Craig Fire/Rescue reloads with three new trucks |

Craig Fire/Rescue reloads with three new trucks

Ben Bulkeley
The new air masks, like the one shown above, feature a light-emitting diode that alerts Craig Fire/Rescue firefighters if their air supply is running low. Each new air pack came with a price tag of $6,000.
Hans Hallgren

How rare is the equipment found inside Craig Fire/Rescue’s station?

The newest member, a 105-foot articulating platform truck, is the only one in America kind of rare.

The Rosenbauer T-Rex aerial truck, which arrived in mid-May, came with a price tag of $962,000, which Training Officer Samantha Johnston said was worth every penny.

“You would be hard pressed to find a more progressive fire apparatus anywhere in the world,” Johnston said. “It is so versatile and adds an element of firefighter safety that Craig Fire/Rescue hasn’t seen before.”

The ladder truck, which was built and imported from Germany, is just the latest upgrade for the fire department.

Because of Craig’s growth potential, having an advanced piece of equipment is necessary moving forward, Johnston said.

With an articulating platform and crane-like abilities, safety will be emphasized.

“No firefighter will have to stand on an icy roof again,” Johnston said.

Firefighters are undergoing training for the truck.

“Before this truck is in service in our community, we have to have a solid number of certified driver operators who are comfortable and competent operating this equipment,” Johnston said.

The old truck, which was more than 30 years old, was sold to a smaller fire department in southern Colorado, Johnston said.

“It’s night and day,” she said. “The technology has increased so much in just the last two to five years.”

The truck was purchased using mill levy money and a Department of Local Affairs 50-50 matching grant.

“The taxpayer approval of an increased mill levy for capital improvements is the main reason that we are able to provide such a progressive service to our community,” Johnston said.

Adding to the fleet are the recently acquired “twins.”

The two $315,575 Rosenbauer Timber Wolves were acquired in early 2008 as part of a scheduled upgrade.

The two wildland/urban interface engines give the fire department flexibility it didn’t have before, Johnston said.

“Before, if we responded to a wildland fire call with a home threatened, our response would require a truck to fight the wildland fire and a truck to protect the structure,” Johnston said. “Today, we can accomplish more with fewer resources because of the increased capability and versatility of the new engines.”

Because one truck can perform two jobs, it means the other truck can stay behind, in case of another call.

Each 35,000-pound truck can haul 600 gallons of water or 30 gallons of foam, and it disperses it through a front-mounted turret.

“These trucks have the ability to pump and roll – something the old ones couldn’t do,” Johnston said.

All the new trucks have headset capability, which increases on-board communication.

When a building has to be entered, the firefighters are covered.

With new air packs purchased from the capitol budget, each firefighter is hauling around a major piece of technology.

Each mask has a heads-up light-emitting diode display that shows the firefighter how much air is left in the tank.

The tanks can be traced using global positioning satellites, and each firefighter’s movements can be followed using just a laptop.

“The incident commander has the ability to know who and where every firefighter is at any given moment in a hazardous atmosphere,” Johnston said. “The commander can see how much air they have, how hot the environment is and can send warning signals to evacuate the environment if necessary.”

Each air pack uses a composite bottle, capable of storing 45 minutes of oxygen. Last year, the fire department added an $80,000 air compressor to fill the air tanks.

Craig Fire/Rescue will not purchase any new equipment until 2011, Johnston said.

“Not only have we purchased the items we promised to our taxpayers, we have purchased some out-of-sequence equipment that required replacement earlier than scheduled,” she said. “Now we have to take a pause and let our reserves rebuild.”

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