By Elaine Van Develde
If all goes according to plan, in about a year, the Fair Haven Fire Department will have a new $500,000 piece of equipment to be the first of trucks to respond to the scene of a blaze — a Pierce pumper.
The pumper will replace a 1981 pumper that “is still running hard,” Mayor Ben Lucarelli said, but is not completely OSHA compliant, or up-to-date.
State safety statue requires that, since 1991, all firemen ride inside the cab of the truck and have a safe, enclosed place of refuge in which to retreat on the scene to escape, for example, toxic chemicals emitted from a fire. Fair Haven complies, but there’s just not as much room in the 1981 truck or efficiency.
The new Pierce pumper can seat eight in its cab. The days of hanging off the back or side of the truck while rolling onto the scene are long gone, Lucarelli said.
No decision has been made on which of the remaining three working apparatus, if at all, will be retired, donated, sold or kept.
And, the decision is not one that needs to be made any time soon, if at all, Fair Haven Council President Jonathan Peters said at Monday night’s Borough Council meeting when introducing the bond ordinance authorizing the funding of the new truck. “The cost to keep them is actually minimal,” Peters said. “And we certainly don’t want to buy another truck sooner than later.”
While some may criticize Fair Haven for “spending another half a million dollars, they need to realize that the last (quad) truck bought replaced the 1954 American LaFrance (quad) truck, and this (pumper) is replacing one bought in the 1980s,” Lucarelli said. “It’s cyclical; and it just makes sense.”
The last truck that was purchased, to replace the now retired 1954 American LaFrance quad, was a 2008 quad — a truck that brings four essentials, ladders, hoses, pumps and water tanks to the scene of a fire for firefighters.
Then there is a 1975 Mack quad that was refurbished in 1990; and the 1981 Pierce pumper that will be replaced or augmented by the new pumper truck.
While the pumper is the first on the scene of a fire, the quad ladder trucks, as opposed to aerial trucks used in some fire companies, get the hook and ladder equipment up and working, Lucarelli explained.
“It’s just a matter of different firefighting culture,” he said. “While some towns have the big aerials that go over the top of a fire, cut a hole (in the roof) water is blasted in, Fair Haven goes in the front door (and on the roof when they need to), inside and fight the fire.”
Administrator Theresa Casagrande commended former Fair Haven Fire Department Chief Derek DeBree for his help in keeping officials well-informed on the particulars of the purchase.
The ordinance to release the funds is scheduled for public hearing and adoption at the next council meeting. The first step, upon approval, will be to release a $24,000 deposit.