The Town of Vermilion purchased a Rosenbauer 104’ Cobra Platform fire truck from Rocky Mountain Phoenix out of Red Deer for $1.4 million and it showed up on Thursday.
After a two-year process designing it specifically to fit their needs, the Vermilion Fire Department (VFD) was excited to pull the truck into the hall and get it ready for service.
They originally made the deal in Indianapolis at the International Fire Conference, but got the truck out of Red Deer.
Sales Manager, Jay Elliott, and Sales Representative, Dale Savostianik, were the dealers who delivered it to Vermilion.
“These guys were super easy to work with,” said Vermilion Fire Chief, Bill Roth.
“This was the best bang for our buck and it fit our needs. It will be a front line fire truck (the first truck out of the hall) and will likely be in service for 25 years.”
The quint (equipt with a ladder and a pump) truck is a tandem axle and has hydraulic levelling equipment for when in uneven areas in order to keep the height balanced. The 104’ ladder also has a basket to allow easier rescue, meaning firefighters would not have to carry any potential victims down the ladder.
There is room for five firefighters on the truck, and they can also operate it remotely from the ground if they need to.
In anticipation for the arrival of this truck, Roth sent some of his firefighters to get their aerial certification. He said members of the VFD all have a lot of certification and experience, each with a minimum level 1 or 2.
They only have 30 firefighters and can’t have other people do their work, so he said he made the call to close their in-house gym to avoid potential COVID.
Because of the pandemic, he expects getting familiar with this truck will require a six-week training process for firefighters every night.
He can currently only train three or four at a time and plans to train 15 members on this truck. Not everybody runs the trucks and he said Captain, Tom Hartwell, will be responsible for this one.
Multiple case scenarios justify why they need this ladder including the presence of dangerous goods, CN, and grain elevators in the community.
“This truck has the capability to reach any building in town — for example, condos or hotels, but more importantly it’s about firefighter safety. One firefighter fell from a height last year, and luckily it was without injury,” said Roth.
“Now I’m not putting guys on ladders on roofs anymore. Rescue work and fighting fire will be done with this ladder.”
He said Emergency Services has to change with the times because they don’t do things like they did five, ten, or twenty years ago. With the amount of calls they receive, he said they have to both take care of the town and the guys working for them.
“For me as a chief, to keep my people safe is huge. We put them in harm’s way every time we get a call. Our legislation is constantly changing and this is a measure to keep us safer and gives us the ability to go in and do more,” said Roth.
The VFD receives approximately 65 per cent of their calls for motor vehicle collisions, and the rest are fire calls, with a few for false alarms and dangerous goods.
Members aimed to make the new truck fully operational the same day in case they needed it for a call. This involved loading the truck with hoses, fire and rescue equipment including jaws of life, breaching tools, firefighting foam so they can fight class B fires, hand tools, nozzles, adapters, and breathing apparatus.
The department’s economic development angle was replacing a 20-year-old fire truck that will be transferred as a maintenance vehicle to the town.
CAO George Rogers said they can’t get a lot of dollars on a sale from it, so they opted to create better value by finding another use for it within the town. Mayor Caroline McAuley said it will be used to help water plants and flood the outdoor rink.
“Wow, this has been on our books for quite a long time — and it’s critical,” said Mayor Caroline McAuley.
“It will provide safety to our firefighters on the ground, and they will be able to fight fires from above which will save time as well.”
“The efficiency will provide great value to our community,” said Rogers.
“I want to commend our fire chief and his team for their expertise and working with the designers. This is a volunteer department, and we can’t thank them enough.”