The Fort Calhoun Volunteer Fire Department (FCVFD) welcomed to its fleet last week what is, for the department, a one-of-a-kind fire truck.
Through March 31 and April 1 Facebook posts, the department unveiled a red, aerial ladder fire truck — truck 650 — which Fire Chief Dan Mallory said will help the department better respond to emergencies in a growing community.
"We're starting to see some bigger homes, more commercial spaces, things are expanding," Mallory said. "As we travel around and start looking at today's building construction, we're seeing homes in our district that are four-to-5,000 square foot in size. We're seeing roof peaks that are much longer and taller than we had before, so our conventional roof ladders aren't going to reach the top of these peaks."
Truck 650 has a 105-foot ladder, holds 500 gallons of water and has a pump capacity which can provide 1,750 gallons per minute.
The truck is the only aerial ladder truck — and red truck — in the FCVFD fleet, and one of only two aerial trucks in Washington County. Mallory said the truck will not only help the department respond to emergencies in its district, but also provide extra insurance perks and assistance to neighboring departments.
"Definitely an improvement," Mallory said. "Every time we go through an evaluation with the insurance services organization, we get credit for having an aerial ladder, which we've never had before … It's a benefit for everything. Not only our department, but to assist our neighbors as well."
Mallory said there are no plans to paint the red truck to match the department's other yellow vehicles, so it will remain an entirely unique addition.
"It'll probably stay red, we don't have the budget to change color on it," he said.
The truck came at a bargain price for FCVFD, Mallory added.
"It's a 1997. That truck, if you bought that thing new, that would run over $900,000, and we were able to pick this thing up for $24,000," he said. "It was a steal."
The truck was previously used by the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department before being sold at auction to a man in Minnesota.
"So, we bought it from a guy out of Minneapolis who bought it through auction before," Mallory said.
Though the truck is more than 20 years old, Mallory said it is still in great shape with few hours and miles on it.
Truck 650, however, will have to wait two- to- four months before it is put in service.
"There's a few things we have to do to it, and go through some training, and policies, and procedures," Mallory said. "But once we get her all lettered up, we might shoot some pictures of it and announce that it's officially ready to respond."