Numerous counties in northern Virginia typically dispatch two ladder trucks to a structure fire.
"We've been limited in Fauquier because there's only one ladder truck," said Remington Chief Ian Brill Wednesday. Not anymore.
"We found a really good deal on a used one," he said. "A new one is well over a million to a million and half dollars for a vehicle that's comparable to what we bought." After scrounging the Internet, they saw one for sale in Plymouth, Pa. for $95,000. A team made the three-hour drive to check out the blue truck.
"A special department meeting was called to discuss the purchase of the vehicle," Brill said.
"The money came from donations and fundraisers," he said. After the initial $95,000, the department spent $10,000 on repairs. Those community donations will come around full circle as Brill expects the truck to function for another 5 to 10 years of service.
"Some people equate ladder trucks with high rises when in actuality they are used more often for technical rescues [when they are] elevated from overpasses, silos or towers and ice or water rescues," said Thomas Billington, chief of the Fauquier Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management.
"Our immediate response area (called 'first due') has changed over the past couple years and is continuing to change. Only having one ladder truck, we as a department felt it was time to look into it," added Brill. The 105 foot ladder isn't the only thing about the truck being touted.
Brill calls it, "A gigantic tool box on wheels."
"There are fans to remove smoke and heat, great lighting capabilities, a lot of equipment to protect belongings, like plastic to cover furniture, and ways to remove water after the fire is out," Brill said. The two main benefits of the new truck is firefighter safety, and victim removal. A ladder truck gives firefighters an alternative way to exit a building.
"Say we're on the second floor and conditions change. Having ground ladders is a very quick way to get out of the building," said Brill. The victims can be more easily removed from a burning house by using the ladder. The ladder truck will even tend to single story house fires.
"We would use the aerial ladder or ground ladder to get on the roof and make a ventilation hole," Brill said. According to Billington, a county as large as Fauquier needs more than one ladder truck in case the other is out of service or on another call. Brill said that recent fires could have benefited from the components of the new truck.
For example, last June, Taylor Middle School had a fire in the HVAC system. The smoke filled the auditorium so densely that Prince William was called in to blow it out with fans. The ladder truck is equipped with multiple fans that can tackle this type of job in the future. Another example is the fire that happened in October of 2006 at Gilliams Lumber. The ladder truck would have been useful in providing more water to the two story building.
The need for a second ladder truck was evident so Remington Department began saving money raised through fund raisers and donations, budgeting with the ladder truck in mind. In addition to servicing the far reaches of Fauquier, the truck will be used for "mutual aid with Culpeper and Stafford," Brill said. The Remington firefighters considered painting the truck to match the rest of their fleet, but it wasn't cost effective at a cost of about $50,000.
"It's a good resource for the citizens,” Brill said of the new blue truck.”It's going to benefit the community for quite some time."
Chief Ian Brill, firefighter Renee Ledrew, and Assistant Chief Billy LeDrew pose with the "new" 1993 Pierce ladder truck which extends 105 feet.