Hur­lock fire depart­ment awaits new lad­der truck

Dorchester Star - - Regional - By KATIE WIL­LIS kwillis@star­dem.com Fol­low me on Twit­ter @kwillis_s­tar­dem.

HUR­LOCK — The Hur­lock Fire Depart­ment re­cently up­dated the town on the cur­rent sta­tus of the fire com­pany, as well as the sta­tus of a new lad­der truck, which is ex­pected to be de­liv­ered this May.

Af­ter the de­liv­ery of the new lad­der truck, the Hur­lock Fire Depart­ment plans to host an open house, as well as a ded­i­ca­tion for the truck.

Ac­cord­ing to Brian Tol­ley, vice pres­i­dent of Hur­lock Fire Depart­ment, the depart­ment is re­plac­ing its 1994 Si­mon Du­plex tower truck, which cur­rently is still in ser­vice for the fire com­pany, with a new 101-foot Rosen­bauer Co­bra aerial plat­form tower truck.

Tol­ley said the truck is be­ing con­structed just north of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and is about 85 per­cent com­plete. He said mem­bers of the Hur­lock Fire Depart­ment will be trav­el­ing to South Dakota around April 1 for a mid­point in­spec­tion of the truck.

The to­tal cost of the truck is $974,000, which is be­ing 75 per­cent fi­nanced through a low-in­ter­est, 1 per­cent loan ap­proved last year through the Mary­land State Fire­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion, Tol­ley said.

He said the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture is fi­nanc­ing the other 25 per­cent of the loan for the tower truck at a 2.875 in­ter­est rate.

“Those fig­ures are huge,” said Hur­lock Mayor Joyce Spratt. “They’re not like buy­ing a car or a truck.”

Tol­ley said the 1994 lad­der truck needs to be re­placed be­cause of its age and be­cause the man­u­fac­turer went out of busi­ness, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult and costly to find re­place­ment parts.

He said the new lad­der truck has far more en­hanced safety fea­tures than the 21-year-old truck the depart­ment cur­rently has in ser­vice, and the big­gest con­cern is en­sur­ing the fire com­pany con­tin­ues to ef­fec­tively pro­tect the lives and prop­er­ties of the com­mu­nity, as well as its vol­un­teers.

“That’s the most im­por­tant thing the tower truck is for. We take that very se­ri­ously,” Tol­ley said. “We can’t stress enough how much safety plays a part with this new truck.”

Tol­ley said the fire depart­ment also sees other ben­e­fits to re­plac­ing its ag­ing tower truck, in­clud­ing main­tain­ing Hur­lock’s ISO Com­mu­nity Haz­ard Mit­i­ga­tion’s Pub­lic Pro­tec­tion Clas­si­fi­ca­tion, which cur­rently is 5.0.

Ac­cord­ing to the ISO web­site, the Fire Sup­pres­sion Rat­ing Sched­ule helps ISO re­view the fire preven­tion and fire sup­pres­sion ca­pa­bil­i­ties of in­di­vid­ual com­mu­ni­ties or fire pro­tec­tion ar­eas, and then mea­sures the ma­jor el­e­ments of a com­mu­nity’s fire pro­tec­tion sys­tem and de­vel­ops a nu­mer­i­cal grad­ing called a Pub­lic Pro­tec­tion Clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

“The tower truck does have a big role in help­ing with the ISO rat­ing and in­surance rates,” Tol­ley said.

Other ben­e­fits in­clude de­creased main­te­nance costs and the abil­ity to han­dle an in­crease in call vol­ume and the type of emer­gency calls the fire depart­ment can as­sist with, Tol­ley said.

He said the new tower truck can be used for ven­ti­la­tion of hot gases dur­ing a fire, force­able en­try and fire sup­pres­sion.

“This new truck has hoses on it and at­tack lines we can use to put out fires. Plus, the stand pipe on it; we can dump high vol­umes of wa­ter on big fires re­ally quickly,” Tol­ley said.

