Smithville volunteer firefighters have long wanted an aerial (ladder) truck and for the last few days they've had one. While its only a demo model and doesn't belong to the city, Fire Chief Charlie Parker told WJLE that it's the kind of truck Smithville really needs.
City firefighters gave the truck a test run on Saturday, setting up at various places in town where such a vehicle could best be used and extending the 75 foot ladder to reach taller buildings and hard to get to structures and roof tops. Firefighters took the truck out again Tuesday night to Northside Elementary School
Chief Parker said the demo truck will be leaving town this week but he is hopeful that a grant, for which the city has applied, will be awarded soon so that the city could get financial assistance to purchase an aerial truck for the fire department to serve the citizens of Smithville. "It's a demo truck that's actually passing through from EVS Mid South Company. Its passing through Tennessee so we managed to get it for a few days here in Smithville. We've been trying it out at different places around the city to see how it will best fit our needs. We've been trying to purchase a ladder truck for a while. We've got a Firefighters Assistance Grant that we've applied for. We did a study last spring. We've looked at two or three different sizes of trucks but we've determined that a 75 foot aerial device best suits our needs. Its not going to fit on 100% of the calls but we feel that with the population in the city and the number of firefighters we have to utilize, we believe it will be a best fit for us on residential and commercial fires. We have a lot more residential fires than commercial but this size truck will fit with one story and two story houses. A 75 foot ladder will give us a pretty good reach. It also has a 1,750 gallon per minute pump on it so we've got a pretty good amount of water supply for a fire. This particular truck has a 1,500 hundred gallon a minute nozzle on it which can be remotely operated from the base of the truck so you don't have to put a firefighter in danger. It provides a pretty good amount of water in an elevated stream so we can get it up to a two story house or the roof area when you really need water up high. The demo price on this truck is around $680,000 on a brand new truck. The grant process is underway. They've been awarding grants since December. They award them periodically until the grant money runs out. We have applied for a grant to buy a truck and for some additional equipment. We're hoping to hear something any time," said Chief Parker.
"I do want to say thanks to Wink Brown and EVS Mid South for allowing us to use the demo truck for a day or two. I know they're trying to sell trucks but its been a big asset to our department to let our city council see the truck up close and the capabilities and safety benefits of this truck so we just want to express our appreciation to them for allowing us to bring it to town for a few days," said Chief Parker.
Last June, the aldermen voted to hire a grant writer to seek a federal matching grant for the purchase of a ladder truck. If approved, the city would have to match five percent of the cost.