Estevan's new fire truck is expected to enhance the safety of Estevan's firefighters, allowing them to combat blazes and respond to other rescue calls in a fashion that they haven't been able to previously.
The articulating boom aerial platform truck arrived in the city on Labour Day. Since that time, several members of Estevan Fire and Rescue Services have been going through extensive training, so that they can learn how to properly operate the truck, and then train their fellow firefighters.
Deputy Fire Chief Dale Feser said it's a very versatile machine that can be used in other situations than just fires.
"This one here actually has the platform itself mounted on a jibb boom, and the platform itself stows behind the cab," said Feser. "That allows for a lot more versatility for this particular type of truck, because you can go 30 feet below grade with this truck."
Feser said the ability to go underground allows the truck to be used in confined space situations, or in water rescues.
"We can effectively stage this up on a bridge, and have the carriage hang over the bridge, and provide a rescue," said Feser.
The platform articulates 45 degrees each way, which adds to the abilities of the truck. It can reach a height of 115 feet, but Feser said that it likely won't exceed 85 feet during a fire.
Feser expects that the fire truck will create a higher degree of safety for the firefighters.
"We're able to safely work from a platform, where conventionally, prior to this, we'd have to actually ladder the building, and sound out the roof, making sure it's structurally sound before entering onto the roof and providing ventilation access and fire suppression activities," said Feser.
Feser said the truck is a needed addition to the firefighting fleet because of the growing number of four-storey buildings in the community. It's something that the department has coveted for some time.
"Prior to this, we didn't have any way, means, shape or form, other than entering the structure itself, other than getting access to the attic through the attic space," said Feser. "Now this actually will allow us to do all firefighting operations and rescue operations from the safety of the platform."
It's not just a specialty truck either; the fire truck will be deployed for just about any type of call, and it will be the second truck sent to a call within city limits. The aerial apparatus won't be deployed unless it's absolutely necessary.
The fire department will also be able to retire the oldest truck in its fleet once the new truck is in service.
Several people will be involved in operations of the truck during a call. Once the truck arrives, the driver will be in charge for pump operations. The captain or another firefighter will be involved with the aerial operations, if needed. The other firefighters will be setting up outriggers and stabilizing the unit, and taking care of other duties on the ground.
Estevan Fire and Rescue Services received the go-ahead last November from Estevan City Council to proceed with purchasing the truck. From there, the fire department studied the needs of the city, and determined the specifications that would be required on a truck to meet those needs.
Prior to the end of construction, Feser went to the Minnesota plant where the truck was being built, and made certain that everything that was ordered would be included.
Training began the day after Labour Day. A team of instructors has been guiding eight local firefighters through the process, ensuring the firefighters are competent and confident, said Feser.
The firefighters have been going through theory lessons and hands-on training at locations around the city, including the Souris Valley Aquatic and Leisure Centre, and at a valley in the northwest corner of the city. Then those firefighters will train the other members of the department.
"We'll likely have this truck for a full month … before we have it in service," said Feser.
There was also a demonstration at the Leisure Centre's parking lot on September 5, when several invited people were able to stand inside the platform at the maximum height.