Federal Emergency Management Agency grant covers cost of Walker County's new fire truck

Federal Emergency Management Agency grant covers cost of Walker County's new fire truck

February 26th, 2012 by Tim Omarzu in News

Walker County, Ga., Fire Chief Randy Camp

Walker County, Ga., Fire Chief Randy Camp remembers when a resident wondered why the fire agency needed a ladder truck when there aren't any skyscrapers around.

Camp knew the man's church had a towering steeple, so he had an answer.

"If that steeple's on fire, how can I get a hose stream to it?"

Ladder trucks aren't needed every day, Camp said, but he's used one for tasks such as retrieving a person in a hang glider dangling from a tree.

And a ladder truck would be just the ticket to fight a fire on the roof of a broad building such as a flooring factory.

"When you need it, nothing else replaces it," Camp said.

So the fire chief and County Coordinator David Ashburn are excited to have a new, $640,000 combination ladder truck and fire engine on the way.

On Thursday, County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell accepted a low bid from KME Fire Apparatus in Nesquehoning, Pa., to build it. Camp expects it will be delivered on Oct. 1.

Normally, a ladder truck must be connected to a fire engine, which has a pump, but the one Walker County ordered is a combo.

"In most cases, they're two independent trucks," Ashburn said. "This is both."

The custom-built vehicle will have a water tank that holds 750 gallons; most tanks hold between 300 to 500 gallons.

"We don't have a lot of hydrants," Camp explained. "About 90 percent of our properties don't have hydrants."

Camp said the new vehicle will go to the Chickamauga fire station, and the 18-year-old ladder truck that's there now will be moved to Station 15 on South Highway 27 to replace a 30-year-old ladder truck there.

The fire department also will be able to retire a 1982-model fire engine at the Chickamauga station. So the new ladder truck will take the place of two vehicles, which will save on insurance, fuel and parts, Camp said.

A $650,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency grant is covering the entire cost of the new ladder truck. Walker County also received a $420,000 federal grant to rebuild firefighters' breathing apparatus and buy air tanks good for 30 years and an $8,000 grant for a community emergency response team.

"So in this year, we've gotten $1.7 million in grants," Ashburn said. "We did a good job at that."