Carrboro Fire Department adds to its fleet

Aug. 28, 2014 @ 01:55 PM

On Wednesday evening, the Carrboro Fire-Rescue Department will welcome a new member to the family.

But it’s not a firefighter that will join the ranks of 33 shift workers. Rather, it’s a new truck that will be added to the fleet.
The department will hold a ceremony at 5:30 p.m. at Station 1 Wednesday to celebrate. Fire Chief Travis Crabtree isn’t sure how many people will attend, but hopes for a good turnout.
“We targeted the farmers’ market and hope that pedestrians will walk over for a few minutes,” he said.
The department currently operates its two stations with six trucks total – two main engines, one reserve engine, one ladder truck, one reserve ladder truck and one brush truck (which is smaller and often used in inclement weather). The department also has operational vehicles driven by the chief and fire marshal.
The new truck will allow one of the main engines to be retired to the reserves, and the current reserve truck, which is 21 years old, will most likely be auctioned, Crabtree said.
The truck was paid for with leftover money that the town borrowed to construct Station 2, which opened in September 2010. After discussions with the town, the Fire Department decided to purchase a $550,000 fire engine.
“We sat down and talked about it and decided, ‘Yeah, this is a good thing,’” Crabtree said.
The department last purchased a new vehicle in 2012, when it acquired its brush truck. The newest ladder truck was bought in 2009.
Crabtree said that although additional equipment for the truck, such as hoses, axes and hammers, is still being purchased, he estimates that the department will spend an additional $130,000. All expenses were covered by the leftover station money, he said.
“It’s all these little pieces that are still having to come together,” Crabtree said, adding that the radio was installed last Monday and the hose was picked up Tuesday.
The truck, which arrived at the station July 8, should be ready to respond to calls shortly after the ceremony, Crabtree said.
Crabtree said the new truck will be used mostly by Station 1, although it could be used by Station 2 for training purposes or for special projects.
The two stations often trade and share trucks. “That way, the service isn’t interrupted,” Crabtree said.
The stations stay staffed with a minimum of nine firefighters at all times – three people per truck. The fire department responds to about 1,600 calls every year, Crabtree said.
Being able to retire the 21-year-old engine will make truck maintenance easier because it is often easier to find parts for the newer models.
“That we’re ready and able to provide services is really key,” Crabtree said.
The new engine will also be safer for the firefighters because it features a top-mount pump instead of the old truck’s side-mount pump. A top-mount pump allows the firefighter working the nozzles and gauges to climb up on top of the truck rather than standing on the side of the truck in the way of traffic. The higher viewpoint also increases the field of vision, Crabtree said.
Crabtree said that the top-mount pump was something the firefighters advocated for during the decision-making process before purchasing a truck. 
“That’s what the people who are going to be using this truck for the next 20 years said they wanted,” he said.