Worthington Fire Department receives new tanker truck
The days of struggling to drive an old, homemade, top-heavy hulk of a tanker to rural fire scenes are over for the Worthington Fire Department.
A new, shiny red, 3,000-gallon Firovac tanker with a vacuum tank has arrived at the station and the firefighters have spent extra hours training to use it.
But there's more good news. The days of worrying about their safety when they strap on a SCBA (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus) are over too.
Fourteen new SCBA packs have also arrived -- made possible by a long-awaited FEMA grant.
Fire Chief Kyle Steward said they had applied for the federal equipment grant more than once and when it finally came through, there was enough money to buy another piece of equipment they have needed for years -- a thermal imaging camera.
"The total cost of the equipment was $96,554," said Steward. "Of that amount, $91,727 was federal money and the rest was a five percent match paid with fire department funds that we already had budgeted."
Steward said the cost of just one camera is high, around $9,000, but approximately three-quarters of the departments in Greene County do have one.
Firefighter Kyle Koons said the camera allows firefighters to detect heat and detect the temperature of a room.
"It lets us see through the smoke, to find the fire (burning in a wall or ceiling), and to find a person," said Koons.
Steward said the department is very appreciative to finally add the camera to its equipment arsenal and it is long overdue for the SCBA replacements.
"The ones we had are approximately 20 years old and the bottles had reached the end of their lifespan," said Steward.
Among the new items is another welcome piece of equipment to test face masks to make sure they fit each individual firefighter properly.
The equipment package arrived at the Worthington fire station on the heels of the new tanker.
The truck was ordered from Firovac, an Ohio company that specializes in vacuum tankers "designed by firefighters for firefighters" and also designed with the problems of rural fire departments in mind.
Steward said it comes with numerous standard safety features including electronic stability control, seat belt sensors and a striping package on the back end to insure high visibility.
The price tag was $225,000. The Worthington Fire Territory paid $150,000 toward the price out of a cumulative fund of money that Jefferson Township has been saving for years -- for just this purpose. The balance is financed.
The new truck carries portable pools, can pull water from shallow sources, and it's capable of filling and dispensing water at a rapid rate.
The truck replaces a tanker that was made by the department several years ago. Though it was colorful -- red with bright yellow flames covering the tank, Steward said it was overweight and dangerous.
"The old tanker had a 15-speed transmission and was top-heavy," said Steward. "Some of our guys didn't feel comfortable driving it. This new tanker is a big improvement and everyone has been trained. This should be a 25-30 year truck."
All totaled, the department is now operating with over $300,000 worth of new equipment, including the tanker, acquired this summer.
Steward said he hopes the new additions will boost the ISO rating of the areas served by the department which includes the town of Worthington, and all of Jefferson and Smith Townships. The department also responds to some calls from Wright Township.
Steward said the additions have boosted morale at the department and should be welcome news for everyone living in the department's service area.
"There are several people we all need to thank including the Worthington Town Council, Clerk-Treasurer Gloria Klass and Council President Hal Harp for all the support they've given the department," said Steward.
"And we all want to give special thanks and recognition to Mike Steward, the Jefferson Township Trustee, for understanding our need for this truck, and also former Trustee Herman Klass. And the other members of the Worthington Fire Territory Board -- Smith Township Trustee Terry Blanton, Charles Strickler, Jim Stahl, Macky Stahl, Craig Reel and Tom Shelton. They have all stepped up with an interest, in helping us operate efficiently and safely, and in making sure we have the equipment we need to do the job."