RENSSELAER — The Rensselaer Volunteer Fire Department pushed its new truck into service during a ceremony Saturday, Nov. 20.
RVFD fire chief Kenny Haun and his firefighters welcomed the arrival of its new truck — an ArrowXT 100-foot ascendant tower truck — on Thursday and officially put the truck in service with a “push-in” ceremony Saturday in front of a small crowd at the fire station.
The “push-in” ceremony dates back more than 100 years before fire trucks were fitted with motors. Instead, fire departments used horse-drawn equipment, which had to be pushed into the station after a call.
“Today, we still celebrate that push-in service whenever there is a new apparatus put into service,” Haun said. “We still celebrate our history by pushing the apparatus into the bay indicating the truck is now in service.”
After a blessing by Reverend Kenin Smith, firefighters positioned themselves in front of the truck while Haun took the wheel. The truck was rolled into its new position on the far west end of the fire station.
The overall height of the truck is 10 feet, 10 inches and its length is 42 feet, 4 inches. It is designed to pump 2,000 gallons of water per minute, features a 300-gallon tank and the ladder can be operational in 26 seconds.
It took the previous truck, which was sold to the Brook Township Fire Department in Brook, Indiana, over two minutes to become operational, Haun said.
The truck is six feet shorter than any traditional mid-mount tower truck. It’s shorter length allows drivers to maneuver it into tight spaces, Haun said.
It features six stabilizers with integrated ground pads and includes a stabilizer camera so that the driver can locate where the outriggers will be placed when pulling up on scene. The ladder provides a 100-foot vertical/93 foot horizontal reach and will scrub at a 50-degree angle with a 20-foot setback when set up near a building.
“Most of the trucks today, that distance is 35 to 40,” Haun said. “We can get this truck in a lot tighter places.”
It can also be operated at a 20-degree below grade angle.
“If we have issues at a pond or some type of rescue situation, the truck will operate normally at 20 degrees below angle,” Haun said.
The ladder, meanwhile, operates smoothly with no jerking as it ascends.
“At 100 foot, that basket does not move,” Haun said. “You can jerk the handles all you want and you will get no side to side motion, which makes it even safer for us.”
The truck has front end and side roll protection with air bags in case of an accident.
The fire department began looking for a new ladder truck in 2017, forming a committee to come up with the exact model it was looking for. Members of the department took five or six trucks on test drives before deciding in 2018 to buy a state-of-the-art, new on the market, Pierce-ascendant fire truck.
“At that time, the cost of the truck was about $1.2 (million),” Haun said.
The department received approval from the city council to purchase a truck in 2018, but the project was put on hold until 2020 due to COVID concerns.
“It took over a year to do the specs and a 10-month build time to build the truck out of Appleton, Wisconsin,” Haun said. “The committee wanted to build the truck that fit the needs of Rensselaer for many years to come. They also wanted to do that without putting any more strain to the taxpayers or the budget. They wanted to keep it at the $1.2, $1.3 range.”
Purchased at around $1.4 million, the truck features original decals on the side doors, on a panel along the side of the truck (to commemorate the department’s 125-year history) and on the back where the ladder and bucket sit.
The side doors feature a Bomber — holding an axe and sporting a fire helmet with 1896, or the year RVFD first went into service, on the front — bursting through a brick wall.
“They wanted something on that truck that represented Rensselaer, and they did that with a Bomber high school logo,” Haun said.
The 911 decal on the back of the truck honors the 343 firefighters who lost their lives battling the fires at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
“The reason we wanted this truck is it’s a game changer for our fire service,” Haun said.