750-gallon, $640K pumper joins AFD’s fire-suppression fleet
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Atmore Fire Department welcomed a new addition to its fleet of fire-suppression vehicles last Friday, December 29, when Chief Ron Peebles and a squad of city firefighters returned from Decatur with a bright red Rosenbauer pumper.
The new fire engine, which comes with a $640,000 price tag, is the latest model from the world’s largest manufacturer of custom fire trucks. It includes many features that are not part of AFD’s other vehicles.
Although the new truck is considered a pumper, Peebles explained that it’s not just for ferrying water to other firefighting apparatus.
“It’s a 750-gallon pumper, but it has tools all the way around it,” the fire chief said. “Extrication tools are going to be on it, and a medical cabinet will be on it. It’s a fully equipped engine.
“They (AFD personnel) can take it and go anywhere and do whatever needs to be done, no matter what happens in front of them, whether it’s wrecks, fires or whatever. They’ve got everything they need right here.”
The new truck will hold six firefighters, the driver and “navigator” in front, four more in the roomy “sleeper” area. A recessed area in each of the five non-driver seats holds an air tank, allowing firefighters to start attacking a blaze as soon as they step out of the Rosenbauer.
“That’s one of the big things about it,” Peebles said. “You can have five men coming off that truck with air. It will hold six people, and everybody in it but the driver can come off with their air packs on, ready to go.”
Other features include air-conditioning in the cab, along with a high-tech camera that allows for safer and faster responses.
“Another good thing about this one, it’s got an air-conditioned cab,” Peebles explained. “If we get somebody that’s too hot, we can sit them up in there and cool them down, or we can heat them up if they’re cold. We’ve never had that. It also has a camera that, when you put the truck in reverse, the camera shows the sides, front and back. When you use the turn signal, it shows the whole side that you’ll be turning.”
Not only has the department been without those features, but it has also not had a straight-from-the-dealer “new” truck since the mid-1980s, relying instead on high-mileage used ones that still have a decade or more of anticipated usefulness.
“It’s brand new, our first new truck since 1984, and it’s going to be our primary, go-to truck,” said Peebles, who noted that the City of Nashville, Tenn. recently ordered 40 trucks of the same model.
City Clerk Becca Smith said she drew against the city’s $1.7 million line of credit (LOC) at First National Bank & Trust to pay for the new fire engine, and Mayor Jim Staff agreed that the vehicle is “first class.” Money borrowed against the LOC carries a 3.45-percent interest rate.
Peebles said he is just proud the city felt strongly enough about public safety to go out on a financial limb and buy the Rosenbauer.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “We’re mighty proud that the city put the money into it. They got the money, and Becca made it happen.”
He added that he is excited to see the truck in action but hates that it will take a disastrous incident to make that happen. Before its “shakedown cruise” takes place, though, a representative of NAFCO, the company from which the vehicle was purchased, will conduct an in-service with local firemen.
“It’s all ready to go; all we’ve got to do is put our equipment on it,” Peebles said Tuesday, Jan. 2. “We hope to have it in service by the end of this week.”