Fire district begins looking at new fire trucks

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Eighteen months ago, when the city of Craig began the process of rewriting the land use code and zoning regulations, one of the objects they wanted to tackle was the height-limit of buildings.

"Why should we prohibit someone from building a residence on top of offices?" community development director Dave Costa asked.

The city's plan to increase building height limits from 35 feet to 50 feet hinged partially on the Craig Rural Fire Protection District's purchase of a new aerial truck that could access taller buildings in case of fire.

Voters helped put that issue to rest by approving the fire district's 1.5 mill levy increase in the November general election.

On Thursday, the fire district began the process of screening potential fire trucks that could handle the job.

Visiting Craig, en route from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Denver, was a 100-foot articulating platform aerial fire truck being demonstrated by Lake City Emergency of Denver.

Deputy Fire Chief Bill Johnston liked what he saw at the demonstration.

"This is the top of the line of aerial trucks," Johnston said. "If all things check out, this is the truck we want."

The truck would replace a 30-year-old, 50-foot ladder truck with a working range of about 40 feet currently used by the department.

The articulated platform on the demonstration truck can reach over walls and obstacles and levels 17 feet below grade, if necessary.

Demonstrators said the truck is built mainly for crew safety, enabling firefighters to work above a building while staying off of a dangerous roof.

There are three manufacturers of the type of fire truck being sought by the department, with two more demonstrations planned for the future.

Invited to Thursday's demonstration were two local residents that fire department officials hoped would give a non-fire department point of view to the proceedings.

City road and bridge supervisor Randy Call and Bank of Colorado president Dave Dempster, a former fire-fighter, both were asked to evaluate the vehicle,

"To see if our decisions make sense and are reasonable," Johnston explained.

"I think it went well," Dempster said. "They raised the articulated arm and bucket and showed us what the truck can do. It's a state-of-the-art machine."

The district has secured a matching funds grant, courtesy of the Department of Local Affairs, for $462,500 for a 2007 truck purchase.

The fire department hopes to purchase an aerial truck in the first quarter, fire district officials said.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com.

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