A fire truck recently donated to the Hotchkiss Fire District is providing more safety and a greater ability to respond to emergencies than the unit it replaces.
HFD Ladder 1, a 1990 Pierce Arrow, was donated to the district by the Colorado River Fire Rescue in Garfield County. According to HFD Fire Chief Doug Fritz, it has a 475-HP Detroit Diesel engine, 50-foot TeleSquirt, and a Federal Q-siren. Its two-stage pump has a 1,500-gallons-per-minute capacity.
It also has 360-degree LED emergency lights, vehicle stabilization struts, state of the art Hurst battery-operated extrication tools, lift airbags, and a trauma kit; seven ladders, Res Q Jacks, Paratech Rescue air bags, 700 feet of rescue rope, and forward and rear dash cameras.
As for handling, "The truck drives like brand new," said Fritz. "It's easy to handle."
Ladder 1 is also capable of carrying four firefighters, more than the truck it replaces, and provides better safety for firefighters once they are on the scene of an emergency, said Fritz. As an added bonus, the "great, smooth-working aerial ladder will help us enormously on structure fires, and the unit pumps work extraordinarily well."
"While the unit was in good shape, we used district funds to update it and outfit it to our needs," added Fritz. Among the upgrades, Watson Hopper in Delta painted the formerly lime-yellow unit fire engine red, installed a Jake Brake to allow the truck to descend the Hotchkiss Grade safely, and fabricated a new bumper.
Firefighters put hundreds of hours of work into the unit, cleaning every inch of it, installing new tires, a siren and air horns, and applying lettering, stripes and chevrons to the newly-painted surface. They also repaired seals and valves on the pump, converted some of the scene lighting from 120-volt halogen to 12-volt LED lights, and rebuilt shelving and mounting in the compartments to improve storage and accessibility to rescue gear.
The truck it replaced was decommissioned and salvaged for "all sorts of parts," said Fritz.
The district is working hard to train firefighters to drive the Ladder 1 to emergencies like car wrecks, and is holding separate training operations on the operation of the aerial ladder and pump, said Fritz.
According to Fritz, Ladder 1 went out on its first call, a single-car rollover on Highway 92 near Bulldog Street, about 10 hours after going into service.