OTTAWA LAKE — Whiteford Township’s new fire and rescue truck is “99 percent in service now,” fire chief Brad Beck said.
The chief said he was waiting for nozzles and hoses that were on order, but has pulled some from other trucks so the new equipment can be used on runs.
“It’s our first-out [vehicle] on PI [personal injury] and wildland fires,” he explained. “We needed another off-road brush firefighting truck, but we also needed a heavy rescue engine. Plus we had a lot of equipment we couldn’t even carry with us because there was no room in our trucks.”
The new truck — a four-door, four-wheel drive International — was built in Ocala, Fla., and delivered to Ottawa Lake Fire and Rescue in May.
Its price was $368,147, paid from funds generated by the township’s 1-mill fire levy. Equipment add-ons raised the total cost to almost $400,000, Chief Beck said.
Township Supervisor Walt Ruhl acknowledged this was a lot of money for a small community like his, but emphasized no borrowed funds were used.
“We paid cash,” he said. “We have a millage for fire protection, and we saved until we had the money to buy what the firemen requested.”
The new truck is an addition to the township fleet, bringing it up to five trucks at the stations in Ottawa Lake and on Whiteford Center Road. It is housed at Station 1 in Ottawa Lake. The township has 15 firefighters.
With a 750-gallon water tank, the new truck significantly enhances the department’s ability to fight field fires, the chief said.
“We have a lot of wheat and cornfield fires when things get dry,” he explained. “The Fourth of July brings them out, when people use fireworks. They’re also started by people burning trash, and arson, which is one of our biggest factors.”
The department responds to a lot of a crashes on U.S. 223, and the truck’s equipment includes a new hydraulic cutter for extracting accident victims from wrecks.
The truck, with a four-person cab, has rear-mounted controls for its water and communications. This improves safety by allowing the operator to see traffic coming.
Contact Carl Ryan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6095.