Fire grant will have added benefit

Friday, August 19, 2005

Quicker response times, greater safety and lower insurance rates are just a few of the benefits which will result from the $452,116 matching grant which the McCook Fire Department received to purchase a new aerial truck.

"The McCook Fire Department is a very happy place right now," said Fire Chief Marc Harpham. "This is the largest grant we have ever received and it came in the first round of consideration."

The grant will allow the purchase of a new, state-of-the-art piece of firefighting equipment. The new truck will have a 75-foot ladder and a 1,500 gallon per minute pump. Once it arrives, the new truck will provide quicker response time and greater maneuverability, Chief Harpham said.

Besides the 75-foot ladder and large pumping capacity, the new truck will also carry several ground and extension ladders.

The truck which will be replaced is a 1977 Sutphen. It is also an aerial truck, with an 85-foot reach, but the fire chief said that is deceptive. "The new 75-foot aerial will have as tall, if not taller, nozzle level," he said. That's because of how the aerials are built. The new one will be a more efficiently designed ladder which can be operated by two firefighters: one on the ladder and one of the truck.

The old truck's aerial equipment requires five people to operate it, making it a more cumbersome and slower process. "With the '77 Sutphen, it takes between three and five minutes to get the aerial in operation. With the 2005 truck, it will take a minute or less," Chief Harpham said.

The truck to be purchased will be the second vehicle acquired by the fire department this year. The other is a 2005 E-1 pumper mounted on an International chassis. It is the department's "first out" unit, meaning it responds to major structure and motor vehicle fires. In addition to a 1,500-gallon per minute pump, the E-1 carries 20 gallons of firefighting foam and extrication devices for motor vehicle accidents. "We used to carry the extrication equipment in the ambulance, but it was too heavy a load for that," the chief said.

"With the new trucks and the improvements to McCook's water system, we're hoping for a lower ISO rating for McCook, which would lead to lower insurance rates," the fire chief said. McCook currently has a 6 rating, which is pretty good, but Harpham said with the improvements, the ISO rating could be even better.

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