The new engines that firefighters pushed into Waco Fire Stations Monday are designed to improve crew safety and pump a greater volume of water on fires, fire officials said.
Three fire stations received the first three of seven vehicles the Waco Fire Department acquired at a cost of $5 million from manufacturer, Spartan Emergency Response. Three more engines will be delivered soon, in addition to a ladder truck arriving in July, Deputy Fire Chief Robby Bergerson said in an email.
Waco Fire Chief Gregory Summers said new “state-of-the-art” trucks were needed to replace older vehicles. The city buys them under a 10-year lease-purchase agreement.
“We had a very serious issue with the condition and replacement of the device,” Summers said. “We needed to look at a mechanism that we can go into and replace it and not have a financial impact on the city. We therefore turned to the lease-purchase approach.
Bergerson said the six new engines cost the city about $638,000 each and the ladder truck cost about $1.2 million.
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Summers said the new trucks will replace old ones that will be traded in with vendors, bringing in an expected total of $40,000 to $50,000, which could be used to buy new fire hoses and nozzles.
Summers said the new trucks will spend about 15 years in frontline use and five years as a reserve before being replaced.
Waco Fire engineer Scotty Watts said the new trucks are better “cut and dry” machines than the older trucks due to the different type of engine used, citing mechanical issues in the older engines.
Watts said the new trucks have a larger 250-gallon water tank and a hose with a higher flow rate of 1,500 gallons per minute instead of 1,250. Summers said when they arrive, firefighters could start fighting the fire using the water stored in the truck, as it’s faster than hooking up to a fire hydrant.
“Seconds count when you’re performing a rescue,” Watts said. “So that the extra water is useful.”
Watts said the new trucks have more interior space, giving more room for equipment and making it easier for firefighters to prepare during a fire. He said the trucks have lower pipe beds, which Watts says allows easier access to pipes and therefore faster response in the event of a fire.
Watts said the new motors also have many advanced interior safety features, such as more airbags and a sensor that can slow specific wheels on the motor to prevent a rollover if a corner is taken too quickly.
Watts said the new trucks have a better turning radius than older trucks and can turn into much tighter areas. They have brighter LED emergency lights that don’t need to be replaced as often. Watts also said the trucks are equipped with a “rumbler” siren system that can vibrate the ground so cars can be more aware of incoming fire trucks.
Summers also said the new engines received an all-red paint job to create a “brand” of all-red trucks within the Waco Fire Department.
Fire trucks were delivered Monday to Station No. 1, 100 Peach St.; Station #2, 2625 Park Lake Drive; and Station No. 11, 7600 Imperial Drive.
At each station, members of the Waco community, including young children, helped firefighters back the trucks into the station in a “push” ceremony, a firefighter tradition that dates back to the days horse-drawn carriages.
A Waco Fire Department press release said that after returning to the station, horses could not back the cart into the station, so firefighters would have to physically push the cart into the station themselves.
Even though the fire department no longer relies on horses, Summers said the pushing ceremony has remained over the years as a way to commemorate new equipment.
“The fire department is steeped in tradition,” Summers said. “It’s our way of showing that we have a new device. Instead of smashing it, we’re going to smash it.