Scott City's new fire truck ready to roll

Monday, September 29, 2003

The 18 volunteers who make up Scott City's firefighting force have been putting in extra hours at the fire station this past week. The city's new $293,000 fire engine was delivered Tuesday. Since then, the firefighters have been receiving training on the truck and have been testing hoses and the $50,000 in new equipment the truck is outfitted with.

Fire chief Jay Cassout said the truck should be in service by today.

Thursday afternoon, firefighters Ben Harrison, Darren Stephens and Marvin Raines were among those who dropped by to watch while the engine's radio system was being installed. The firefighters are proud of the new truck and are enthusiastic about its capabilities.

"It's going to be a workhorse," said Stephens, a volunteer firefighter for 11 years. "It's going to be able to do anything and everything."

The truck is "user-friendly," he said.

The 30,000-pound pumper's controls, positioned in a panel on the left side of the truck at the rear, are button-operated instead of lever-operated. The water or foam or length of hose a situation calls for can be summoned immediately.

A phone modem in the six-person cab allows technicians at the plant that manufactured the truck to troubleshoot any problems that arise.

In some ways, the major improvements over the department's second-newest truck, made in 1993, are ergonomic.

The new truck has a rear-mounted pump, which reduces the hazard of tripping over hoses. Having the control panel at the rear of the truck instead of in the middle, where it is in the department's 1993 pumper, also gives the captain a better view of the scene.

These may seem like subtle differences, but they can make a difference when lives may depend on how quickly the firefighters act.

The truck also is equipped with a water pump and foam discharge unit at the front, which means the truck can pull onto the shoulder on the interstate and attack a car fire head-on. "We don't have to get out in the driving lane," Cassout said.

Equipment the firefighters need is stored on shelves that slide out for easier access.

A committee of Scott City firefighters designed many of these options before the truck was put out for bid. Scott City ordered the truck last October from low bidder Precision Fire Apparatus, a manufacturer in Camdenton, Mo.

Financed by sales tax

Cassout is the only member of the department who isn't a volunteer. He is a part-time city employee who works two days per week. In 1998, Scott City voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax to finance fire department improvements. The primary reason for the tax was the purchase of the new fire engine. It replaced a truck that was built in the 1970s.

Previously, all three of the department's trucks were needed to pump the 3,000 gallons of water per minute required to maintain the city's class 6 ISO rating. Now the new truck and the truck purchased in 1993 can do the job together.

Insurance Services Office of Jersey City, N.J., provides the insurance industry with statistical and actuarial information. Its rating is a factor in homeowners and business insurance rates within the city.

The city sold the 1970 truck to the New Hamburg, Benton, Chaffee Fire Department. Scott City's third truck is now 22 years old and will be kept in reserve.

The city sells fire contracts outside the city limits and also will respond if people don't have a contract. Those residents then are charged a fee. The Scott City department also provides fire protection for nearby Kelso, Mo.

Last summer, the firefighting sales tax also enabled the city to replace its aging rescue tools. The tax will expire in 2005.

The city plans to hold an open house at the fire department soon so the public can inspect the truck. "We want the citizens to come by and look at it and be proud of what the city's got," Cassout said.

335-6611, extension 182

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