Grand Forks Fire Rescue eyeing new engine

Grand Forks Fire Rescue is looking to purchase a new fire engine to replace the department’s older vehicle.
Dale Heriot, Grand Forks Fire Rescue chief, noted that the new fire engine would be replacing an older engine by next year.
“We are looking to replace our current fire engine truck by the end of 2013,” he explained. “As a fire department, when we purchase equipment we don’t purchase it for where we are today, we purchase it for what we figure will happen 20 years down the road because they last us 20-plus years.”
Heriot is hoping to have a fire engine ordered sometime next year because it takes up to a year to custom build each fire engine.
“It’s not like a car lot where you can just pick one up, most times you have to order them and they build them to your specifications,” he added. “We are looking at replacing our current ladder truck with a 100-foot (about 30.5 metres) ladder truck.”
Part of the reason the Grand Forks Fire Rescue is looking at a ladder truck is due to the possibility of a developing city.
As the area continues to grow, Heriot pointed out that there might be a chance of the population doubling within the next 20 years.
“We have to speculate this way because if we didn’t and it did double, and we’re not prepared for it, we can’t protect the community properly,” Heriot said.
Another reason has to do with Roxul Inc.’s expansion and Interfor upgrading its facilities. The 30.5-metre ladder would allow the firefighters to reach a higher elevation for a water stream to protect the facilities.
At the moment, the tallest ladder the fire department has is 15 metres long, so the additional height of the ladder is also being considered for its added reach.
“The new Silver Kettle Village is a big development and for us to manage a rescue, we need to be able to reach into some of those third storey balconies to get people,” explained Heriot. “With anything shorter, it will be really tough to get into there when you take into account landscaping and everything else.”
The new fire engine would include a platform ladder, as opposed to a regular ladder. A platform ladder has a basket-like box attached to the top of the ladder, that also provides better stability for firefighters when rescuing someone from a building.
“What we currently have is an aerial ladder, so only one person can climb up it,” Heriot pointed out. “We feel with the amount of seniors that we have in the community, it’s pretty hard to get a senior out of a burning building and climb down our current ladder. If we had a platform with a basket, we could just step them into the basket and bring them down. It’s much safer for everybody.”
Despite the plans for a new fire engine, the price of the fire engine is still under discussion.
“The reason why the price is still up in the air is because it depends on what size of a truck you’re going to get and what other options you get on the truck,” said Heriot. “The price can go anywhere from $700,000 to $1 million, but it’s all dependent. It’s also dependent on taxpayers.”
The fire department hasn’t asked the city for money yet, as planning for the new fire engine is still underway.
Mayor Brian Taylor believes the new fire engine will be a great asset to the city.
“It looks like an expensive investment by the city and frankly we don’t have enough in reserves to cover it so we’ll have to look into other sources,” said Taylor. “The purchase of the new fire engine is also a matter of primary responsibility of safety to the city.”
Taylor also agreed with Heriot that the new ladder would be helpful for newer buildings like the Silver Kettle Village.
Heriot noted that at this point it will be fully funded by the city, but they do have an agreement with Rural Fire Protection District.
The Rural Fire Protection District was created in 1957 and asked city firefighters to operate outside of city boundaries. Rural Grand Forks created their own fire rescue group in 1979, but both the city and rural teams were amalgamated in 2006.
“Ultimately, it really is up to the taxpayers and what they want,” he concluded.
Grand Forks Fire Rescue currently has six fire engines, with 11 apparatuses that include water tenders and other equipment. There are five fire halls spread throughout Grand Forks and the rural area.
The new fire engine would include a platform ladder as opposed to a regular ladder. A platform ladder has a basket-like box attached to the top of the ladder, that also provides better stability for firefighters when rescuing someone from a building.
“What we currently have is an aerial ladder, so only one person can climb up it,” Heriot pointed out. “We feel with the amount of seniors that we have in the community, it’s pretty hard to get a senior out of a burning building and climb down our current ladder. If we had a platform with a basket, we could just step them into the basket and bring them down. It’s much safer for everybody.”
Despite the plans for a new fire engine, the price of the fire engine is still under discussion.
“The reason why the price is still up in the air is because it depends on what size of a truck you’re going to get and what other options you get on the truck,” said Heriot. “The price can go anywhere from $700,000 to $1 million, but it’s all dependent. It’s also dependent on taxpayers.”
The fire department hasn’t asked the city for money yet, as planning for the new fire engine is still underway.
Mayor Brian Taylor believes the new fire engine will be a great asset to the city.
“It looks like an expensive investment by the city and frankly we don’t have enough in reserves to cover it so we’ll have to look into other sources,” said Taylor, who added long-term leasing would be the city’s first choice.  “The purchase of the new fire engine is also a matter of primary responsibility of safety to the city.”
Taylor also agreed with Heriot that the new ladder would be helpful for newer buildings like the Silver Kettle Village.
Heriot noted that at this point, it appears it will be fully funded by the city but the situation is under negotiation with the Rural Fire Protection District. The Rural Fire Protection District was created in 1957 and asked city firefighters to operate outside of city boundaries. Rural Grand Forks created their own fire rescue group in 1979, but both the city and rural teams were amalgamated in 2006.
“Ultimately, it really is up to the taxpayers and what they want,” he concluded.
Grand Forks Fire Rescue currently has six fire engines, with 11 apparatuses that include water tenders and other equipment. There are five fire halls spread throughout Grand Forks and the rural area.

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