© Jerry Couch 2019
PLEASE MEET NUMBER 88, the St. Paul Volunteer Fire Department’s newest piece of fire-fighting equipment. Number 88 has been a long time in the making and its arrival in St. Paul has been eagerly anticipated by fire department members. This new pumper truck fairly bristles with state-of-the-art technology. Here are some of its many features:
Beginning with a White Freightliner chassis, structural aluminum is used wherever possible to reduce weight and guarantee long life without rust or corrosion. Motive power is supplied by a Cummins 370 horsepower diesel engine. A “Southwest Virginia specification” Allison automatic transmission features gear ratios capable of conquering the steepest grades. During an emergency, a 50-gallon fuel tank allows the truck’s engine to operate for hours without running out of fuel.
The drivers’ compartment of Number 88 features air-conditioning, power steering and brakes, power windows, cruise control, and a special communications and public address system with wireless headsets. At a fire, the truck becomes a command center for fire fighters. They can be in constant communication with each other as well as central dispatch. For added safety, there is a rear-vision camera with a monitor screen located above the driver.
A set of battery-operated rescue tools are stored at the rear of the truck. These tools are specially designed for use at traffic accidents. Their powerful tempered-steel jaws quickly slice through automobile bodies to free trapped accident victims. Formerly, this type of equipment was hydraulically-operated. For that reason, its range was necessarily limited to the length of its hydraulic hoses. Thanks to advanced battery technology, the new equipment can be carried to where it is needed – very important when seconds are precious.
Fitted inside the truck’s numerous exterior compartments are hoses, smoke removal fans, a total of 21 air tanks, and a set of conventional fire-fighting hand tools. Ladders are stored on top of the truck and are lowered in seconds by electrically-operated pivoting arms. A revolving rack holds air tanks at just the right height for fire fighters to quickly strap the tanks to their backs. There’s even a small refrigerated compartment for bottled drinking water – very welcome when you’ve been inside a burning building.
In action, the truck can draw water from either an integral 1,000-gallon tank or from hydrant connections on each side. A 1500 gallon-per-minute pump supplies water to fire hoses as well a powerful discharge nozzle mounted on top of the truck. Flashing red lights, as well as an incredibly loud siren and air-horn warn drivers of the truck’s approach and help clear the way. At the scene of a fire or traffic accident, numerous extra-bright LED lamps can light up the darkest night.
A bank of levers, gauges, and indicator lights control and monitor the truck’s operation. A large, brightly-illuminated gauge allows visual inspection of the truck’s water capacity at a glance. If water capacity drops below a certain level, a loud warning signal will automatically sound.
Everything about the new truck is designed for safe, quick, easy operation, permitting fire fighters to focus on the job at hand. That job is protecting your life and property – which makes them the most important volunteers in our community.
Total cost of Number 88 was $375K. The Town of St. Paul contributed $100K, the St. Paul Volunteer Fire Department contributed $100K, and Virginia USDA Rural Development contributed the balance in the form of a loan/grant. Fire Chief Earl Carter, Fireman Travis Stanley, Town Treasurer Debbie Baca, and Mayor Kyle Fletcher worked tirelessly to obtain this truck for our community. Our local fire fighters deserve the best and safest equipment available, and now they’ve got it.
From the Clinch Valley Times, “THANK YOU” to our volunteer fire fighters and to those who made the new pumper truck a reality.