Hurlock fire department awaits new ladder truck
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.