Salem firefighters eager to try out new platform truck

SALEM – Salem’s new 102-foot platform fire truck arrived at the station Monday afternoon, full of bells and whistles and features to increase the department’s safety and life-saving capabilities.

“We’re definitely happy to have it,” Fire Chief Jeff Hughes said.

Hughes said the KME Kovach AerialCat creates “a whole new ball game in how we operate.”

This will be the department’s first platform-style truck and at more than 47 feet long with an overall height of 12 feet, it definitely becomes the largest in the fleet. A concrete wall had to be moved and reconstructed inside the station for the truck to fit.

Hughes has been talking about the need for a new ladder truck for a few

years now, unsuccessfully applying for a grant as a means to make a purchase which had been originally estimated at nearly $1 million.

Upon delivery by Warren Fire Equipment sales representative Ray Capezzuto, city Auditor Betty Brothers handed over a check for $850,000 to cover the agreed-upon price of the demo truck built in November 2011. The deal includes a two-year bumper-to-bumper warranty.

The city borrowed up to $375,000 from the Utilities Department, with the remaining $475,000 coming from the capital improvement fund.

“I give Betty credit for being so diligent in helping to get the truck,” Hughes said.

Mayor John Berlin and city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst helped negotiate the deal with the company, while Brothers found a way to legally borrow from Utilities. The city will make payments on the loan to the Utilities Department and all interest paid will stay with the Utilities Department.

Capezzuto said the truck includes a lot of safety features and options by virtue of it being a demo the company used as a sales tool to show off that type of truck’s capabilities.

The aerial device or ladder can go both up and down for rescue situations, with an elevation range which goes from minus 10 degrees (below grade) to plus 80 degrees in the air. The platform can hold up to 1,000 pounds and can withstand up to 50 mph winds and a quarter inch of ice. The truck can hold up to 300 gallons of water, but has a capacity to pump 2,000 gallons of water per minute, which is 500 gallons a minute more than the current ladder truck, which does not have a bucket or platform.

Other features include front and side airbags, a hydraulic generator, a backup camera, computer monitoring and a federal signal LED lighting package.

The department’s current 75-foot ladder truck, which is more than 23 years old and has been having maintenance issues, will be auctioned off online, but will remain in service until the new truck is ready to go.

Hughes said some equipment had to be ordered for the new truck. Once firefighters install their tools and equipment, the new equipment arrives and they’re all trained, the new vehicle known as Truck 4 will go into service and Truck 11 will be retired. A factory rep will spend three days with the firefighters going over all the controls and also spend some time with the city mechanic.

The gold lettering for the SFD symbol on the truck resembles the symbol on an old Pirsch ladder truck the department used to have a long time ago.