New fire truck arrives in SH

Scott Swanson

As their brand new fire truck rolled into the Sweet Home Fire Station yard last week, normally stoic firefighters had trouble restraining their enthusiasm.

“Wow, that’s real good!”

“Phenomenal!”

“It’s beautiful!”

The object of their admiration was the Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District’s newest acquisition, a Rosenbauer Timberwolf Urban Interface Pumper which, Fire Chief Nick Tyler said, will serve both as a pumper for structural fires as well as be able to respond to off-road, wildland fires.

The truck carries 750 gallons of water, said Jonathan Brunton, a sales representative for General Fire Apparatus of Spokane, Wash., the dealer that sold the district the truck. It sports multiple nozzles that can pump 100 gallons a minute at 600 psi of pressure to spray water on fires, and up to 1,250 gallons per minute at lower pressures.

The new truck is built on a International four-wheel-drive chassis and features a four-door heavy-duty extruded aluminum body with full-height and full-width “rescue-style body compartments,” according to a company brochure. A turret-style joystick within reach of the driver operates ground-sweep nozzles located in front of the front wheels, the rear wheels and above the roof line, and a front bumper turret.

“This should be a great rig,” Tyler said. “It can be a Type 1 structural engine or a Type 3 wildland engine. It’s specifically designed for the wildland urban interface where we’re fighting wildland fires inside of communities and stuff like that. It can do both those functions.”

The district already had a similar engine, but Tyler noted that during the Labor Day weekend fires of 2020, it became obvious that it needed to be able to “fight wildland fires and protect structures with a single rig.”

“It’s just resource stretching, where one crew can do multiple things.”

Tyler told Sweet Home Fire Board members at their June 20 meeting that the Rosenbauer had been ordered before he joined the district as Fire Chief, in May 2022.

“I think before I started it was supposed to have been delivered, and then kept getting kicked back and kicked back, kicked back,” he said. “And they finally moved it from one plant to another to get it higher on the list.”

Delivery of fire vehicle typically takes a long time. Tyler told the board that Lebanon has been waiting for a new fire engine on order.

But, he said later, that was one reason why the district was able to pay for the truck out of its budget, rather than relying on bond funds as it has in the past to purchase new equipment.

“Part of that was the length of the build,” he said, noting that about 2½ years elapsed between when the truck was ordered and when it was delivered Thursday morning, July 13. “We were able to pay $100,000 down, $100,000 the next year, and then the balance.

The Board voted at its June 20 meeting to pay off the $215,298 balance of the truck.

“We don’t want to go to the voters for a bond every time we need new equipment,” Tyler said. “Using money from reserves for equipment helps taxpayers out a lot.”

Another factor, he said, was that, due to current interest rates, getting a loan to cover the balance of the truck’s purchase price “didn’t pencil out. The district, he said, found ways to shift money into equipment reserves and pay for the truck out of budget.

The new pumper, Tyler said, “will be a really good asset, a really good resource for the community as well as the state – taking it to conflagrations and being able to do all these things.”

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