BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Driving by the Fort Madison Fire Department in the past few days, residents would see the newest addition to the department, a new pumper truck that will replace the old 9411 that tipped over into some backwaters south of Fort Madison.
Firefighters are in the middle of training with the truck, which was purchased from Alexis Fire Equipment Co., out of Alexis, Illinois, for about $600,000 when the truck and equipment that was damaged in the tipover, are all figured in. The city’s insurance carrier picked up all but about $70,000 of the cost.
As part of the replacement the department upgraded some of the equipment that was lost including going to battery-powered extrication, or JAWS, tools.
“We’re still doing complete training on the pump capabilities,” said Lieutenant Chad Hannum. “We’re also doing lots of driver training. Probably upwards of 20 hours per guy before we put it in service. It may not be 20 hours each, but they need to be proficient.”
He said Chief Joey Herren would have the final say on when the truck is put into service, but he said a company will be coming in to help with pump training.
The truck features state-of-the-art pump technology, an onboard driver-assist computer and metaling cribbing assists which help support weight during emergency extraction.
“This truck is designed to be an engine, which in our terms means it pumps at fires, but it’s also designed for rescue as well. Rescue entails confined space, high angle, automobile extrication so we’re going to have a lot of tools on here,” Hannum said.
The unit will also feature a front bumper line to allow the truck to roll up close on auto fires. On the back of the truck is “Rescue Mater” from the Cars movie. Hannum said the new firefighters wanted a newer character on the truck because newer generations don’t know who Yosemite Sam is.
Hannum said the cab is roomier and has headsets for easier communication in loud situations and the engineer in the truck can keep the headset on to help with communication in the field.