(Crystal A. Proxmire, 4/13/2011)
On Monday, April 11, 2011, Ferndale City Council approved the purchase of a new aerial fire truck. On Wednesday the engine arrived safely and firefighters were able to begin testing it out.
The Ferrara HD-100 truck engine has a bucket ladder that extends 100 feet and can hold up to 1,000 lbs. The truck has many new features that the Department’s old 1989 model lacked, including a built in bucket, a built in water piping system, and a remote control nozzle so the ladder can be used without anyone on it.
The truck is designed to be used with a crew of as little as two firefighters. This means that in times of lean staffing they are able to use the conveniences of the truck to work more efficiently. And in the case of large fires, the truck helps free up fighters to work on other life-saving tasks.
The current ladder truck has been out of commission for over two years since the ladder was deemed unsafe.
70% of the $903,100 vehicle purchase was covered by a FEMA grant (Federal Emergency Management Authority), with the remainder coming out of the Motor Pool Equipment Fund which is designated for such purchases. The purchase had no impact on the City’s General Fund.
“This is a beautiful piece of equipment,” said Fire Chief Kevin Sullivan. “There are a lot of things that Ferrara [the manufacturer] did with the firefighters in mind.” He pointed out that other companies send new trucks with components that need to be installed by the Departments after delivery. “The last time we got a new truck, it was five months before we were able to use it. Between taking runs, writing reports, and doing our safety inspections we had to fit in time to put up the shelves, install the liners and all that stuff. With this there’s not much we have to do, Ferrara did it all for us.” While the sale was pending, the truck was shown at a trade show, where Ferrara got twenty offers for purchase by other departments.
Sullivan said it will take about two more weeks for the final modifications to be complete, mainly having the lettering put on the side. The truck will need to be stored off-site for up to five months while new doors are installed at Station #1, to accommodate the length of the truck. The modifications are necessary to accommodate the size of new trucks in general. Because they are so long, when the front tires reach the street, it lifts the back end up too high to clear the doorway.
“We’re really excited about the capabilities of this truck,” said Fire Marshall Brian Batten. He recalled a time when he responded to a two-story fire in Royal Oak, using the old ladder truck. “That thing was so wobbly. I was up maybe 40 feet and they had to move the ladder so that I wouldn’t be directly over the Royal Oak guys going in beneath me. So the guy on the ground used the hydraulics to move me, when he should have used the hand crank. It made the ladder just bounce like crazy for about ten minutes, and all I could do was hang on and wait. He’s lucky I couldn’t get down to kill him,” he said in jest.
Without a bucket, firefighters at the top of the ladder had to hold on for dear life, and manage the high-pressure water hoses. They also had to extend the ladder and then climb up with all their gear. “This [new] kind of truck is a lot safer,” Batten said.
The Ferndale Fire Department is currently looking at the possibility of merging with the Hazel Park Fire Department. This possibility is still in the research phases, and regardless of how that turns out, the engine will still be used. For more on the potential merger, check out https://oaklandcounty115.com/2011/04/04/fire-dept-merger-study-in-progress-ray-riggs-explains//
If you’d like to see our tour of the Fire Station #1, along with the tools that Ferndale Firefighters use to save lives and property, see https://oaklandcounty115.com/2011/01/12/tools-of-the-trade-in-the-ferndale-fire-department.
For other Police and Fire news, go to https://oaklandcounty115.com/category/policeandfire/. NOTE: An earlier version of this story reported a total cost of $650,000, when the actual total is $903,100 with FEMA paying for $650,000.