Tol­ley said the LED light­ing sys­tem on the tower truck also will al­low for bet­ter, brighter light­ing for il­lu­mi­nat­ing ac­ci­dent scenes and it has a lot of ground lad­ders, which are help­ful dur­ing struc­ture fires to as­sist with res­cues and also are nec­es­sary if a fire­man has to bail out of a build­ing.

Once the truck is de­liv­ered in May, Tol­ley said DPC Emer­gency Equip­ment in Mary­del will in­stall the fi­nal emer­gency equip­ment, in­clud­ing ra­dios, saws, flash­lights and other spe­cial equip­ment.

Tol­ley said Hur­lock Fire Depart­ment is look­ing to sell the 1994 tower truck and it may have a buyer. He said re­plac­ing the tower truck was at the top of the fire depart­ment’s list of pri­or­i­ties.

Other long-term goals for the Hur­lock Fire Depart­ment in­clude up­grad­ing and re­plac­ing the cur­rent fire sta­tion; re­plac­ing a 30-year-old fire en­gine, which the depart­ment was able to sell last sum­mer; up­grad­ing turnout gear, which the fire com­pany ap­plied for a loan to ac­com­plish; and ac­quir­ing a new $50,000 res­cue tool, which will be able to eas­ily cut through dif­fi­cult met­als.

“It’s a bet­ter res­cue tool than we have now, to meet the new stan­dards of these cars that are be­ing built today,” Tol­ley said. “The cur­rent cars that are be­ing built now; it works most of the time, but there are some cars where it’s re­ally hard to cut through the kind of metal that they have.”

Tol­ley said Hur­lock Fire Depart­ment placed a new LifePak defibrillator in ser­vice last year, which cost $32,000, and was funded through a pri­vate grant through the state. The fire depart­ment also placed 30 new sets of self­con­tained breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus’ in ser­vice last year, which were re­ceived through a grant pro­vided to county fire de­part­ments from the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency.

“We re­ally needed to up­grade (them), so that was a big help to us,” Tol­ley said.

At the end of last year, the fire depart­ment also ap­plied for 29 new sets of turnout gear through a FEMA grant, Tol­ley said.

He said the fire depart­ment’s an­nual fund drive is tak­ing place and the com­pany is re­quest­ing do­na­tions to as­sist with the depart­ment’s an­nual costs, in­clud­ing $72,000 per year for the tower truck loan, $32,362 per year for an am­bu­lance loan, $11,000 for truck and equip­ment main­te­nance, $16,500 for build­ing main­te­nance and util­i­ties, $13,000 for in­surance and $8,568 for fuel.

He said the fire com­pany will con­tinue to ap­ply for grants to fund ad­di­tional equip­ment.

R.J. Helmer, 2nd as­sis­tant fire chief with the Hur­lock Fire Depart­ment, said the fire com­pany an­swered 285 to­tal fire calls, not in­clud­ing am­bu­lance calls, last year, and the depart­ment’s vol­un­teers and mem­bers worked 7,000 to­tal hours on fire calls, fundrais­ers, train­ings and meet­ings.

Dur­ing Fe­bru­ary, Helmer said the com­pany re­sponded to 22 fire calls, four mo­tor ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents and two fire alarm ac­ti­va­tions. He said the com­pany has re­ceived just un­der 70 calls for the year, which is a lit­tle higher than this time last year.

“That’s a huge un­der­tak­ing,” Spratt said. “I don’t know how the fire depart­ment does it ... your vol­un­teers don’t have to do this. I just can’t ap­plaud you enough.”

“Pub­lic safety is a high price,” Tol­ley said. “I guess you just can’t put a price on safety and keep­ing peo­ple safe. We’re here for you guys.”

Hur­lock Coun­cil­man Charles Cephas en­cour­aged the fire depart­ment to come back to the coun­cil if it looked like there would be a “short­fall” to fund­ing the tower truck or other fire depart­ment needs.

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