Truck No. 31 arrived mid-morning on May 27 as a handful of firefighters with the Lawrencetown Volunteer Fire Department waited to see what Lantz Truck Body in Port Williams had built them this time.
Chief Mike Stoddart, Deputy Chief Andy Lowe, and Captain Mike Lockett were on the committee that designed the truck, replacing the old walk-in GMC with a new crew-cab Freightliner.
Lockett showed firefighters some of the features of the truck – basically a giant toolbox on wheels that holds all sorts of gear from air tanks, saws, hydraulic cutting tools, to jack stands, red safety cones, pipe, and even latex gloves.
“It’s a four-door Freightliner chassis,” said Lockett. “It’s got a 6,000-psi cascade bottle system on it for filling our self-contained breathing apparatus – that’s a four-bottle system. It has a command tower light for lighting up scenes, so some good nighttime vision. And it has a 25-kilowatt generator set on it as well.”
They even have a small fridge on the truck so firefighters can have cold water at fire scenes.”
“That’s a first for us,” said Lockett.
And it has an awning that pulls out to give firefighters some shelter from the rain and the sun.
Chief Stoddart said the truck is designed for rescue.
“Car accidents for sure,” he said. “It has a Jaws of Life on it. Ventilation saws for house fires. Medical calls as well. It’s a fully stocked medical truck. The main call-outs for that truck would be car accidents and medical calls.”
Lockett added that it does traffic control as well. And it’s automatic transmission so more operators can drive the truck.
“It will go to most of our calls,” said Stoddart. “It’s a manpower truck as well. Five people can get in that truck. It has the BAs (breathing apparatus) in there for structure fires.”
He described it as their second- or third-out vehicle and one that’s been in the planning stages for a while.
Lawrencetown firefighters started designing the new truck more than three years ago. Stoddart described it as a three-year project with manufacturing starting just after Christmas of 2016.
While it took six months to build the truck, it took a lot longer to design it.
“It was a debate for us,” said Stoddart. “Our old truck was a walk-in rescue, meaning that manpower could actually go in and rehab. We decided we needed more space. We have more tools to work with, so we basically wanted a bigger cab. The manpower now is all in the cab versus sitting in the back of the truck. That’s a big change for us.”
All that gear is stored on shelves, in drawers, and on slide-out trays that make access quick and easy.
While the new truck sits on the concrete pad in front of the hall, the old truck is inside, parked at the back.
“Twenty-seven years old,” said Stoddart as he looks back at the 1990 GMC, “hand-built by the same manufacturer. Lantz Truck Body built that one. Twenty-seven years later in comes the new one. That’s pretty special.”
But even as firefighters hate to see an old faithful vehicle leave the truck bays for good, there is a happy ending. Chief Stoddart said the old Truck No. 31 is going to the fire hall in Margaretsville.
The price tag on 2017-Rescue No. 31? Taxes in the new truck cost about $450,000. Chief Stoddart said funding came from various sources including Annapolis County and the department’s own fundraising efforts.