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by Mark Cheffey
Santa was a little late delivering to the Palmyra Fire Protection District, but at least the present came in time for Christmas.
Earlier this month, the department took possession of a brand-new fire truck, a 1,000 gallon pumper that will become the lead vehicles to calls as soon as it is prepared and ready to go.
“It will be the first one out the door,” said Fire Chief Gary Crane of the shiny box-shaped truck painted in the familiar Palmyra green with gleaming silver fittings.
“It’s going to be a good addition for us,” he said.
The $700,000-plus Pierce Manufacturing built pumper is actually the department’s first new — bumper-to-bumper pumper since 1994.
Since then, the department has relied on used trucks sold by other departments, and when one is brought in, another one goes out the door, sold to someone else.
That will not be the case with the new one as the department holds on to is existing equipment to prepare for future expansion.
“This wouldn’t be possible without the fire protection district,” Crane said. “We couldn’t have afforded to buy this truck otherwise.”
Crane said the district purchased property in Taylor at the old sand plant where a new facility will be built to better serve the northern part of the district, including West Quincy and Taylor where a large number of fire, crash and other emergency calls originate.
The district is presently working with Klingner & Associates which is designing and engineering the proposed structure, which is expected to be a metal building with wood structure to hose a pumper, tanker and brush truck.
There is, as yet, no projected time for it to be built or even have earth turned.
“It takes time getting everything lined up and get it going,” Crane said, noting some site prep can be done in the meantime, along with putting feelers out for new crew members.
The district is also working with the United States Postal Service about renting space in the new building as the Taylor Post Office as a way of helping pay for the building’s regular expenses.
Meanwhile, supply chain issues contributed to the late delivery of the new truck, which was originally ordered in November of last year.
Crane said the district designed its own truck from bumper to bumper, toured the assembly-line plant in Appleton, Wis. where it was built and received regular updates on its construction including more than 700 photos of the truck as it was built, inside and out.
The district was chomping at the bit to get it back in October, but delivery was still pushed back until it finally came the first week of December.
Crane said it could be frustrating at times as changes had to be made to the truck before it could be completed.
For example, the district selected specific rear-view mirrors to be mounted on the front doors. But another mirror had to be substituted when the manufacturers of the original mirror could not produce it.
The original front doors had to be thrown away, since they were already stamped for the first mirrors and would not work for the replacements.
The district is still waiting on delivery of the new radios that will go into the new truck.
“We were originally told they will be in sometime in July or August, and they said ‘we can’t honestly tell when they will be ready,’” Crane said. “When stuff shows up, we know we got it.”
In the meantime, the truck will be equipped with a loaner.
Right now, the district is busy putting all the equipment into the truck, which Crane said is akin to filling cabinets in a new house. If you don’t like something in one place, you move it to another.
“Fire trucks are no different,” Crane said. “It’s just bigger stuff and heavier stuff.”
There are some new things to get used too as well.
For one thing, the decision was made to move the pumping equipment from the front to the back for better access. Also, all the leaders and hoses are stored inside.
A nice feature is the telescoping light tower that can rise to 23 feet above the top of the truck to provide better coverage.
“We were playing around with it the other day and were able to light up two square blocks,” Crane said, adding the light will come in handy when responding to night emergencies, especially crashes along highways where there is no lighting.
Crane said crew members are a little nervous about driving the truck for the first time.
“They don’t want to be the first one to put a scratch on it,” Crane said.