new truck has airbags that protect all occupants in the event of a rollover.
The chief explained that the equipment has built in technology that will shut the things down if, for example, the 100-foot ladder is not being operated with the right percentages or degrees. The unit is also capable of being used as a light tower to illuminate an entire area.
Another important feature of the new truck is its ability to operate below grade.
“We can move it out over an ice surface and actually be able to rescue somebody right off of that,” Cust said, adding the bucket at the end of the ladder is capable of lifting 750 pounds when the ladder is fully extended.
The same bucket will allow firefighters to rappel down to a roof, eliminating the risk of a firefighter falling through a roof into the fire.