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Grinnell Fire Department purchases new $875,000 truck

The Grinnell Fire Department purchased this new ladder truck with the help of the City, Grinnell College and donations. Photo by Andrew Tucker.

The Grinnell Fire Department recently purchased a brand-new ladder truck from Fire Safety USA in Rochester, MN. This new ladder truck will replace their previous one, which has been in service for the past 27 years — well past the National Fire Protection Association’s recommended lifespan of 20 years.

According to Fire Chief Dan Sicard, “The city has been saving money over the last 20-25 years, putting aside $325,000, and the college contributed $100,000 towards the purchase of the truck. The cost of the truck itself is $875,000. We [put] the down payment and the rest was bonded through the city which we will be paying off for the next 10 years.”

Sicard also addressed the multiple upgrades to the ladder truck that will not only make working conditions safer but also decrease the limitations to their services.

The new ladder truck will have a maximum aerial reach of 100 feet as opposed to the previous 75 feet, which, Sicard said, is “not necessarily the height that you have to reach in a building, but you have to have the reach, because you’re often not going to park right next to the building and go straight up. You’re going to have to park a ways away and go at an angle. … [With] the dorms and apartments that we have in town, our 75 foot aerial came up short in several places. The 100 feet [aerial] gives us a little better ability to reach the windows on the third floor and fourth floors in the areas that we might need it.”

As one can imagine, after 27 years of technological developments the new ladder truck is also equipped with some features that weren’t around in the early 90s, such as LED lighting. According to Sicard, “Now in the middle of the night you get a fire call, everything is lit up well — the ladder truck itself, up the ladder — there is LED strip lighting the whole way. Our safety is increased greatly just because of all the lighting we got. It’s pretty neat.”

Furthermore, Sicard expressed his gratitude for the new riding compartment for the firefighters, which is an enclosed cabin and much safer than when they were riding in the open-air compartment.

Despite already making the purchase, a couple of tasks need to be completed prior to the big rig debut.

“It’s still not quite in service yet. We have training coming from the manufacturer two weekends from now. Once we’ve had that, we’ll get it out there in the public. We’re debating whether or not we will have some type of ceremony, they call it a ‘pushing-in ceremony’ where we simulate pushing the truck into the station, but we still haven’t decided,” Sicard said.

In addition, volunteers for the Grinnell Fire Department are still raising funds to reach the projected price of $75,000 for equipment slated to go on the new truck. Fortunately, annual auctions, dances and other fundraisers have helped to get the budget to only about $10,000 to $15,000 short of their goal.

As for the old truck, Sicard said, “The old truck itself is actually going to stay as a reserve piece of equipment. It has pump and a ladder, and we have a reserve pumper at the airport. The pump at the airport is no longer serviceable, so it’s going to move down to the airport.”

Sicard said he appreciates the community’s support, and stated, “There’s a lot of towns our size that may not have a ladder truck, and we are also about 45 minutes away from the next ladder truck. So it’s a long ways away. This truck is obviously up for grabs for anyone in Poweshiek County if they need it.”

Looking forward to new projects that the Grinnell Fire Department are planning, Sicard said, “We have two trucks that are looking pretty close to being within the realm in which they should start being replaced. We are going to be hosting the Iowa Fire Association Convention in both 2020 and 2021 and that’s going to be our big fundraiser that we will hopefully be able to set aside money for one of those trucks.”

The Grinnell Fire Department purchased this new ladder truck with the help of the City, Grinnell College and donations. Photo by Andrew Tucker.
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