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New fire truck designed off of crew's 'wish list'

August 24, 2018
By TIFFANY REPECKI ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The Sanibel Fire and Rescue District has officially taken possession of its new ladder truck.

The Sutphen SL75 Aerial Ladder arrived on Aug. 14 and is housed at Station 171, located on Palm Ridge Road. Purchased from South Florida Emergency Vehicles, it has a Cummins L9 450-horsepower engine, Hale QMax 1500 gpm pump and 500-gallon water tank, as well as 193 cubic feet of storage.

"We're just finalizing mounting some equipment on it," Fire Chief Matt Scott said.

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The Sanibel Fire and Rescue District's new ladder truck arrived on Aug. 14. It is expected to be on the road and answering calls by mid-September, about two weeks ahead of the original schedule.

The district expects to have the truck in service by mid-September.

"We're actually about two weeks ahead of our original schedule," he said.

The project of acquiring the new apparatus has been in the works for at least a year.

"The crew's very excited," Scott said. "They're just waiting to get in the truck."

"They had a lot of input on the design," he added.

According to Scott, three firefighters served as the "design committee," meeting with every district member to get their input on what they wanted to see in the truck, compared to the old apparatus.

"The biggest change is the actual ladder location," he said.

The old truck has a rear-mounting ladder.

"It's a mid-mount," Scott said of the new one. "It's attached to the truck in the middle."

"They wanted to go that route because of the way it operates," he added.

The mid-mounting ladder also opens up more compartment space for the crew, so it has room for equipment it could not carry before, which limits the need for additional apparatus to respond.

"We don't have to have a second truck show up," Scott said.

Once the truck is in service, the old one goes to a wholesaler that bought it for $75,000.

The last apparatus that the district acquired was a pumper engine in 2013.

A housing ceremony will likely take place at the end of September or beginning of October.

"It's kind of a tradition," he said. "It dates back to the horse-drawn pumpers."

Scott described the ceremony as a blessing for new apparatus.

"There's a water transfer ceremony, where the water in the existing truck is transferred to the new truck," he said. "It gets its first traditional wash."

The final step is the truck is ceremonially pushed into the bay where it will be housed.

The ceremonies are open to the public and the community is invited to attend.

In addition to the truck, an entry-level firefighter has been hired.

At the district's commission meeting in July, Scott reported that Capt. Rob Popkin had resigned. He explained that Assistant Fire Chief William Briscoe was working on promoting a lieutenant to captain and a firefighter to lieutenant. At the same time, Scott was focusing on filling the available vacancy.

"We did hire a new firefighter," Scott said.

Lisa Mann, who recently graduated from the fire academy, started on Aug. 20.

He noted that the promotions are expected to take place this week.

The district is in the process of working on its 2018-2019 budget. The first hearing will be held on Sept. 5 at 5:01 p.m., with the second and final hearing scheduled for Sept. 12 at 5:01 p.m.

The hearings are open to the public.



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