City commission authorizes new ladder truck

By Alyssa Sperrazza, News Editor

The Shawnee Fire Department will now have a new ladder truck to ensure extra safety measures. / Preston Morris, The Bison 

Christmas came a little late for the Shawnee Fire Department. They’re going to have to wait to get their gift for another year, but it is anticipated to be worth it.

The City Commission authorized the purchase of a brand new ladder truck for the Shawnee Fire Department, and it is expected to arrive in 2018.

“It will be our main ladder, our main truck engine for downtown,” Fire Chief Dru Tischer said.

“And then we’ll plan on taking the current truck, which is a 2004 model and we’re going to take it to station three on MacArthur. So that way we’ll have an aerial device close to the university, close to the big lot retail area by the highway.”

The purchase of a new truck was something the city commission found worthy of funding.  The new Pierce PUC Pumber truck will cost $657,102.

“My impression or opinion was that the city must keep up with the equipment and vehicle needs of our fire department,” City Commissioner, Lesa Shaw said.

“The upgrades are necessary so that the City may effectively and efficiently meet the service capacity demands of our community.”

The purchase of such a big piece of equipment is not taken lightly, and the city commission considered the effects of a new truck for both now and in the future.

“When I vote on these types of actions I generally consider several factors,” Shaw said.

— Will this action item assist our community and promote safety and security to those providing the service?

— Will it meet future needs?

— Will it enhance services being provided within the community?

— And is this an item that we have budgeted and/or planned for?

The truck’s ladder extends more than thirty feet from the current one at the station, helping the department reach taller buildings easier.

“The current ladder that we have is 75 foot high ladder, and the one that we’re purchasing is 107 foot so it’ll give us another 32 feet in reach,” Tischer said.

“Since 2004, they’ve made a lot of progress in the speed in which you can set up a truck like that. The biggest drawback with the truck we have now is just the height.”

The Shawnee Fire Department covers a wide area in the county so having a truck that will work more efficiently is welcomed.

“We cover roughly 40 square miles of the interior city limits,” Tischer said, “but we also cover another additional 70 square miles outside the city limits.”

The cost of the truck was also taken into consideration, with the new truck being custom made in Wisconsin.

“It will be paid for through a bond and thereby is a planned cost that is viable,” Shaw said.

“The ladder trucks were in need of replacement. They will assist our community and promote safety and security to those operating them and to the community at large.”

The decision for a new truck is not a recent endeavor, but has been an ongoing discussion.

“It’s been something we’ve talked about for a long time,” Tischer said. “Just like any fire department or organization, staffing is tough.  We have to spread ourselves as thin as possible. So when we buy our trucks, we try to make them into a kind of Swiss army knife.”

A Swiss army knife indeed, this truck is planning to be utilized to meet multiple needs in the community, to put the money spent to its best possible use.

“We try to get the most use out of [the truck] because we have so many different needs within the community,” Tischer said.   

The new truck is anticipated to arrive this time next year, giving the community something in which to look forward.

It will be welcomed in full firestation tradition with a wetdown ceremony where the fire station douses the newly arrived truck with water.  The Shawnee Fire Department is looking foward to its arrival.

“It’s a custom-built truck being built in Wisconsin so we’re still about a year out,” Tischer said. “But we’re really looking forward to it.”

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