Pine Bluff Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr. can be seen speaking in the background, left of the bumper of one of the new fire trucks, during a ceremony at the main fire station at City Hall Thursday. (Special to The Commercial/William Harvey)
Pine Bluff Fire Chief Shauwn Howell speaks to the crowd at the ceremony to present the three new fire trucks at the main fire station at City Hall on Thursday. (Special to The Commercial/William Harvey)
The new trucks, manufactured by E-One of Ocala, Fla., were customized to the exact specifications of the stations where each truck will be headquartered. Special to The Commercial/William Harvey
John Wall, left, gets a tour of one of the new fire engines by firefighter John Buchan during the ceremony to allow the public to see the new trucks up close at the main fire station at City Hall Thursday. (Special to The Commercial/William Harvey)
The Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department unveiled three new pumper trucks at a Thursday morning ceremony at Fire Station Number One that was attended by local dignitaries, business leaders and fire department personnel.
The three trucks, manufactured by E-One of Ocala, Fla., were customized to the exact specifications of the stations where each truck will be headquartered at a cost of around $400,000 and purchased with funds generated by the one cent city sales tax passed in February 2011 by Pine Bluff voters.
“The selection and creation of these trucks was a group effort,” Fire Chief Shauwn Howell said. “We knew ahead of time that the trucks would be going to Station Three, which is also getting a new station at 30th and Ash; to Station Four on Commerce Road in Broadmoor; and to Station Seven on Ridgway Road.”
“Because we knew where they would be going we created an internal selection committee where firefighters from all ranks were able to say what is important to them on a new truck,” Howell said. “Each station has three shifts so we designated a representative for each shift at each of the three stations for a total of nine firefighters who brought the input of their firefighters forward.”
Chip Crooms, territory manager with Fairhope, Ala.-based Sunbelt Fire, the dealer that sold the trucks, served as the point of contact between the Pine Bluff fire departmentand E-One, and communicated the design requests of the department to the manufacturer.
“Each of these three trucks has been customized to operate out of the specific dimensions of the stations where they will be,” Crooms said. “From placement of controls and storage areas to the wheelbase of the truck, these trucks are completely customized from the ground up to best serve the needs of the firefighters who will depend upon them. My focus is the needs of the firefighters so that their focus can be on the needs of the community.”
Howell pointed out a significant safety innovation.
“Each truck has a roll cage system to protect our firefighters in the event of a rollover,” Howell said. “It is similar to what NASCAR drivers have in their cars.”
Crooms said that the roll cage is built using extruded aluminum that is integrated into the cab of each truck to provide maximum occupant protection in the event of a rollover accident.
Pine Bluff Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr. pointed out the improvements made at the department since the start of his first term.
“When I took office in January 2005 the fire department’s trucks were around 25 years old,” Redus said. “Now the average age of the equipment is four years. The oldest trucks were built in 2000 and in 2003. By supporting the passage of the one cent sales tax the community has invested in its future; in your family’s future.”
Howell said that the department is ultimately working to standardize its firefighting vehicles in order to streamline the operation.
“Ultimately we want to decide upon the manufacturer that meets our needs and stay with them,” Howell said. “It will help with routine maintenance by allowing our mechanics to become familiar with a particular manufacturer and will allow us to purchase wearable items like brake pads and oil filters in bulk. Standardizing our apparatus will also allow our firefighters to have fewer different types of systems to operate.”
The fire departmentwill host an open house Saturday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Station Number One, 200 E. Eighth Ave. in the City Hall building.
“We will be displaying these trucks on Saturday and will have other things for families to see and do,” Howell said. “This is Fire Prevention Week and the theme this year is Have Two Ways Out. We want everyone to know at least two ways to get out of their home or business in the case of a fire.”