The Van Buren Fire Department has a new fire truck with a 105-foot ladder which will enable the department to fight fires at the taller structures being constructed in the city while protecting local firefighters.
Monday night, the city council vote 6-0 to purchase a Pierce Arrow XT 105-foot ladder apparatus from Pierce Manufacturing in Appleton, Wis.
The cost will be $603,000 after selling the department’s current 75-foot, 1997 model truck to Heber Springs for $125,000. VBFD will keep the equipment it currently has on the 1997 apparatus to be placed on the newer model.
Aldermen authorized Van Buren Mayor Bob Freeman to spend $103,000 as a partial payment on the vehicle and to enter into an agreement with a financial institution for the remaining funds to be paid over a five-year period.
Battalion Chief Tim Arnold said the fire department has needed the larger fire ladder apparatus for several years, noting the construction of the Holiday Inn Express and the Sleep Inn on Pointer Trail.
"They’re big, tall buildings," Arnold said. "Our ladder will only reach to the eve on the edge. It doesn’t go above it at all, and to get it to the eve, we have to pull really close to the building to do that, so you’re in the collapse zone. If something goes wrong, it’s falling on the truck."
Freeman said the idea of purchasing the taller ladder apparatus began about eight years ago when fire damaged the Van Buren Public Library which was under construction at 1409 Main St.
"We were set back over it with the ladder truck because the fire was through the roof," Freeman said. "Then, a week or two weeks later, it was down to the King Opera House and they’re up above in those narrow streets trying to get above that with the ladder."
The 2013 fire apparatus, originally priced at almost $1 million, has been used by Pierce as a factory demonstration truck, according to Steve Haile of EVS Inc.
Haile said Pierce completed a full inspection on the apparatus and will offer a one-year bumper-to-bumper warranty and five-year warranty on the motor and transmission.
Freeman said the down-payment will come from Act 833 funds, which are rebates from insurance premiums which the city receives and can be only used for the fire department. The yearly payments will come from Act 833 funds and the VBFD’s portion of the county-wide sales tax.