Reaching new goals

Tiffin fire dept. training with $1.1M ladder truck

PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE Travis Stoudinger, a firefighter/paramedic for Tiffin Fire Rescue Division, works at the bottom of the ladder during training Monday afternoon.

Tiffin Fire Rescue Division received its newest ladder truck Feb. 1.

Chief Kevin Veletean of Tiffin Fire Rescue Division said the new truck was necessary in order to replace an old one.

“The truck this one replaced was a 1981 and we tried to maintain it the best we could, but one of the biggest problems we had was parts became obsolete,” Veletean said. “It was getting to the point where we couldn’t find parts for it anymore and parts would have to be manufactured, engineered or substituted for something else and that always becomes problematic in itself doing that.”

On top of that, as the truck ages, issues such as broken hoses and engine problems add to the difficulty of keeping it in service, he said.

“When you’re trying to be responsible with the budget, putting thousands of dollars into continuing to have a truck in service gets to a point where it’s counterproductive,” Veletean said. “And that’s where we were at with that truck.”

He said they started looking at ideas and trucks and made it a priority to replace that truck before coming up with the style they have now.

Veletean said the new truck, like the old one, is a 100-foot, platform ladder truck, meaning there’s a bucket at the end of the ladder so personnel can work in that instead of off the ladder.

He said the custom-built truck cost about $1,109,000 and 90 percent of the cost was paid for by a federal grant, with the remaining 10 percent covered by local matching funds. Veletean said the grant was awarded in July 2016 and the department went under contract with the manufacturer that fall.

The truck took 468 days to build, he said.

Veletean said the new truck will benefit the community.

“It provides the community with a reliable piece of equipment that we know is available to us. The one we had prior to this … there was becoming more and more issues with it and it was becoming more problematic keeping it in service,” he said. “This answers that issue by providing us a reliable platform to be used throughout the community.”

Veletean said the old truck had a number of problems that kept it from meeting National Fire Protection Association safety standards. Standards were nonexistent in 1981, but since then, safety standards, aerial operations requirements and pump operation requirements have all been added and changed, Veletean said.

“This new truck addresses all those at the same time,” he said. “Now (we) have a valuable piece of equipment for our guys to use for the community so the community is receiving that benefit and that resource, and at the same time, the actual firefighters are receiving the benefit of having a reliable, safe piece of equipment to work from and provide those services we’re tasked with to the community.”

The truck is replacing the aerial truck that was at Station No. 2 and will stay there, Veletean said. The previous truck wasn’t able to travel under the Washington Street viaduct, but the new truck’s ladder is mounted differently, which allows for a height deduction. Being able to go beneath the viaduct means firefighters can respond in a more timely and efficient manner, he said.

Veletean said a number of features on the new truck weren’t around in 1981. One thing that is unique and will help especially in Tiffin is a metal roof ladder attached to the upper part of the aerial that can be accessed from the bucket, he said.

Veletean said 95 percent of building in downtown Tiffin have a parapet wall — the roof is lower than the top of the front wall and generally slopes to the back of the building. The roof can be anywhere from 1 foot to 10 feet lower than the front wall, Veletean said.

The aerial can go only so low without hitting the building, meaning there is a drop on the back side of parapet get to the roof. Now, the aluminum ladder can lock into a cradle on the front of the bucket, allowing personnel to descend to the roof.

“With the previous aerial, we couldn’t do that,” he said.

The bucket also has a frame on the front made to hold a rescue basket.

“If somebody gets hurt on a roof … how it used to be, we would have to get you figured out and how we’re going to get you on the ground,” Veletean said. “This way, we can take the bucket up to the roof, package you like a normal EMS patient, carry you over, set you onto this cradle and take you down and put you right on the ground with it.”

There are three rigging spots for high angle rescues that could be used in a situation such as a person or vehicle in the Sandusky River, and 1,000 pounds of weight can be put into the bucket.

Veletean said that while incidents such as that are rare, it’s helpful to have the equipment.

“It’s not the sole purpose of this equipment, but it’s one feature of the equipment,” he said. “We took those risks that are present in our community and we tried to combine them instead of saying, ‘We need one piece of equipment that will answer that one call.'”

“This is a custom truck. We had to go through and spec it all out so we basically built the truck from the ground up and as a result we can take all those risks to our community, somebody falling into the river off the bridge, a car going off through the intersection into the river, elevator stuck on Kiwanis Manor, a window washer, whatever it may be,” Veletean said. “We can take all those risks, because it may only happen once a year, but when you compile them all and then add in the number of times we have structure fires and all the other incidents, then you’re getting the most bang for your buck out of that vehicle.”

Veletean said personnel began training with the truck Monday and training is to continue this week. Next week, an instructor from the manufacturer, KME Corp., will work with department personnel for three days, going over specific operations and features and answering questions, he said.

“Truck No. 2” is to go into service between Feb. 23 and Feb. 28 after training has been completed, Veletean said.

He said Tiffin Fire Rescue Division is a community organization and if people are interested in seeing the station or its equipment, they are welcome.

“Give the department a call and we can arrange for somebody to come and have a tour of the station and see the equipment at either station, truck included, and see firsthand what is serving our community,” Veletean said. “There are a lot of advantages to a department like ours that we’re more than willing to do and provide to the community, so please, give us a call.”

Tiffin Fire Rescue Division can be contacted at (419) 448-5444.