The City of Hillsdale has narrowed its search for a new ladder truck to two used trucks in Houston, Texas, Fire Chief Scott Hephner told the Collegian on Tuesday.
Since November of last year, the Fire Department has been in need of a new truck to replace its 1983 platform truck, which has been in service to the city for 19 years. The truck failed inspection when its hydraulic lift cylinders failed, and inspectors noticed that other hydraulic components were leaking. Additionally, the truck’s ladder cradle is broken, its ladder turret turns slowly due to low pressure, and its suspension load cushions are cracked.
This essentially means the truck cannot function as a ladder truck because it would be unsafe to raise the ladder with firefighters on the platform.
“The need for a new truck really comes down to the safety of our firefighters,” Hephner said.
Fixing the current truck would cost $25,000 — much more than the 34 year-old truck is worth. Buying a new would cost anywhere in the range of $800,000 to $1,000,000.
The City Council has allotted the Fire Department $250,000 to buy a new truck, according to Hephner.
The Fire Department is looking for a truck with a 100-foot long ladder to replace the current 85-foot platform. Additionally, it needs a truck with a ladder that has hydraulic capabilities, meaning that it can run water up through the end of the extension.
Because its ladder is out of commission, the current truck cannot effectively fight fires that would break out in tall buildings. This includes the Hillsdale Hospital helicopter pad, the 9-story Beacon Hill apartment building on M-99, and many of Hillsdale College’s buildings. It also includes much of the city’s downtown, which has a high concentration of 3-story buildings.
Hephner said that if a fire occurs, Hillsdale will recieve aid from neighboring towns and townships.
“But we don’t want to be without a fire truck,” he said.
Hephner also added that although the ladder on the current truck cannot raise for accurate fire fighting, the fire department can spray water up in the air from other trucks to douse flames in tall structures.
Some Hillsdale residents has requested that the college pay for a new truck because of the number of large buildings it maintains, but Hephner put to rest any rumors that this would be an option.
“The Fire Department is not asking the college or any institution to pay for it,” he said.
Additionally, Director of Campus Security William Whorley said he is absolutely confident in Hephner’s abilities to protect the city until the Fire Department secures a new truck.
“He’s a good administrator and I have absolute confidence in both the Police and Fire Departments,” he said.