Hillsdale is searching for a new Fire Truck | Courtesy Pexels

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.