Harrison Gets Brand New Fire Truck
Fire Chief Shows Off New Equipment
By Dianne Alward-Biery
Cleaver Staff Writer
Copyright Clare County Cleaver
HARRISON – The Harrison Community Fire Department’s new fire truck has been much anticipated since it’s purchase was first approved at the Nov. 20, 2017 Harrison City Council meeting. The truck is a combination pumper and tanker built by Freightliner as a demonstration vehicle intended for display at the Midwest Fire Rescue Expo. As such, the company included several things which otherwise would have been considered optional, i.e., chromed bezels around lights and the white paint on the cab roof.
Chief Chris Damvelt picked up the truck Thursday, and Friday morning he pulled it out of the HCFD garage to show off its many features. The first feature he pointed out was the telescoping light tower that rises from the roof to illuminate the site – looking a bit like a fire truck with a periscope.
“Our other one has a light tower, too, but this is a battery-operated one,” Damvelt said. “The other one you have to have a generator for, but this one runs off a 12-volt system.”
Damvelt also said the other truck’s light tower is bright due to its halogen lights, but the new one with its bright LED lights uses less energy.
He also noted that although the new truck is marked “Engine 1” and is replacing the former Engine 1, it is actually a dual duty truck.
“It’s a 2,000-gallon tank where the other truck was a 1,000-gallon tank,” Damvelt said. “It has a 1,500 gallon per minute pump and a dump valve on the back, where we can use it as a tanker too.”
He said it also will haul hoses, some of which are housed on top of the truck.
“We’ll have around a thousand feet of 5-inch hose,” Damvelt said. “That’s what we use to hook up to hydrants – the big yellow stuff – and 2 ½-inch hose up there also.”
Even the ladders have enclosed storage to keep them out of the elements.
When on the site of a fire, crew members will set up a drop tank for holding water [akin to a portable swimming pool]. That tank is cumbersome and heavy. Damvelt demonstrated the powered drop-down shelf from which that tank kit can be easily deployed.
“Work smarter, not harder,” he said.
Damvelt also pointed out the hose shelves which pull out for easy swap out after returning from a fire. Slide out the shelves of dirty hose, slide in the clean set of shelved hose and the truck is ready to go for the next run.
“And it’s made in Michigan,” Damvelt said, pointing to the map artwork on the truck’s rear driver’s side.
“Yeah, I think we’re going to be happy with it, I really do,” he said. “
Damvelt said the truck was built in a shorter time than it usually takes, because it was produced for the show.
“It would probably take about a year,” he said. “It was built for the show so they stepped it up a lot.”
Damvelt also reiterated the cost-effectiveness of purchasing the combined truck for $357,491 rather than replacing both a tanker and a pumper which at full retail new would have had a combined cost in the neighborhood of $900,000.
“All told, this truck actually could replace two trucks,” he said.
The engine being replaced is 25 years old, and it was definitely time for replacement, as the industry standard for a fire engine’s life expectancy is 25 years.
Damvelt went on to point out more features of the truck, including a variety of safety features such as a pull-down step ladder at the back of the truck rather than multiple flip-out steps. The truck has storage for multiple hose sizes, and a platform behind the cab from which one person can control the pumps and have the ability to directly see what is going on.
Damvelt said on a lot of trucks the pump controls are on one side of the truck, and the hose connection on the other, necessitating an additional person to verbally relay what was needed.
“When he stands up there, he can see what’s going on and has a bird’s-eye view of everything,” the chief said.
The new truck also has hose reels, something not found on the department’s other trucks.
“Not that we’d fight a lot of fire with them, but you could use them for a grass fire or for when we’re all done and have a hot spot,” Damvelt said.
The new truck also has more storage that the pumper it is replacing.
Another safety feature is a back-up camera.
“It also has a microphone back there,” Damvelt said.
That can have huge value on a fire scene with lots of trucks running.
“So if somebody yells ‘Stop’ you can hear them,” Damvelt said. “And this is a pretty quiet truck.”